Baker Mayfield Eats A Face Full of Humble Pie

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is who he is, and he just learned a long overdue lesson in humility.

In fact, all athletes and sportspersons everywhere the world over got another lesson in humility and sportsmanship and modesty and gamesmanship courtesy of Baker Mayfield. The Heisman Trophy winner and the Oklahoma Sooners suffered a humbling, if not humiliating, loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first semifinal college championship game at the Rose Bowl last night.

Baker Mayfield was supposed to win. Oklahoma was supposed to come out on top and beat and best Georgia just because.   Mayfield got out to a hot start, but succumbed to Georgia at the bitter end of a classic, come from behind thriller for the “Dawgs”, 54-48 in Double Overtime.

Baker Mayfield is a brash and brazen, braggadocios boy who has a lot of growing up to do. His antics and outbursts all season have earned him a well-deserved reputation and at one point lost him his captainship and almost his career. Earlier this year, he was arrested on a public intoxication and fleeing the scene charge and ordered to undergo 35 hours of community service. And there were other incidents which may have cost other players their scholarships, or more. And during last night’s game, after every early score, Mayfield would run full steam from the end zone with his arms outstretched as if he was soaring above and beyond Georgia’s reach. But not so fast.

Here’s how Sports Illustrated described his behavior: “Mayfield has been known for the emotion he displays during games but avoided controversy during his college finale. When asked about an apparent throat-slashing gesture after the game, he said it wasn’t directed at the Bulldogs. ‘When you get up on a team, you talk about stepping on their throats,’ he said. ‘Obviously, we didn’t do that.’

 As Oklahoma’s frenetic star wandered back onto the playing field to congratulate celebrating Bulldog players, Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy began screaming at him.

HUMBLE YOURSELF! HUMBLE YOURSELF!

Bellamy stood near the spot on the field where the Heisman Trophy winner had aimed his wild, arms-flailing sprints back to the bench after each Oklahoma touchdown earlier in the day, when the Sooners scored on five of their first six possessions and looked like they were about to blow the Bulldogs out of the Rose Bowl. Instead, Georgia outscored Oklahoma 37–17 after halftime.” https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/02/baker-mayfield-oklahoma-georgia-rose-bowl-nflIt was a great game but also a sad commentary on how not to lose. Baker Mayfield couldn’t finish and seal the deal against a Georgia team that didn’t know the word quit. Down 17 just before the half, Oklahoma inexpiably squib kicked after a field goal and allowed Georgia to run one play to get into position for a long field goal. And they made it, cutting the lead to 14.  Then and there,  I said Oklahoma was going to lose and Georgia was going win. Why? Because of Oklahoma’s arrogance. They  thought they were too far ahead for Georgia to catch up and assumed that Mayfield would continue to throw touchdown pass after touchdown pass the entire second half. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The lesson Baker Mayfield hopefully learns is that pride still goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. So let’s let this be a lesson and let’s do what Mayfield didn’t.

Humble yourself.

Save Your Best For Last

College_Football_Playoff_logo.svg

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was turned to wine, not knowing where it had come from, he said, ‘A host always serves the best wine first; then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!’

John 2:9-10, New Living Translation 

The best teams play their best ball during the best time of the season. And that’s December. I love December football. Every football fan loves football in December because it’s cold, games are contentious and, err, it’s cold.  It’s football weather, and December is the month when the big boys beat down the little guys to within an inch of their playoff lives. And December is the time when the best teams face off and stare down and square up against each other until only one is left standing.

We’ll find out who will be in the college football championship tonight. Alabama is outside looking in at number five, and they will have to watch Georgia and Auburn duke it out before they find out if they can make it in. Clemson is currently holding onto the number one spot and they can solidify their position with a convincing win over Miami.

As for my Eagles, they play Seattle tomorrow night in Seattle and that should be another good test to prove to all the naysayers that Philly is for real.

So save your best for last. Keep something in the tank for the stretch run when you need to out kick and out last and out best your competitors. And that includes your best buddy and your brother-in-law who would love to topple you just for something to do.

The lesson is clear; play to the whistle. Clearly we are living in the last days. Evil doers are calling right wrong and wrong right. Workers of iniquity are calling evil good and good evil; seducers are calling up down and down up.  Those who disdain God are calling right left and left right. Sin has run rampant and the enemy of our souls is out to destroy us, as he knows his time is short.

So don let up and don’t let down. Keep a goody bag and a spare tire and extra reserves for use as you approach the wire because our enemies and our foes are trying harder and harder to overcome righteousness and goodness and are going after you even harder as the sands of time wind down to the begining of eternity. 

Why does a gymnast put her most impressive skill at the end of the routine? Why do fireworks designers put the big burst at the end? Why is the fourth movement of the symphony the most powerful one? Why do stand-up comics like to end with their strongest material? Why does the climax come at the end of the movie instead of the beginning? Why do we eat dessert last? Why do we save the last dance for our best beau?

God saves His best for last, and we should too.

Survival of the Fittest

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) is carried off the field by outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (54) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) after kicking a game winning 61 yard field goal as time expires for a victory against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.                                           Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports    

Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly.  He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback  win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.

Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.

It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.

And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards.  Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.

Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.

The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.”  While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term  to sports teams and players appropriately.   

In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials  of life and emerge intact; you may be battered  and you may be bruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear. 

So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived.  It’s a lesson for us all.

Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.

Terps Topple Texas 51 – 41: a.k.a., Why We Love College Football!

Fear the Turtle

My Maryland Terrapins beat the Texas Longhorns in a shootout, 51 -41! Who saw that comin’? Texas was supposed to blow out and beat up and beat down my alma mater, but Maryland outscored them and out bested them and outlasted them in an early season shocker that reverberated all across college football from sea to shining sea.

So here’s to my Terps!  They pulled an upset for the ages, and hopefully they can build on this momentous win. And that’s the truth for all of us; big wins give us all hope and faith and confidence and courage. When we see our teams, and even someone else’s team, pull off the unthinkable and the almost impossible, it gives us a shot in the arm and a pat on the pants.

A shot in the arm is an expression derived from the invigorating effect of injecting drugs.  And a big win is a welcome dose of prescriptive medicine for what ails us. A shot is of course US slang for an injection, either of a narcotic or medicinal drug, and means a stimulus or impetus.

So thank God and thank you Maryland Terrapins for the inspiration and the motivation and the medication of the shot that the win over Texas gave us.

Note from Clemson: Don’t Be Surprised When You Actually Win The Big One

dabo-swinney-looks-up

Clemson Actually Won! Coach Swinney said “Only God could do something like this.” Amen brother. Down by 10 at halftime, Coach Swinney told his team

We’re going to win the game, because we love each other. I don’t know how, but we’re going to win the game.

Period. End of discussion. And after the game, Coach Swinney gave us the moral of the story: Clemson’s win gives us all hope, because “greatness is for everyone.”

So it shouldn’t be a surprise when our dreams come true. It shouldn’t be a shock to the system or a jolt to the nerves when everything we’ve worked for and everything we’ve hoped for and everything we’ve longed for actually and finally comes true and bursts through the front door.  

I am so happy for Coach Swinney.  I am. He deserves this win way more than most coaches that have won. And Deshaun Watson, Clemson’s star QB, was as confident and convinced and certain that his team would win as any other player ever.

Alabama did not lose the game; Clemson won the game, fair and square. Because Alabama was ranked No. 1 and Clemson was No. 2, it was an upset. But make no mistake, like it or not, the better team won. And Clemson clearly was the better team. And to quote Coach Swinney once more, “the win was not an upset, it was an expectation.”

The legend of Dabo Swinney just hit No. 1 on the charts and it will stay there for some time. The coach that almost nobody at Clemson wanted or heard of just won a national championship. And they didn’t just win, the won with ONE SECOND left on the clock! Wow.  Talk about a dramatic, come from behind finish. Some of the headlines spoke of the spectacular win:

Clemson Shocks Alabama to Win National Championship.

Clemson Wins National Championship in Thriller.

Clemson Stuns Alabama To Win National Championship.

Rarely is a sequel as good as the original, but Clemson rewrote the ending in its national championship story against Alabama. It was a triumph savored by Tigers players past and present.

Alabama v. Clemson II was everything we hoped it would be. The sequel was even better than the original. Legends were born as Clemson scored in the final seconds of the 2017 CFP National Championship, stunning Alabama with a thrilling victory.

Over the final 4:38 of the game, the teams would score three touchdowns and trade the lead three times, with the Tigers ultimately ending the night and the season on top the sport via a 35-31 final score. That insanity triggered a frenetic schedule that would continue for the coach, his family and his team that would carry on until well after most of everyone else on the East Coast was fast asleep.

He was already the best player in program history, but after coming up short in one title game and missing out on two Heismans, Deshaun Watson sealed the deal with an epic game-winning drive. At 12:27 a.m., the game finally ended after the game clock hung up on one final second for more than five minutes as officials made a ruling on the onside kick by Clemson.

What a way to win the big one.

http://www.usatoday.com/videos/sports/ncaaf/acc/2017/01/10/swinney-clemson-win-gives-hope-%27greatness-everyone%27/96393442/

Can Clemson Beat Alabama? (Round II)

dabo-swinney2

I like Clemson’s Head Coach, Dabo Swinney. I do. And in Alabama v. Clemson II, I DO think the Tigers can hang with the Alabama Crimson Tide tomorrow night. If Clemson pulls it out and pulls it off, the game will go down to the wire, which means I’ll need to stay up way past my bedtime to watch. Phooey.

Tomorrow night is college football’s big stage: the College Football Playoff National Championship. And on that big stage lies the 60 minutes that separates No. 2 Clemson from winning its first national championship in 35 seasons. To do so, the Tigers must beat No. 1 Alabama, the most successful program of our time. A victory by the Crimson Tide would be the school’s fifth in eight seasons, all under head coach Nick Saban.

Alabama is the college football team everyone loves to hate. People hate and love Alabama basically because of their colorful, crimson character of a coach, Nick Saban. Because of Saban, “‘Bama has been (and will be?) the standard in college football for a long time,” Swinney said before last year’s game. So, the question is this: can Dabo do it? Will Dabo do it? Or more pointedly, how might Dabo do it?

I ask myself these questions each and every day. Can I do it? Will I do it? Or more pointedly, how might I do it – whatever “it” is? And the answer is simply this: if you want to achieve you must first believe. And Dabo is driven and determined and set and settled on beating his alma mater tonight. Good for him. And his win tonight, if he can notch it, will speak volumes and teach another life lesson and set another sports precedent for the rest of us to follow.

On the flip side, Dabo’s desire and drive and desperation just might spell and equal an UPSET for Alabama. Make no mistake about it; even though the Tigers are No. 1, if they win, it WILL be an upset, because Nick Saban will be UPSET!

So here’s to the Clemson Tigers and cheers and hats off to Dabo Swinney. Because if he pulls this one off, he will have kept me up and kept us all awake and keep the college football world roused up and hunkered down to do it. Because it’s going to take some doing to do this. But isn’t that what we all face every day?

Sports, Domestic Violence and The Joe Mixon Mess


There is no excuse.  There is no plausible explanation. And there is no way that Joe Mixon should play with his team in the upcoming Sugar Bowl game against Auburn.

Here’s the back story from The Early Lead:

Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops made his first public comments about a 2014 surveillance tape that shows running back Joe Mixon punching a female student and, if anything, his words revealed that when it comes to violent incidents, colleges are still trying to figure it out.

Especially when the athlete involved is a star and, as the NFL found out in the Ray Rice case, awful video of a woman being slugged exists.

“Two and a half years ago, [I] thought we had a significant penalty, a strong penalty,” Stoops said at a news conference Wednesday, defending the one-season suspension he gave Mixon. “Now, it isn’t enough. These individuals can’t have a second chance. Just not acceptable. And they know it anymore, and they’ve been told enough. We have more meetings and things of that nature that instruct and let them know what appropriate behavior is and isn’t and what the consequences are.

“Dismissal is really the only thing that is possible. A young guy having an opportunity to rehabilitate and to have some kind of discipline and come back from it is really not there anymore. Hopefully that message goes down even to the high school level that these things are just unacceptable to any degree and there’s no recovering, I guess . . . it never has been acceptable. What I’m saying is, there’s no recovering from these incidents really anymore.”

In the 2014 incident in an off-campus restaurant, Mixon struck fellow student Amelia Molitor in the face, breaking four bones. Three days later, he told police in Norman, Okla., that he simply was reacting to both a racial slur uttered by one of Molitor’s companions and what he described as a hard swing Molitor took at him. Mixon, in video footage of a police interview published by the Oklahoman, said he felt as if “a dude hit me” and reacted.

“The gay dude … he called me something,” Mixon said in the video. “He was like [slur]. So then I was like, you got me messed up. And then I called him a [slur]. And after that, the girl, she dropped her purse, that’s when she came in my face, pushed me, and then my glasses came off, and then, like, I had, like, jumped at her, like, to watch out. And then she came in my face. I put my head down. And she swung on me.

“And after that, like, I was so shocked, because she hit me so hard. It felt like a dude hit me. And after that, like, my face went boom, my reaction was just right there.” …

“I mean, even though she pushed me, I didn’t think she was going to hit me,” Mixon said, repeating what he said earlier in the interview. “I was so shocked because she hit me so hard, it felt like really like a dude hit me. And then, like, my face just started ringing. And after that, like, it was just like a reaction.”

Stoops, who first saw the surveillance video along with university President David Boren and Athletic Director Joe Castiglione in the district attorney’s office shortly after it occurred, allowed Mixon to rejoin the Sooners team after serving a one-season suspension.” It was horrible,” Stoops said. “I hated it. I hated it as much as anybody did, absolutely.”

Still, he allowed Mixon, who would likely be a top draft prospect if he decides to forgo his last two years of eligibility after the Sooners’ Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl appearance, to play after his suspension. Stoops was asked if that left the appearance that the school condones violence women, especially when committed by a star football player, and Stoops replied that he was “sure to some degree it does.”

“And I regret that,” Stoops said. “In the end, at the time, we felt it was a significant and strong punishment. And, again, some people that seen the entire (video) at that time agreed. And others didn’t. I understand that and I always knew that that was something that everybody would debate.”

The surveillance video was released by Mixon’s attorneys at his request last week. Mixon is shown from two camera angles on that July 2014 day approaching Molitor at a table at Pickleman’s restaurant. They exchange words and Molitor pushes Mixon, then slaps his neck. Mixon punches Molitor, whose head strikes the table as she falls to the floor.

Mixon, who apologized last month, was charged with a misdemeanor but agreed to an Alford plea, receiving one year of probation with cognitive-behavior counseling and 100 hours of community service. Molitor sued him for negligence, willful and wanton misconduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but the first two claims were thrown out by a judge last month. The latter claim remains active.

Stoops told reporters that he did not think it would take so long for the video to be released and the city of Norman was forced to do so after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, who had filed a complaint under the state’s Open Records Act. The city had until Dec. 26 to release the video or file an appeal and Mixon’s attorneys took a preemptive step last week, with Molitor’s civil suit still pending. In his only interview with members of the media at Oklahoma, Mixon has declined to answer questions about the incident.
By Cindy Boren, Matt Bonesteel, The Early Lead