My Rookie Is Better Than Your Rookie!

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My Rookie QB Is Better Than Your Rookie QB!

That’s what Philly Fans everywhere are saying to Dallas fans right now as we witness the “Rise of the NFC East Rookies.” Carson Wentz, the Eagles 2nd Pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, led his team to a convincing 29-10 win at “The Link” in South Philly. Wentz wowed everyone who wanted to watch by throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in a stellar NFL debut as the Philadelphia Eagles beat Robert Griffin III and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Promoted from No. 3 quarterback to starter just eight days ago, the No. 2 overall pick from North Dakota State looked like a potential franchise player. Wentz played mistake-free football despite missing the last three preseason games with injured ribs. He finished 22 of 37 with a 101.0 passer rating. So what did Wentz have to say about opening Day?

I felt very confident,” Wentz said. “It’s a great first start.”

While Carson looked real good, at times, so did Dak. It remains to be seen which QB will excel or exceed expectations. For now, all of Philly has breathed a collective sigh of relief as we beat a beatable team AT HOME. And he only played 5 minutes in the pre-season. Go figure! But let’s not purchase NFC East Championship Banners just yet.

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott, the 8th quarterback chosen in this year’s Draft, tried to lead his team to a dramatic comeback, only to fall to the New York “Football” Giants, 20-19, in Big “D.” The Cowboys had a chance late, but they failed to get in position for a game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds. Out of timeouts, Terrance Williams needed to get out of bounds on the game’s final play. But he cut inside instead of running out of bounds and there wasn’t enough time left to spike the ball to stop the clock. What a way to end the game. So while he didn’t lose the game, he didn’t win it either.

Dak lost to a Division rival with a veteran called Eli Manning at the helm. He’s a big kid with a strong arm, just like Carson. So after one loss, it’s not time to press the panic button in Dallas yet. Dak didn’t throw a touchdown pass but he also didn’t turn it over, either. Dak will definitely need to find a way to get Dez Bryant involved going forward. Bryant was targeted five times and nearly had a highlight TD grab. But the team’s star receiver finished with only 1 catch for 8 yards. That has to change for this offense to reach its potential. Prescott finished 25 of 44 for 227 yards and a 70.9 passer rating.

So, like I said, MY rookie beat the Dallas rookie – at least for today. So while a stellar start is a good thing, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Odell Beckham Jr: OBJr = OMG!

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Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants’ sassy and sensational young receiver, is a knucklehead. Or maybe he’s a knucklehead in the making. Or maybe he’s already a full-fledged, full-blown, full throttle blockhead who doesn’t know his butt from his belly bottom. I’m talking dumb and dumber, personified.

Beckham in two seasons has become one of pro football’s most popular and celebrated players and the focal point of the Giants’ offense. His spectacular one-handed catches and entertaining end zone dances after touchdowns have made him a marquee name in sports and a frequent pitchman for commercial products across multiple media platforms. Beckham also graced the cover of Madden N.F.L. 2016, the best-selling sports video game.

But he’s also a knucklehead. A knucklehead is a person of questionable intelligence. The point is, figuratively speaking, that the size of their brain is being compared to the size of a human knuckle. The term is similar to pinhead, or someone of limited intelligence and with a mean nature or someone who prefers using their knuckles or fists, to using their head.

Odell Beckham Jr., or OBJR., was penalized three times for unsportsmanlike conduct during a game-long battle with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman AND THEN after the game he was suspended by the NFL for one game because he repeatedly tangled with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

The suspension was for multiple acts as Beckham was whistled for three personal fouls (and it could have been more) for unnecessary roughness. But the most glaring incident came in the third quarter, when Beckham, running at full speed, slammed his helmet into the side of Norman’s. In college they call that “targeting” and it warrants an immediate ejection from the game, whether it was unintentional or not.

In announcing the suspension, the league referred to the vicious collision as a flagrant hit against a defenseless player, “in which Beckham left his feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent.” Unbelievable.

In an era where safety comes first and flagrant fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness are examined under a microscope, players do well to play within the rules and within themselves and not let their emotions get the best of them, especially when it comes to inflicting injury on another player. But OBJR doesn’t see it that way.  

After the game, Beckham defended himself.

“We are out there playing football,” he said. “We are competing. You are a competitor. I’m a competitor. We are always going to go at it.”

Wow. “Go at it” he says. Slamming your head into another player is called targeting or spearing, and once they called it head hunting. Can somebody say “Knucklehead!?”

Not surprisingly, this is not the first time OBJR has been fined for this type of behavior. In fact, this is the FOURTH, count it, fourth time Beckham has been suspended or fined in his short career for violent acts or temper tantrums. In 2014, he was fined $10,000 for kicking Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree in a brawl-filled game in St. Louis. The same month, he was fined $11,025 for taking off his helmet and throwing it to the turf during a prolonged protest of a late tackle out of bounds. Early this season, Beckham was fined $8,681 for throwing a punch at Buffalo Bills safety Duke Williams.

So what can we learn? Or, more pointedly, what should Mr. Beckham learn?  He is 23 years old; old enough to know better and yet young enough not to know what he doesn’t know.  And he doesn’t know how to behave like a professional. He’s substituted macho chauvinism for proper professionalism and is behaving badly like so many of his other young and unbridled stud athletes these days. Jahlil Okafor, take note (https://godandsports.net/2015/12/02/jahlil-okafors-rookie-mistakes/). 

So let’s just hope and pray that his pride is humbled before his haughty, high mindedness costs him more than fines and one game suspensions.

Wins That You Just Have To Have

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Tonight’s Monday Night.

And that means Monday Night Football. And tonight’s football game between my Philadelphia Eagles (pronounced Iggles for those that don’t know), and the New York Football Giants, is a must win. It’s a must win for my Eagles in every way. https://godandsports.net/2014/11/21/a-must-win/

Some games mean more than others. Some games count for more than others. And some games are weighted heavier than others. I know what you’re thinking; no they don’t. Every game is weighted the same, you say. Not so. Some games are bigger and larger and greater in size and scope and significance than others. And I’m talking regular season here. I’m not even talking playoffs (Playoff’s? Are you kiddin’ me?) https://godandsports.net/2014/01/11/play-on-in-the-playoffs/

Anyway, all Eagles fans can do tonight is sing our fight song and hope that the home team comes with their “A” Game, because they’re gonna need it.

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There are times when you just have to have a win. Any kind of win. A win can be a break when you’re late on anything or a favor from a friend or a hand from a stranger. Those are wins, and when you’re in a straight or in a fix or in a bind of any kind, you just have to have a win.

And, believe it or not, these wins come by faith. Because sometimes, in order to get a break, you have to make a break.

Spiritually speaking, we need to discern when to go for broke and when to play the averages. We need to know when to tune it up and when to tone it down. We need to know when to holler and when to whisper. We need to know what’s urgent and what’s just important. And that takes maturity and sagacity and wisdom and understanding and insight and foresight. 

All of these come from God. And to get there, it sounds like we should pray the Serenity Prayer. Because there are some things that you CAN change. And in order for things to change, you have to know what you can change, and know what you can’t.

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That’s God’s Playbook.

To Stay Up, or Not Stay Up and Watch All of a Monday Night Football Game: That’s The Question

Monday-night-football

“Oktoberfest” is here. Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey. So many games, so little time. 

For true sports fans, this is one of the best times of the year. It’s the time of year when all four major “food” groups — football, baseball, basketball and hockey, are played at the same time.

Football is in full swing, with the NFL leading the way and the NCAA men running right behind. Then we have “Baseball in October.” The ALCS and NLCS are ongoing (and we’re all pulling for the Cubs, right?) And the NHL is underway and the NBA is on the way.

So for sports junkies, this time of year is near next to nirvana. So keep up with the stats and the scores and the highlights and the players under the bright lights.

And stay up. That’s right — stay up. There are so many games on that run way past my bed time, so it’s tough for us old heads to manage. Tonight we have Sunday Night Football AND the Mets and the Cubs play. But the games don’t start until past 8 o’clock. And it’s a school night.

And tomorrow night is a big, big, big Monday Night Football game. My Philadelphia Eagles play a virtual “must win” game tomorrow at home in South Philly at “The Link” (Lincoln Financial Field) and I will have to take a nap at work if I’m going to be able to stay up and watch the whole game. If we win and defeat the New York “Football” Giants, we’ll be tied with them at 3-3 at the top of the Division. Yeah, I know — 3-3 ‘aint great, but it beats being 2-4.

So let’s enjoy the fall, football weather and the cool, crisp days and the bright, sunny rays and the crescent, harvest moons and the cold, frosty nights and the turning, falling leaves and the smorgasbord of football, baseball, basketball and hockey games to choose from. If only the entire year could be as exciting and as inviting as October.

Spiritually speaking, seasons and times and conditions change. Nothing is static, in sports or in life. And that’s one of the lessons sports teaches us. Don’t get complacent with the lead (just ask Michigan) and don’t think that because you’re in first place in April that you’ll end up in first place in September (just ask the Washington Nationals). And don’t get down if you’re struggling now. Things change.

So we all have to change and prepare and plan and make ready for what comes next. Because what comes next is better than what has been.

And the best is yet to come.

It’s That Simple

Lose to Win

Is your team a good team, a bad team, a glad team, or a sad team?

Just where does your team fit in?  As for me, my Eagles are not a good team. And neither are the Washington Redskins, but I’m not going to blog about them. Right now, the Eagles and the Redskins are bad teams.  There’s no gladness to be had, and so they are nothing more, nothing less than a sad team, which makes for a mad team.

Dallas is 2-0, but they’ve lost their quarterback, Tony Romo (thanks to the Eagles); the New York “Football” Giants beat the Redskins, but that’s not saying much; and the Eagles and the Redskins, well, they’re fighting for last place in the NFC East — and if this were college and they were to play in a “Bowl” at the end of the season, they would have to flip for the right to play in the “Toilet Bowl.” 

How do you go from bad and sad and mad to glad?  How do you turn things around and pull an upset and stage a comeback? 

Make necessary changes. It’s that simple. Because you have to lose to win. I’m not so good at some things. So if I want to improve myself and better myself and advance in those weak areas, I need to get mad enough to win (https://godandsports.net/2015/01/29/mad-enough-to-win/). I need to get mad enough and realize I’m bad enough to necessitate the need make the move from bad and sad to glad. Easy, peasy, right?  Almost.

In order to be good you have to want to be good and then you have to work to be good. It’s that simple. The problem with most of us is that we don’t want to put the work in; we’re not willing to put the work in so that God can get to work out all of our kinks and our quirks and our faults and our foibles. And I do mean all.

In other words, in order to win you have to lose yourself. Because the way up is always down. Losing your ego and your pride and sometimes your hide is necessary in order to find your way. Hillsong sings that we touch the sky when our knees hit the ground. It’s that simple.

So take if from the bad teams in the NFC East.  Do you want to improve? Do you want to get better and climb higher and run further?  It’s simple. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be lethargic. And for Pete’s sake, don’t blame your losses and misses and miscues and mistakes on anyone but yourself. YOU and only you are responsible for your actions. It’s that simple.

So don’t be a punk. Punk means a lot of things, including being of very poor quality, cheap and cheesy.  So don’t punk out and give up or give out.  Fix you. And stop trying to fix everybody else. Stop looking at others weaknesses and shortcomings and stare your own self down for a change.   

It’s that simple.

Hall of Fame, Life of Shame

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Lawrence Julius Taylor, nicknamed “LT”, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999. In the touching photo above, after the son introduced his father, they embraced and gave us this tender, moving memory.

The Hall of Fame was his destiny. The rash and brash linebacker for the New York “Football” Giants was arguably the best to play the game at his position.  On the field, he was tough and torrid, ruthless and relentless, hard-hitting and bull rushing; he was loved by many but loathed by many more.  Off the field, the description of his life was equally yet inequitably the opposite side of the same coin: rough and ragged, tragic and turbulent, messy and moody; his was a loose life and an edgy existence.

A sure “Hall of Famer” from day one, Taylor played his entire professional career for his beloved Giants (1981–1993), most of which with his befriended coach,  Bill Parcells. By playing outside linebacker he changed the game of football by shadowing the quarterback, often forcing a bad pass. He is considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of football, and has been ranked as the greatest defensive player in league history by former players, coaches, media members, and news outlets such as the NFL Network, and Sporting News. Said one coach of Taylor: “He was reckless, just reckless.”

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While elected to the Hall of Fame he also lived a life of shame. In contrast to his success on the football field, Taylor’s personal life has been marred by drug usage and controversy. When Taylor was once asked what he could do that no outside linebacker could, his answer was, “Drink”. However, alcohol abuse was not the largest of his substance abuse problems. After admitting to and testing positive for cocaine in 1987, he was suspended from football for 30 days in 1988 after failing a second drug test. After his second positive test he gave up drugs for five years as a third positive test would have ended his career.

His life of shame was as brash and as brazen as his rise to fame. Taylor often spoke of his NFL years, which he played with reckless abandon, and the drug-abusing stages of his life as the “L.T.” periods of his life. He described “L.T.” as an adrenaline junkie who lived life on a thrill ride. Taylor said in 2003 that “L. T. died a long time ago, and I don’t miss him at all…all that’s left is Lawrence Taylor.”[1]

LT Saved by Golf

The Hall of Fame and a life of shame. It doesn’t seem that the two should go together, but unfortunately, sometimes they do. Just ask Samson. Samson is listed in the Biblical “Hall of Faith.”  On the field, Samson could single-handedly route the Philistines and sack their leaders with his bull rush anointing. Off the field, Samson fell prey to the wiles of whimsical women, not the least of which included devilish Delilah, through whose machinations he lost his spiritual power. Samson lost his heart and his hair, his sense and his sight in a most shameful way; he was sentenced to a disgraceful and dishonorable life after his standout career as a judge who once delivered Israel. 

Hebrews Chapter 11 recounts the heroic exploits of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Moses, Joshua and Rahab; Gideon, David and Samuel. And yes, Samson made this list in spite of his reckless, loose and licentious living. Samson made the list and is included with other Biblical greats in the Hall of Faith. God’s grace allowed Samson’s life to be an example for us to follow, and not to follow.  His strength was laudable, and his weakness was deplorable. 

Lest we’re too hard on Sampson and LT, we all must remember that we too can go from fame to shame.  We can all learn lessons, discern distinctives, and earn points for life from both sides of the same spiritual coin. In the end, Samson yet again delivered Israel, and in death he defeated more Philistines than he killed in his life.

In his death, his life of shame indeed was turned back to a life fame.