The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East after all. After being the pre-season favorite, and then falling off the map during the season, and then enduring multiple injuries along the way, the Eagles put together a late season march through their NFC East opponents and won four straight to finish 9-7.
Itwas improbable, and at more than one point it seemed impossible, but those plucky Birds pulled off a comeback for the ages. The Eagles turned their torrid season all the way around, and now they are in the playoffs for the third straight season. It took leadership and perseverance, and grit, and Fletcher Cox has all these, and some.
For many of us, 2019 was that kind of year. It began with high hopes and powerful promise, but along the way the wheels came off and I was left on the side of the road for dead. But that’s just when Heaven starts helping and God get’s going. God honors faith. God rewards faith. And God expects us to have strong faith to endure the tests and trials that face us.
So take it from me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. So finish 2019 strong, and let’s begin 2020 with the faith to believe that we can conquer anything and everything that life may throw our way.
As for my Eagles, I pick them to go all the way! And why not, we’re underdogs again, just like 2017 when we won Super Bowl LII.
The triumph for LSU was tremendous, but they simultaneously experienced a tragedy that was equally traumatic. And such is life.
LSU defeated Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl on Saturday night, 63 – 28, as their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow set records for touchdowns and yards and just about everything else. It was an awesome, overwhelming, and overpowering win for Coach Orgeron and the LSU Tigers who have been ranked as the No. 1 college team in the country for most of the year.
But the thrill of victory was overshadowed by the agony of defeat. Earlier in the day, the team learned that offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger lost his daughter-in-law in a plane crash just hours before his team was set to take the field.
Carley McCord — who was also a New Orleans-based sports reporter — was among five people killed in Lafayette, LA Saturday morning as the private aircraft slammed into a parking lot and burst into flames in what’s said to have been an emergency landing after takeoff.
As believers, we are to weep with them that weep, and mourn with them that mourn. So we join with the LSU family as we pause to remember the life of a lady whose time was cut off far too soon. Yes we rejoice over the dramatic win, but let’s not forget that while we rejoice, our hearts are heavy as well.
They said Dallas was the better team. They said the Eagles didn’t stand a chance. And they said Wentz was overrated and all washed up. But the final score said the opposite. The final Score was Eagles 17, Dallas 9. In this game of arch NFC East Division rivals, the Eagles “D” held the No. 1 offense in the league to three field goals! Nuff said! This was an upset win for the ages, and the Eagles did it with backup, underdog players due to multiple injuries to numerous all pro starters. It was a great team win, a Christmas present from Santa, and a Christmas Miracle, all raped up in one.
It took prayer and faith, pleas for good fortune and fortitude from fearfulness. It took it all and a little more to win this game.
Now the Eagles just have to win the NFC East, right? Right! In my book, Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds, here’s how I describe this Eagles’ win, and every other upset win of epic proportions:
“In the World of Sports, there’s nothing like an upset win, a comeback from way back, and a complete turnaround. The same is true in life. In sports, we celebrate the underdogs, both the teams and the players who are at a distinct disadvantage and are expected to lose. Yet some way, somehow, these teams and players find a way triumph in spite of adversity.
Upsets, Comebacks, and Turnarounds looks back to those who have already overcome and looks ahead to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome. This book examines the intersection of God and sports and the connection of sports and spirituality. It is dedicated to those in life not favored to win; to those voted least likely to succeed; and to those picked to finish dead last or not at all; in other words, the underdogs. The Bible is chock-full of unprecedented upset wins.
The Holy Writ is replete with remarkable, courageous comebacks. And scripture is saturated with stories of tremendous turnarounds. Leah, Ruth, Jonathan, Moses, and Elijah are just a few of the faithful who overcame overwhelming odds and were victorious. They found a way to believe God for, and experience, miracles. This is a telling of their side of the story. This book is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots. to all those who “didn’t stand a chance.” Biblical stories of men and women of the faith are inspiration and motivation for us all. At one point in their lives, ordinary people just like you and me were spiritually empty, bereft of hope and brimming with despair. But God turned it around. He did it for them, He did it for me, and He can do the same for you too.”
Anybody hate, and I do mean HATE, the Dallas Cowboys!
Today’s game is essentially for the Division, the NFC East, and the season is on the line for both teams. Both teams are a mediocre 7 -7, both teams have marginal quarterbacks, and both teams have an equal change at victory. So what will determine the outcome? Preparation.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” The key word in this age old adage is “preparation.” Then the next most instructive word is “prior.” Let’s unpack them both.
According to one source, “apparently the saying came from the British army and is a shortcut of the original 7Ps which mean Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent P. . . Poor Performance.”
Preparation is “the activity of putting or setting in order in advance of some act or purpose.” Preparation is also “the activity leading to skilled behavior.” And this one must do in ADVANCE. In the moment mental muscle is great. However, for physical strength, you need to go to the gym and work out prior to showing off your agility and physicality in a game. Mental toughness is built the same way.
Today’s Eagles Dallas game is the biggest game in Eagles’ history since the Super Bowl LII win against the Patriots. And in order to win, hopefully Carson Wentz and the Eagles have prepared themselves. And hopefully this preparation will lead to skilled behavior on field, aka, a decisive victory.
This is a great life lesson. So let’s apply it and learn from past mistakes. Let’s prepare more, and prepare better. Let’s not rush to judgement or be in an unnecessary hurry for anything. God prepares, so me should prepare. David said that the Lord “prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies.” Anybody like that verse? I do! (And to be sure, the Dallas Cowboys are mortal enemies to all Eagles everywhere!)
Let’s prepare for victory. And that will take coherent, cognitive activity, including, perception and reasoning. For the Eagles to defeat Dallas today, Wentz will have to be at his cognitive and coherent best. And then there’s the whole Christmas Miracle thing, but preparation sure won’t hurt the Eagles, and it certainly will help you and me too.
Joe Burrow just won the Heisman Trophy. Thereby, Burrow proved that nice guys can, and do, finish first.
In his epic, record setting season and his emotional and heartwarming acceptance speech, Joe Burrow proved and pronounced three things;
First, you can beat the odds.
Second, you can rise from obscurity; and
Third, nice guys don’t have to finish last.
Burrow beat the odds. No one, and I mean NO ONE, had Joe Burrow as a Heisman Trophy finalist at the beginning of the 2019 season, much less the runaway winner. But Burrow led “LSU’s passing game that finished No. 116 in 2014, No. 106 in 2015, No. 101 in 2016, No. 84 in 2017 and No. 67 in 2018 sprang to No. 2 in 2019, largely through the mastery Burrow left strewn across storied American fields such as Texas, Alabama and Atlanta (against Georgia in the SEC championship game). Receiving yards went lavished on brilliant wideouts such as Ja’Marr Chase (1,498), Justin Jefferson (1,207) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (545).” ESPN
Burrow rose from the obscurity of Athens, Ohio, an impoverished rural county, to the national stage of instant stardom. Burrow was a backup quarterback at Ohio State, and then transferred to LSU, and now he’s the Heisman Trophy winner on the No. 1 Team in the nation favored to win the college national championship. Burrow led LSU “from 2,894 passing yards in 13 games in 2018, then ascended to 4,715 in 13 games so far in 2019. He threw 48 touchdown passes against six interceptions.” Incredible.
Talk about a rags to riches, Cinderella, Rocky Balboa story.
So we say congratulations to Joe Burrow. Thanks for reminding us that nice guys can indeed finish first.
PS: Now watch Burrows Heisman Trophy acceptance speech and try to hold it together. I dare you not to shed a tear.
The Philadelphia 76ers are playing with fire. Principally, their all-stars, center Joel Embiid and guard Ben Simmons, are too good to be giving too little to the game. So said the beloved and behemoth NBA analysts on TNT, Shaquille O’Neal and former Philly great Charles Barkley. Both of these NBA icons played with fire. And Barkley and Shaq called both of these Philly young bucks out on their lax and lackadaisical performances in recent games on national TV this week.
First, let’s unpack the definition. On the one hand, playing with fire is not a complementary term. The Urban Dictionary says that “Playing with Fire” is “used primarily to advise someone against a course of action that may result in an unpleasing outcome either for themselves or others around them.” In other words, Simmons and Embiid have the potential to be great, but as they play with the fire of forlorn fecundity, they risk their reputations and the prospect of professional prosperity.
On the other hand, all of the Philly basketball greats played with fire. Dr. J, Moses Malone, Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain all played with fire. That’s the second meaning of the term. When you play with a fire in your soul, it consumes you to the point where you want nothing else but to win, by any means necessary. Playing with fire is a necessity, not a nicety. And the Philadelphia faithful expect nothing less than this fire that should burn every game, night in and night out.
Playing with an inner fire is contagious. It’s infectious. It can be transmitted to others in a good way. When a star player is on fire, it’s because he (or she) is playing with fire. Fire consumes and purifies. Fire illuminates and invigorates. Fire is a feeling of great warmth and intensity. When great players want to motivate their teammates, they often say, “Get Fired Up!”
And that’s today’s lesson folks. Saint’s and friends, if we are to be victorious and triumphant, we must play, and live, with fire. Fire in the form of fervent prayer and passionate praise will propel us and project us and eventually will promote us to the next level. Living with fire means that we will not accept anything other than spiritual success, because failure is not an option.
At one point, the prophet Jeremiah felt like throwing in the towel. He was a step away from quitting. But Jeremiah knew that even to think of quitting was playing with fire. Jeremiah knew that to even contemplate giving up was a course of action that would result in an unpleasing outcome for himself and for others around him. Instead of giving up, Jeremiah remembered that God’s Word was like fire shut up in his bones.
So let’s make a decision. Let’s not play around, like listless lackeys do. Let’s play with a fierce fire that will consume and engage us fully and destroy every opponent completely.
It’s a miracle that the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series. The madness is that they had to pay their ace, MVP pitcher Stephen Strasburg, $245 Million dollars to stay with the team. I say they “had to,” because if they didn’t, another team would. That much mula is mad money, no matter how you slice it.
Stephen Strasburg just cashed in. But I’m not hattin’. He had a great year and won his team the World Series, so he deserves to be rewarded. But MAN! Salaries in professional sports continue spiral up and out of control, with no ceiling in sight. That’s madness. Why on God’s green earth does free agency cost so much?
The miracle could be how these exorbitant salaries will be used by those who are blessed with them. The moral of the story is this: those who are rich are charged not to trust in wealth, but in God. Paul instructed Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Tim 6:17, NIV
So, since we can’t stop the ever increasing rise of riches in this world, especially in the world of sports, let’s collectively use it to our advantage. Let’s turn a possible negative into a positive. No we can’t spend Strasburg’s money, but we can encourage him to give back. Money is not bad, but loving money above God and all else is.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, Stephen Strasburg and the $245 Million his Washington Nationals just gave him, as the defending champions brought back their World Series MVP. Here’s how one sports writer put it:
“Well, the hot stove is officially lit. An eye-popping $245 million deal for ace Stephen Strasburg to return to the Nationals got the fun started on the first day of baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego.”
“Stephen Stasburg just signed the largest ever contract for a pitcher in both total and average annual value ($35 million). Former Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole is expected to surpass both of those numbers this offseason, but Strasburg still projects as the highest-earning pitcher in major league history. His career earnings will come out to just over $361 million when this contract ends.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/09/stephen-strasburg-contract-nationals/
And here’s ESPN’s David Schoenfield’s gut reaction to the question, “Do you like this deal for the Nationals?
“Hey, it’s not my money! This guy just carried your team to a World Series title, but that’s also a very large chunk of change for a pitcher who just topped 176 innings for the first time since 2014. There’s nothing wrong with bringing him back and continuing to construct your team around the big three of Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin.”
I’m happy for Strasburg. I am. And I hope he goes on to have many more productive seasons. With that, even though I’m a Phillies fan, go NATS!