Note to Philly Fans: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

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It’s ONLY the Pre-Season, but . . .

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. This proverb is used to warn someone not to plan anything that depends on a good thing expected to happen in the future; you tell them to wait until it really happens. It is used to tell people not to be too sure that something good you hope for will really happen, because it might not happen after all.

In other words, it’s used for ALL Philly fans everywhere, but especially at the start of this football season. You see, Philly has not won a Super Bowl. Ever. Our Eagles have played in two, only to lose to the Oakland Raiders in 1981 and the New England Patriots in 2005.

But . . . there is reason to hope yet again.

The faith of the Philly Faithful got yet another dose of determination and still another measure of muster last night as the eager Eagles beat the ragged Ravens down to the ground. It was music to our ears and a savory sight to see.

The Eagles demolished another opponent from top to bottom in their 40-17 win over the Ravens on Saturday night. Yes, it was only the preseason, and there were still plenty of mistakes, but Chip Kelly’s troops have been sharp. Even though it’s only August, and while we’ve seen this script before, here’s what we learned in this early win:

1. Sam Bradford can survive a cheap shot. Bradford looked like a wily veteran and a steady All-Pro in the pocket for one series. He was commanding and in command — but it’s only the pre-season.

2. Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley looked like worthy backups, completing passes and running the offense efficiently — but again, it’s ONLY August.

3. The defense held the Ravens to zero points through three quarters, and three of our best middle linebackers were DNP (did not play) but, repeat after me, it’s only the SECOND game of this preliminary, preparatory season.

4. Kenjon Barner, a backup running back, ran his second punt back for a touchdown in as many games, so it seems that he’s pretty much made the team. But — all together now — It’s ONLY the Pre-Season!

Spiritually speaking, we can’t count on many things, but we can count on God to do everything He promises and pledges to do. That’s what we call faith. It’s not presumption or premise; it’s not probability or possibility; it’s confidence and not conjecture in the power and capacity and muscle and might and strength and strong arm of our Almighty God.

So what can we learn? What can we glean and garner and gather from this, a precursor of a game that may or may not predict and prefigure and forecast and foretell the near future? Maybe not a whole lot, but I’ll tell you what, I’d rather do well in practice than fair poorly in my preparation. I’d rather win when it doesn’t count than lose while no one is watching. I’d rather get a running start than start running flatfooted or back on my heels.

So we all know that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. But starting good is not so bad. Starting fast is better than finishing slow. Winning in the pre-season hopefully will lead to winning all during the season. And for my Eagles, big wins in August will hopefully translate to big wins in December. So let’s not get our hopes up but let’s keep hope alive. Because what have we, and what are we, without hope?

RELAX! What Goes Around, Comes Around

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Well! My Eagles learned a hard lesson by losing 53-20 to the red-hot Green Bay Packers and the even hotter Aaron Rogers at cold Lambeau Field, with those butt-ugly uniforms, no less. And by so doing they taught us an easy lesson in the process. Just last Monday Night, the Eagles (pronounced “Iggles” for all those of you outside of Philly) beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers up and down the field, 45 – 21, and it wasn’t that close. So we learn, as the old saying goes, that what goes around comes around. So be careful what you dish, because that’s what you’re going to be dealt.

Well-meaning Mark Sanchez looked lost, listless and lifeless as he managed to make mistake after mistake; he just couldn’t corral his confidence after he got cornered. Sanchez, and the entire Eagles team, for that matter, came off of the field time and again looking bewildered and befuddled, confused and confounded, like a dear staring into a pair of high beams. Now, predicting the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl, much less win it, will be a tough sell. And as the old country saying goes, “that’s just swell.”

Oh well. Right now, the Eagles smell. They stink to high heaven and their performance in front of the waiting, watching, wondering football world was no belle as they were a shell of what they showed us in recent weeks. So now it’s hard to tell how well they will rebound from this near death knell.

And the lesson to be learned, pray tell? Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, even when things don’t go your way. You can recover if you keep your wits about you. When you win big you’re primed and prone, subjectable and susceptible to lose big. It’s just the way it works. Because what goes around comes around. But your big loses don’t have to be fatal, nor do your bad loses have to be final.

Well intended athletes of every age and at every stage of the game must learn how to lose well. The problem is that when things start going south, most of us start panicking instead of persevering. And THEN we let our emotions get the best of us, and it gets out of hand – sometimes way out of hand. So the lesson here is to resolve to resist the temptation to give in, even when it appears that you should give up.

So, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, after they started the season 1-2, he said “R.E.L.A.X.!”

And this teaching on “Five Ways To Relax In God’s Grace” by Rick Warren was pretty good, so I’ll pass it on.

“Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace.” (Hebrews 12:15a NCV)

 How do you learn to “R.E.L.A.X.” in the liberating grace of God?

 
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Mark Sanchez: A Veteran Has His Day

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The cover of this GQ Magazine is iconic. Mark Sanchez is now playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. And Michael Vick, the veteran QB who rewrote the book on comebacks, whom the Eagles signed in 2009 and let go this year, is now playing for the NY Jets. How ironic is that? But for now, we honor the veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Mark Travis John Sanchez just had the best game of his professional career, ever. A six-year veteran, he was unceremoniously released by the New York Jets at the end of last season after having shoulder surgery. With no love lost between the Jets and Sanchez, the onetime franchise Phenom with a Five Year, $50 million dollar contract became a free agent rummaging for a paying job. But that was then, and this is now.

On Veterans Day eve, this valuable veteran valedictorian led his new team (the Eagles Baby!) to a dominant 45-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. Sanchez finished with 20 completions on 37 attempts for 332 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Not too shabby for a belated, back-up, substitute, surrogate quarterback who apparently has more than a little left in the tank.

Veteran Mark Sanchez just taught us all another laudable lesson in how to play the game of life: “Don’t Give In, Don’t Give Out, and Don’t Give Up.”

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Veterans don’t give in and don’t give up. First, don’t give in to what the naysayers say or what the critics bray. Giving in simply means you’re giving up. What if all of the veterans who won wars and vanquished villains and bashed bastions were quick to throw in the towel and give up the fight?  That’s right; perish the thought.

Mark Sanchez has learned to the lesson of what not to give out. We must be discreet and discerning about what we give and what we share. Everyone doesn’t need a piece of your mind. Don’t give out accolades too soon or criticism too early, as was the case with Sanchez’s NFL debut in 2009.  The Jets and the New York fans and just about everyone else expected oh so much from the USC star fresh off a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. And then when he didn’t consistently produce, they threw him under the bus.

Veterans don’t wear out. While Sanchez was with the Jets, the press pushed and pressed and heaped and heaved much too much on the college kid who many said wasn’t ready to start in the NFL as a rookie. Nonetheless, in 2009 Sanchez led the Jets to the playoffs and the AFC Championship game AS A ROOKIE. And so the moral of the story is that you don’t get respect, you earn it. And as a veteran, Sanchez has certainly earned the respect of this Philly fan and the respect of all of the Philly Faithful, and the rest of the NFL as well. And don’t think the Jets aren’t wondering why they let him go.

Mark Sanchez just may be the comeback kid of the year. He may have been down, but he was not out. When he could only look up, he did not give up. When he was cut, he didn’t cut and run. He has no quit in him. And last night, he came back and played for his new team and led them like a wily veteran should. And he had fun doing it. Sanchez looked like he was having the time of his life.  Games are to be played, and if you can’t have fun playing, you might as well not play at all. 

So on this Veterans Day, we salute all of our valiant veterans in uniform on and off of the field.  We honor the spiritual veterans who are a part of the Church Triumphant who have finished fighting the good fight, like Dr. Myles Monroe and my dear ole dad, Chaplain Elmer Hunter. And we certainly honor the warriors who are still fighting and continue to fight, such as my mom, and Mom Pearl and Sam (my in-laws) in the church militant . 

And while we harbor and hug the veterans whose hands we now hold, it’s the warriors on the battle fields before our time and beyond our reach that we honor and praise and prize the most on this their day.