You Play To Win The Game

edwards1.1

I love Herman Edwards. I love him not only because he played for Philly, but because he’s a no nonsense, straight up football guy. Herm’s classic rant “You Play To Win the Game” is worth repeating anyday, anytime. So here goes, from one of my earliest blogs way, way back when I first started blogging and launched Godandsports.net. 

Each and every journey begins with the first step.  And the first step toward championship living is the will to win.  Not ability, or skill or knowledge.  Just will.  A young man named Rudy dreamed of attending the University of Notre Dame and playing football for legendary coach Parseegian.  He wasn’t the biggest, he wasn’t the strongest or the fastest football player ever to suit up, but he had the one essential ingredient that lead to the fulfillment of his dream:  an iron will.  He went through disappointments, setbacks and slammed doors, but he willed his way to Notre Dame and onto the football field.  In fact, Rudy’s family came to see the last game of the only season he played, and witnessed him being carried off of the field in triumph. Rudy was the last Notre Dame Player to be carried off of the field.

James “Jimmy the Bulldog of Bergen” Braddock was called “Cinderella Man.”  He won the heavyweight boxing championship of the world by sheer will.  Braddock was a professional boxer who broke his hand in the ring and had to resort to working on the loading docks to earn a living.  When the stock market crashed he lost his life savings, so during The Great Depression, he fought outside of the ring for his children to have milk to drink and a warm bed to sleep in.  He fought to keep his family together after he went on public assistance and could not afford to pay to keep the lights on.  And yet after all he went through, he willed his way to defeat the heavily favored defending champion in 1934 not because he outwitted or out foxed his opponent, but because he would not be denied.

Athletes who lack the will to win loose before the game is even played.  Those who pay attention to the odds makers are not likely to overcome.  Christians who focus on the promises of God, and determine to believe in spite and despite the circumstances are the eventual champions.  Those who throw caution to the wind and ignore what the prognosticators say are the ones most likely to succeed.

Will is the intangible part of man that dictates the outcome of events.  David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1).  His praise was not contingent upon his circumstances or his condition or what others said.  He decided to praise God at all times.  In sunshine and rain, in sickness and pain, through heartache and heartbreak, David decided to bless the Lord.  2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not what he hath not”.  Meaning, if there is a readiness, willingness, God can use what little you have, and it will be more than enough.  God wants our will, then our bodies.  But if our will is not present our bodies will just go through the motions.  Our will is to do His will, and he will perfect that which concerns us.

Consecrate me now to Thy service Lord, by the power of grace Divine,

Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine.


One Reason Why You Must Watch the NFL Playoffs

 

Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin. He’s the answer. Now here’s the question.

Football in January. The last day of the season for football is kind of and almost like Opening Day in Baseball. Almost. Excitement fills the air as hope springs eternal. It seems like every team (or at least a lot of teams) have a shot at winning it all. And it’s the time the big boys play their best and the also rans play their worst.

The Pittsburg Steelers are in the Playoffs. Again. Thanks to the coaching of their leader, Mike Tomlin, and the choking of their rivals, the New York Jets, who lost a must win game on the last day of the regular season to the Buffalo Bills. All the Jets had to do was win and they were in. And against the so-so Bills, you figure that wasn’t a tough task to tackle. But muff the punt they did,
and the Jets are going home after making plans to make a deep run in the playoffs (playoffs, are you kiddin’ me?) Go figure.

So right off the bat, we learn that life is about coaching and teaching and education and instruction. And the great teachers and trainers and instructors and tutors know how to get the best out of their students and the best students know how to get and glean and gather and garner the most from the best teachers. And Mike Tomlin is a masterful motivator and a credible communicator. And that’s why Pittsburg won and the Jets lost.

We also learn that there must be a connection and correlation between player and coach. And that’s why Chip Kelly is out a job! (But let’s not go there.) Anyway, the players have to play but the coaches have to coach. It’s that simple. And the Pittsburg Steelers kept playing and Mike Tomlin kept coaching his guys right into the second season.

Mike Tomlin was named the 16th head coach in Pittsburgh Steelers history on January 22, 2007. Hired at the age of 34, Tomlin became only the third head coach hired by the Steelers since 1969.

Tomlin became the youngest head coach in NFL history to both coach in and win a Super Bowl when he led the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. By winning the Super Bowl in only his second season as a head coach, he also became the fastest to win a Super Bowl title in Steelers history.

In his eight years as head coach of the Steelers, Tomlin has led Pittsburgh to four AFC North titles (including 2014) and has guided the Steelers to the playoffs five times, including two trips to the Super Bowl (XLIII and XLV). Tomlin has won at least five home games in each of his first eight years, including six at Heinz Field in 2014.

So here’s to Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. My home town team Eagles are going home (but we’re getting a new coach – Yay!), so I need a team to root and clap and cheer for, and now, that includes the “other” team from PA.

It’s Tim Tebow Time in Philly!

tebow-eagles

Timmy Tebow is an Eagle. A Philadelphia Eagle. As of this writing, he’s (apparently) made the team and now he’s the third string quarterback on the squad coached by Chip Kelly, a man who’s not afraid to make bold decisions (just ask DeSean Jackson and Shady McCoy).  Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah — Tim Tebow’s an Eagle!

Tebow has played well at times this preseason and finished well in the fourth preseason game against the New York Jets. It has been speculated that he could be a two-point conversion specialist, and Eagles coach Chip Kelly used him in that role early in the third preseason game.

Tebow’s history is an up and down and all around affair. He’s bounced from team to team and from town to town and he’s taken a lickin – but he keeps on tickin. If Tebow does make it back to the NFL, and apparently he has, it would be a remarkable, comeback story. 

Tebow played college football for the University of Florida, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and appearing on BCS National Championship-winning teams during the 2006 and 2008 seasons. Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

As a member of the Denver Broncos, he started the last three games of his rookie season and became the team’s full-time starting quarterback beginning in the sixth game of 2011. The Broncos were 1–4 before he became the starter, but began winning with him on the field, often coming from behind late in the fourth quarter, until they won their first AFC West title and first playoff game since 2005, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime.

Tebow was traded to the New York Jets during the offseason after the Broncos acquired free agent quarterback Peyton Manning. Tebow received little playing time for the Jets and on April 29, 2013, the Jets released Tebow after drafting quarterback Geno Smith. He signed a two-year, non-guaranteed contract with the New England Patriots on June 11, 2013. But then he was cut by the New England Patriots at the end of the 2013 preseason. He was a free agent for a long time before the Patriots signed him, and spent the 2013 regular season out of football. That’s right, OUT OF FOOTBALL! (Hear that RGIII?) He joined ESPN’s SEC Network and it looked like his football career was over.

After two seasons away from the game, Tebow signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on April 20, 2015. The Eagles, with a coach who thinks differently about a lot of things, gave him a shot this year. Tebow played a significant amount through the preseason and Kelly defended mistakes he seemed to make. Reports indicated the Eagles wanted to keep Tebow on the roster. The news seemed positive on Tebow; it was just hard to figure out if they would keep him instead of Barkley, the presumptive third string QB on the team, who played ahead of him all preseason.

And this just in: The Eagles just TRADED Matt Barkley to Arizona. Go figure! Without Barkley around anymore, Tebow’s chances of making the roster and completing a really fun story got a lot better.

Tim-Tebow-Eagles

So the moral of the story is this: it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. And it ain’t over till God says it’s over. And that should encourage someone and anyone and everyone out there whose hopes have been hampered and whose dreams have been dampered and whose determination has been derailed. There’s still hope.

Tebow’s not what he used to be, but now, maybe now, he’ll be even better. Not just at football, but at the game of life.

Who Decides Who Deserves Another Chance?

Ikemefuna Enemkpali

Peter messed up big time. He had a big mouth and a hot head and a little patience and a lot of lip.  He walked on water and skated on thin ice. He was hot and cold and sweet and sour all at the same time. He pressed and pushed his way to the front to confess that Jesus was the Messiah and slunked and skunked his way back to the back to deny him.  He had high, highs and low, lows like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us, he did something he would regret the rest of his life.

But he got another chance.

Ikemefuna “IK” Enemkpali messed up. Enemkapali (pronounced in-em-PAUL-ee) is a New York Jets, err, WAS a New York Jets player who punched his teammate, who just so happened to be the team’s quarterback, in the face, breaking his jaw.  Geno Smith has been a punching bag before, but never quite like this. Now, the Jets quarterback is out 6 to 10 weeks after being “sucker punched” by his teammate, a non-starting backup, IN THE LOCKER ROOM, Tuesday morning. Smith has a broken jaw that will require surgery.

Enempkpali

Jet’s Head Coach Todd Bowles would not disclose what prompted the altercation other than to call it “very childish” and something unrelated to football that “sixth graders could have talked about.” Published reports, citing anonymous sources, indicate that it derived from Smith’s failure to reimburse Enemkpali $600 in airfare and limousine fees after Smith could not attend Enemkpali’s charity event last month in Texas.

“It’s something we don’t tolerate; it’s something we can’t stand,” Bowles said. “And you don’t walk up to another man and punch him in the face.” The episode shocked and deflated the Jets, scrubbing the optimism that has permeated the franchise since a new regime took over in January and revamped the roster after four seasons without a playoff berth.

Enemkpali apologized to the Jets’ organization and their fans in a statement, but was immediately released by the Jets.  Fights do happen in training camp, but they usually happen on the field. And even then fights are not acceptable.

Remember, fighting is not for fun.

And now, Enemkpali has a new team and a new lease on life.  Believe it or not, Enemkpali was signed by former Jets Coach Rex Ryan, who is now with the Buffalo Bills.  Go figure. Just like that, a goon of a guy who acts like a thug and huffs like a hood, a ruffian and a hooligan, gets another chance.  Deserving or not.

And no one should be surprised that IK Enemkpali is the newest member of the Buffalo Bills. Coach Rex Ryan’s first move in the restructuring of the Buffalo roster was signing controversial offensive guard Richie Incognito barely three weeks after he had taken the Buffalo job.

If Ryan was willing to take on a player who had been suspended by the NFL and out of the league for nearly a year and a half due to a bullying incident in Miami, signing one of his former Jets just a day after Enemkpali slugged New York quarterback Geno Smith in the face and broke his jaw seems in line.

Now the law (and Roger Goodell and the NFL) may not see it this way, because Enemkapli’s act of aggression anywhere else would be considered aggravated assault, a punishable offense.  So while he may have a new lease on life, he also may have to lease out his locker as he may not need it for a while.

And so the question is this: does Enemkapli deserve another chance? Do YOU deserve another chance? Not just a second chance, but another chance? And who decides who deserves another chance?   Thank God it’s not you and thank God it’s not me. Thank Heaven that God decides that we all deserve another chance.  

Think about it.  

Just how many “second chances” have you had in your life?

Mark Sanchez: A Veteran Has His Day

mark-sanchez-gq

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.”

mark-sanchez-eagles

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. 

 

You Play To Win The Game

edwards1.1

Herman Edwards classic rant “You Play To Win the Game” is worth repeating anyday, anytime. So here goes, from one of my earliest blogs way, way back when I first started blogging and launched Godandsports.net. 

Each and every journey begins with the first step.  And the first step toward championship living is the will to win.  Not ability, or skill or knowledge.  Just will.  A young man named Rudy dreamed of attending the University of Notre Dame and playing football for legendary coach Parseegian.  He wasn’t the biggest, he wasn’t the strongest or the fastest football player ever to suit up, but he had the one essential ingredient that lead to the fulfillment of his dream:  an iron will.  He went through disappointments, setbacks and slammed doors, but he willed his way to Notre Dame and onto the football field.  In fact, Rudy’s family came to see the last game of the only season he played, and witnessed him being carried off of the field in triumph. Rudy was the last Notre Dame Player to be carried off of the field.

James “Jimmy the Bulldog of Bergen” Braddock was called “Cinderella Man.”  He won the heavyweight boxing championship of the world by sheer will.  Braddock was a professional boxer who broke his hand in the ring and had to resort to working on the loading docks to earn a living.  When the stock market crashed he lost his life savings, so during The Great Depression, he fought outside of the ring for his children to have milk to drink and a warm bed to sleep in.  He fought to keep his family together after he went on public assistance and could not afford to pay to keep the lights on.  And yet after all he went through, he willed his way to defeat the heavily favored defending champion in 1934 not because he outwitted or out foxed his opponent, but because he would not be denied.

Athletes who lack the will to win loose before the game is even played.  Those who pay attention to the odds makers are not likely to overcome.  Christians who focus on the promises of God, and determine to believe in spite and despite the circumstances are the eventual champions.  Those who throw caution to the wind and ignore what the prognosticators say are the ones most likely to succeed.

Will is the intangible part of man that dictates the outcome of events.  David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1).  His praise was not contingent upon his circumstances or his condition or what others said.  He decided to praise God at all times.  In sunshine and rain, in sickness and pain, through heartache and heartbreak, David decided to bless the Lord.  2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not what he hath not”.  Meaning, if there is a readiness, willingness, God can use what little you have, and it will be more than enough.  God wants our will, then our bodies.  But if our will is not present our bodies will just go through the motions.  Our will is to do His will, and he will perfect that which concerns us.

Consecrate me now to Thy service Lord, by the power of grace Divine,

Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine.