The Eagles Need A Christmas Miracle

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Do you believe in miracles?

The Eagles just got one, as they defeated the New York “Football” Giants, 23-17 in OT on Monday Night Football (in the rain, mind you!) at Lincoln Financial Field. After a dismal and tragic first half, the Eagles scored 20 unanswered points to pull out a thrilling, come from behind, turnaround, must win game.

Can a Christmas miracle come in four parts? If it can, the Philadelphia Eagles just got Act One. Shakespearean plays are divided into acts and scenes – and always have a Five Act structure, no exceptions. But for the Eagles, we’ll make an exception here, because they need just three more wins, or “Acts,” to win the Division.

Do you believe in miracles? After tonight’s win, you just have too. The Eagles season has been somewhat of a Shakespearean Tragedy, and the heartbreaking first three months of the 2019 season has felt like and has been full of calamity and catastrophe, just like Shakespeare would draw it up.

But that was then, and this is now. Now, with this win, the horrid and hideous opening of this season can now lead to a tremendous, comedic conclusion. The Eagles are now 6-7, a losing record not so far removed from their historic Super Bowl LII win.

For the Eagles to comeback from way back, you must believe in miracles. This season has had more than enough heartache and had looked like it will end in heartbreak before tonight’s miraculous and momentous end. If the Eagles win their remaining games, they win the NFC East and move on to the playoffs. But they will need a miracle to do it. And they just got part one, thanks to a touchdown from Wentz to Ertz in overtime

Do you believe in miracles? You must. Christmas is all about miracles. The miracle of the virgin birth paved the way for every other miracle, including the one we just got tonight.

Was I watching? No. I couldn’t bear to watch, so instead my wife and I had on a heartwarming miracle movie on the Hallmark Channel. Yes, the Hallmark Channel. After the Eagles were down 17-3 at the half, I tuned out and turned the game off. But they won without me. We got the miracle we needed to keep our playoff hopes alive.

Do you believe in miracles? Yes it takes faith and it requires hope. And you must love this Eagles team, warts and all. Yes, I believe in miracles. And if you’re an Eagles fan, you just have to.

Zach Ertz
Zach Ertz after the Super Bowl LII Miracle

Kareem Hunt and the National Football League: What’s Up With the NFL? – Fall 2018 Edition

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Kareem Hunt is cut by the Kansas CIty Chiefs after a video is released of him shoving and kicking a woman in a February dispute

Mike McCarthy just got fired, Kareem Hunt was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Bears lost to the Giants. Go figure.   

First, who would have thought that the Green Bay Packers would fire their beloved coach MIDSEASON? And who would have guessed that the Chiefs’ darling (now former) running back would be ditched for a February incident in which he shoved and kicked a woman, a video of which just so happened to surface on Friday?  And why didn’t the NFL interview Kareem Hunt or the woman he shoved and kicked when the league investigated the February assault? Incredible. Hunt now says he was “in the wrong”. How genuine of him, months after the incident and months after he misled the team and the NFL about what really happened. It’s yet another black eye for the NFL and yet another domestic violence incident that the NFL failed to handle correctly.  

And in actual games that were actually played on the field, the Giants beat the first place Bears in overtime.  Explain that one, pray tell?

It just goes to show, anything is possible. The good can go bad, and the very bad can actually turn out to be pretty good. Go figure. And to top it all off, my Eagles have a chance to move up in the world if they beat the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

Failures are not final, and victories are not forever sustainable. So never say never. And don’t count me out. And don’t count your chickens before they hatch. McCarthy was a fixture in Green Bay, and he’s out. Kareem Hunt was the engine that drove the Chiefs, and he’s out, and the Giants have had the worse season imaginable, and they don’t look like they’re out (even though they are), and my Super Bowl Champion Eagles have played under par all season; yet and still, mathematically they’re not  out yet.  I said yet. 

And that’s the NFL, and that’s life. There’s always hope.  Yet things could go south or sideways in a hurry if you don’t do the right thing.    So do the right thing, even when you have a losing record or you don’t seem to have a snowballs chance in you know what to get out of the mess you’re in.  

Because doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

The Eagles Are Baaaaaaaaack!

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Philadelphia Eagles Star Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles, for the first time this season, looked like their 2017 selves Thursday night. They weren’t nearly perfect, but they led comfortably throughout what would eventually become a 34-13 pasting of the New York Giants at Giants Stadium, err, I mean MetLife Stadium. With the big win, the Eagles may well have saved the NFC East from becoming the NFC Least!

With the big win, Carson Wentz and the Eagles are baaaaaaaack! They’ve climbed back to .500, so now at 3-3, they can legitimately say that the are again the class of the NFC East. Things were looking kind of dicey there for a while, but the Super Bowl Champs are back; they’ve turned things around and straightened some things out, so let’s just hope they’re back to stay.

OK, so yes they beat the hapless, helpless New York Football Giants, so let’s not get carried away or get too ahead ourselves. No, they did NOT play perfect, championship level football. Yes, they looked better than they have since the Super Bowl, and no they can’t punch their ticket to Super Bowl LIII just yet. One win doesn’t erase the previous five weeks. The Eagles still have issues and still have an increasing number of injuries. But it had to feel good to get ahead early, expand the lead, and put an opponent away with rather ease.

It took until Week 6, but the Eagles finally played to expectations. The Eagles offense finally caught up to Carson Wentz in the road win, and with Fletcher Cox leading the way, the Eagles pass rush turned up the heat on Eli Manning. No, Eli is not the Eli of old, because this Eli is now old man Eli. He struggled all game, and that’s putting it kindly.

The only bright spot for the Giants and the only blemish for the Eagles is how the Birds let rookie sensation Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Barkley made like Red Grange out there, “The Galloping Ghost” who played for the Chicago Bears way back. Barkley ran the ball 13 times for 130 yards, catching it nine times for 99 yards, and zigging every time the Eagles zagged as he made Manning’s numbers look better than they truly were.

But enough about Eli Manning and the Giants already. Let’s get back to my Eagles, the defending Super Bowl Champs!

The win wasn’t exactly pretty or simple. The Eagles were playing on three days’ rest, they had to travel up the Jersey Turnpike, and the Giants have enough firepower to have produced the opposite result. But they caught a squad that’s reeling with an aging, ineffective quarterback. Jim Schwartz’s defense deserves credit for getting after Eli Manning, but the 37-year-old quarterback is all but done. The Giants will win some more games, and Manning might have some decent outings on paper, but he’s no longer capable of willing his team to victory. He doesn’t trust his arm to throw downfield and doesn’t have the necessary athleticism to extend plays in the pocket behind a leaky offensive line.

The 3-3 Eagles don’t have to worry about the Giants in the division. The Redskins (2-2) and Cowboys (2-3) are still clearly in the NFC East picture, but when the Eagles play as they did Thursday, with an elite quarterback firing on all cylinders, a suffocating defense with a ferocious pass rush and special teams that are mistake-free, there are few teams that can keep up.” http://www2.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/eagles-giants-carson-wentz-fletcher-cox-alshon-jeffery-what-we-learned-thursday-night-football-20181012.html

So let’s celebrate the win, but let’s not celebrate too long or too much. There’s still much work to do; there’s still too much at stake, as defending our title and defending our honor is still on the line.

And this is the same lesson all of the rest of us need to learn too.

How Much Is Too Much?

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Odell Beckham, Jr. is all smiles, because Odell just got paid. The New York Football Giants just offered their star stud a deal that makes him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Is he worth it? Some say yes. Does he deserve it? Some say no. But the deal is done, and now Odell is one fat cat.

And so the question is this: how much money is too much money? How many cars are too many to own? How big a house or how many houses does one need? How many yachts and private jets and penthouses and beach bungalows does one need to be satisfied? In essence, how much is too much? Most would agree that professional athletes are overpaid. And this just adds fuel to that fire.

On the one hand the Bible speaks of Abraham, and Abigail and Solomon and the Rich Woman from Shumen, all who loved God and were a blessing to their fellow-man, and all of them were very rich. And the New Testament tells of those who were very well off, including the Roman Centurion that built a synagogue for the Jewish People of Capernaum, and Barnabas, both of whom had means. And Jesus himself said that He came to give us abundant life, right here on earth.

On the other hand, rich, yet wise King Solomon said “Labor not to be rich.” (How ironic is that?) And Paul told Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The Message Bible puts it this way: “Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” The Bible also speaks of the deceitfulness of riches which “choke the Word.” The New Living Translation says that the “lure of wealth” crowds out the message that God intends for us to receive.

And just what is that message? The message from Heaven is that the Kingdom of God is more important than the things of this world. Yes God wants us to enjoy everyday life, but enjoying everyday life is not the goal of life. If we seek God first, He promised to add things to our life. It doesn’t work the other way around. God comes before things, and money; things and money do not come before God.

Anyway, that was the color commentary — here’s the play-by-play:

“Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a five-year extension with the New York Giants that makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in football.

The three-time Pro Bowler can receive a maximum $95 million over the course of the deal ($90 million base value plus $5 million in incentives), with $65 million in total guaranteed money, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, including $41 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Over the first three years of the deal, Beckham will be paid $60 million for an average of $20 million a year over that earlier term. This means the new money average of the extension is $18 million a year over the five years, but his total average over the entire deal is $16.4 million a year over six years, which includes his previous option year (for this season).”

Survival of the Fittest

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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.

Win And You’re In, a.k.a., Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

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A win and they would be in. At least as a wildcard team. Forget the Division; Dallas had that locked up weeks ago.

A win would begin the postseason for the Washington Redskins. And they had two — count them — TWO chances to win AT HOME in December to clinch a playoff spot. But both times, they failed. Both times they fizzled. Both times, the favored team from Washington flunked out — and some would say punked out. With the season on the line, the offense was practically fruitless and the defense was essentially useless in its efforts to stop a determined but defective Giants team.

The Washington Redskins faltered ignominiously after a season of high hopes and, as far as statistics go, exceeded expectations. And in both games, especially yesterday against their heated and hated arch rivals, the New York Giants, the Redskins’ play was measly and miserable and at times almost intolerable. Their effort was lacking as the defense was sacking their franchise QB, Kirk Cousins. In other words, for three and half quarters, their energy and “oomph” towards a run at a playoff spot and a chance to play in Super Bowl LI just wasn’t there.

Sunday’s defeat had no turning point. There was no single play or crucial drive when things started going awry for the Redskins, who were favored by a touchdown. The Redskins were poor from the start in every way.  Asked Sunday night whether he felt he had the Redskins ready to compete, Coach Gruden said: “I like to think so, but obviously the results say otherwise, so what can you say?”

To answer Kirk Cousins question from last year, “No, we don’t like that.”

Forced to punt on their first five possessions, the Redskins were held scoreless in the first half for the first time all season. A last-ditch effort to avoid the shutout — a 57-yard field goal attempt by Dustin Hopkins — sailed left of the uprights, leaving the Redskins to trudge to the locker room trailing 10-0.

Their third-ranked offense, which was averaging 411.3 yards per game, was stymied by the Giants’ aggressive front seven. Protecting Cousins had been a strength all season, with the offensive line allowing just 19 sacks through 15 games. On Sunday, Cousins was sacked four times by early in the third quarter. And Cousins played throughout as if pass rushers were converging from all corners. Too bad, so sad.

So what’s next for the Redskins in general and for Kirk Cousins in particular? Only time will tell. Changes need to be made, but where do you start? Cousins set a franchise RECORD for passing yards this season. Seriously? Statistically, he’s the best Redskins QB ever!  EVER! And some want him canned.

So what can we learn?

The point is this: we need to be ready to play, especially in the “big games” of our lives. We need to prepare and pre plan and prime and pump ourselves up for every “big” occurrence we are confronted with. You and I need to be ready to play every day, but we especially need to be ready to deal with the critical and crucial moments of our lives.

In other words, prior preparation prevents poor performance. This truism is still true.

The NBA or the NFL? Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

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The NBA or the NFL? 

Right now, it’s hard to tell which sport is hot and which one is not. Both the NFL and the NBA are intriguing and exciting, heart pounding and foot stomping. Ever since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook split up, the NBA has been hotter than all get out. And on the other side of the ball, the Giants just beat the Cowboys, my pick to win this year’s Super Bowl.

So who’s hotter? The NBA or the NFL? While each compete for high ratings and the top ranking, we get to sit and watch.