Can Cam Carry Carolina?

Cam Newton NFL Draft

So who ya got? Who are you picking to win Super Bowl 50? Peyton or Cam? The Broncos or Carolina? Defense or offense? For me, there are a plethora of plots and subplots in this year’s golden goose of a game, the 50th Super Bowl. But unlike any other Super Bowl, this one will be remembered and recalled and ruminated upon for years to come. And, the play of the quarterback, as always, is front and center stage.

And so the question is this: Can Cam carry Carolina?

As stated earlier in this blog and elsewhere, Cam is the hottest thing since sliced bread when it comes to the NFL. When it comes to gloating and floating and doting over the game that took ownership of a day of the week from the institutional church, Roger Goodell is no dumbbell. He may have missed it way right in 2015 with Brady and “Deflategate” and Goodell may have blown it way left in 2014 with the Ray Rice “Incident,” (https://godandsports.net/2014/09/18/roger-goodell-and-the-nfls-week-from-hell/)  but Goodell certainly can tell that Cam can be a bombshell and this William Tell can ignite a groundswell that can define and carry the entire NFL for years to come. And that’s the storyline of this Super Bowl in a nutshell.

As for Cam, he has carried his team thus far. First of all, Cam can carry his own weight. He was drafted No. 1 and he wears No. 1 and he wants to be No. 1, but he will have to get past Peyton first. And if he loses, all of those records and stats and firsts and figures mean nothing. But if Carolina wins it all . . . Sure there might be next year, but next year will be easier to win again if they win right now.

Cam is carrying his team and his teammates and his conference and his city and his race and his religion and everything else that his haters want to dump on him. And he’s carrying them all, with grace. But how does he do it?

Warren Moon described how Cam is carrying all of this so, so well:

First, we had to prove we could play the position,” Moon said. “Then we had to face questions about our leadership abilities. Even when you look at the guys who played the position in my time — myself, Doug Williams, even a Randall Cunningham — we were all laid back. Now it’s more of a ‘me’ generation and you can show more of your personality. It used to be that you had to be more like a politician than a football player to be a black quarterback. Cam plays the game with his personality.

That’s it! That’s absolutely it. Cam is being HIMSELF. He’s playing the game with his personality. Yes many clam that Cam is a ham, but I beg to differ. If you or I had been through half of what this young man has been through, and he went through all of his stuff in the fishbowl of the public spotlight, we may have acted and reacted differently. Cam has set more records and run for more yards and scored more touchdowns and put up more points than you can shake a stick at. And that’s why winning the Super Bowl is so important for him. As if he hasn’t already validated himsellf.

 

So here’s to a great game. I like Peyton Manning. I do. And if he wins, I will be glad for him. Because this Super Bowl is really a “win win.” Cam or Peyton, both are so deserving and so admired and so well-liked that it’s hard not to root for both of them. So, as they say, may the best team, not necessarily the best quarterback, win.

Pay to Play: Greg Hardy, Domestic Violence and the NFL

Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy beat up his girlfriend, got charged for the crime, was cut by the Carolina Panthers, found a new home with the Dallas Cowboys, then served a four game suspension (reduced from ten games) for his actions. And that, my friends, is how you pay to play. The 27-year-old athlete signed an $11.3 million contract with the Cowboys after being dumped – and rightfully so — by the Carolina Panthers. He was back on the field Sunday night for the Cowboys’ 33-27 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the latest fiasco involving yet another NFL superstar and domestic violence, another privileged and pretentious, arrogant and indulgent, elitist and entitled overpaid athlete is allowed by Roger Goodell and the League to play despite the latest evidence against him. Pictures of Hardy’s injured girlfriend surfaced Friday, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. http://deadspin.com/this-is-why-nfl-star-greg-hardy-was-arrested-for-assaul-1739117634?trending_test_d&utm_expid=66866090-62.H_y_0o51QhmMY_tue7bevQ.4&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fus.search.yahoo.com%2F

Here’s the story:

The Dallas Cowboy star defensive end was arrested last year for assaulting his then-girlfriend. Nearly 50 photographs of the woman’s injuries have surfaced online and people are now questioning why he is still allowed to wear an NFL uniform, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

The May 2014 attack left Nicole Holder with bruises all over her body. She told police Hardy threw her against a bathroom wall, dragged her by her hair onto a futon covered with guns and also tried to strangle her.

“I’m seeing someone who had just gotten the hell beaten out of her,” described staff writer Kyle Wagner. “She worried that no matter what she said, nothing would happen to him. And it turns out that she was mostly right.”

If Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, too often more concerned about winning games than doing the right thing, really wanted to make a strong statement that he is all-in on the NFL’s improved personal conduct policy after the Ray Rice crisis, he would have cut Hardy on Friday. Of course, he never should have signed him.

Hardy was found guilty by a judge last year, then he appealed. The case was dropped when Holder did not make herself available to testify — the district attorney said she reached a settlement with Hardy. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cowboys-greg-hardy-losing-support-after-graphic-photos-surface/

It appears by all that Hardy paid off Holder in order to squash the case and silence her testimony. It’s call “hush money.” It’s also called pay to play.

And it’s all such a shame. Allowing Hardy to play is just wrong. If domestic violence is wrong, and it is, then it’s wrong for everybody, not just the ones that can’t get a new contract with a new team. It absolutely sends the wrong message. It’s the wrong thing to allow a criminal — because that’s what people who commit crimes and are found guilty are called – to continue to play in the NFL.

Period.

Roger Goodell And The NFL’s Week From Hell

Goodell

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water!  Whew!  Poor Roger Goodell.  He’s taking a licking, and the poor guy is barely ticking.  Last week, the Commissioner of the National Football League had his hands full.  As if the Ray Rice domestic violence fiasco wasn’t enough, by the end of the same week, another all-star got in trouble and it’s all over the news.  Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was indicted, imprisoned and “impounded” by his team for child abuse.  Oh boy.  In light of all of this at the same time, what’s an NFL Commissioner to do?

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.  Another NFL player, Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, was indicted for domestic violence.  AND if that wasn’t enough, the Carolina Panthers decided that star defensive end Greg Hardy won’t play any more games for the team until his domestic violence case is resolved.  My, my, my.

The cries for Goodell’s head are getting louder and louder.  If Goodell wasn’t in hot water with the Rice “incident,” he sure is now.

Sometimes, just when you thought things were going to get better, they got worse. As believers, how do we deal with disaster?  How do we deal with adversity and atrocity?  Christians are supposed to be the poster children for how to deal and how to cope and how not only survive, but to thrive amidst turmoil and trauma and stress and strain.  We are the examples and exemplars and samples and specimens for how to overcome.

The best athletes overcome and overtake and overwhelm and overpower every obstacle that comes their way in order to win.  In fact, sometimes it takes trials and tribulations to prompt us to achieve. Speaking of the Jewish people just before they left and while they were yet still slopping slaves in Egypt, the Bible says that “the more that the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew” (Exodus 1:12).

Because we believe in and trust in and have faith in a higher power, we can rest and relax when the chips are down. When our funds are low and our debts are high, when we want to smile but we have to sigh, that’s when the Christians of 1st Century Rome were, and that’s when Christians of every age are at our best.

Like a ship that’s tossed and driven, battered by an angry sea; when the storms of life are raging, and the fury falls on me; I wonder what I have done, to make this race so hard to run; And I say to my soul, ‘Soul take courage, the Lord will make a way somehow.’

So what do we do when all else fails? What do we do when all is falling apart and nothing is coming together? Call on Jesus!  The disciples found themselves in the middle of a storm, and Jesus lost himself in the hull of the boat and went to sleep.  When things got real bad, they decided it was time to wake up Jesus.  Jesus got up from sleep, rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a great calm.  How about that for a turnaround!

When it looks real bad, that’s when every child of the King can say, I believe it’s going to end up real good.  What the devil means for our destruction, God can turn around and use as part of our construction. Where sin and shame and chaos and confusion and disaster and destruction and muck and mire and all kinds of mess abound, that’s where grace abounds all the more.

Good can come out of this NFL mess.  It can. President Abraham Lincoln quoted the 19th Psalm in the Gettysburg Address, which is etched on the walls of the Memorial that bears his name: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9).  Correction and guidance come from Heaven and not from hell.  And if we repent and turn around, we will experience turnarounds.  But we have to believe and trust God that it can and that it will.

So don’t get stuck in the mess.  Don’t wallow in the mire.  If you want things to go the right way, and you’re ready and willing to turn to God for help, your litter and clutter and refuse and rubbish can and will be recycled into something that can be of good use for you and for everyone else around you as well.

The Tragedy of It All

ray and janay rice

In the long litany of sports disasters, this one is right up there at the top.  Ray Rice is now notorious and nefarious and the video of him brutally punching his then fiancée, now wife, in the face at an Atlantic City Casino elevator will live in infamy.  Talk about a horrible, deplorable disgrace.  The scourge of domestic violence has reared its ugly head in yet another sector of our society, and it appears that there were some that attempted to cover up and pretty up and even dummy up a very gruesome face.

From the top to the bottom, those involved in the Rice “incident” are embroiled and entangled in the middle of a monster of a mess.  The NFL, the prosecutors, and the Baltimore Ravens Organization all are equally culpable. And while no one can pass judgment or throw stones because we all live in glass houses, in this case, broken shards of glass are falling down on a lot of heads even without a single stone being thrown.

Ray Rice and his wife Janay are now the poster children for what domestic violence looks like.  The sad part is that they don’t even know it.  And as we all know, DENIAL is not a river in Egypt.  It’s a terrible thing to have a problem and not know you have it.  Just like the emperor and his new clothes, everyone knew the truth except the one the truth was about.

Our prayer is that Ray and Janay get help.  This is not a condemnation or denunciation of this young couple.  It’s a cold, hard fact that many athletes, both men and women, have “issues” that need to be addressed but are instead swept under the rug in light of their talent. And addressing our issues is not an option; it’s a requirement.  Ray clearly has an issue with reckless and uncontrolled anger.  As for Janay, she is one of 47 million women in America who are victims of “domestic” violence.

Ray and Janay Rice are just like and no different than Esau and Elijah and Moses and Miriam.  These Bible notables had run-ins with rage and fall outs with fury.  Anger is a necessary emotion, but when left unchecked and unbridled, it can lead to this tragedy that is now on trial in the court of public opinion.

So let’s not pass judgment or make fun or even forget about Ray and Janay Rice. Their problems and their plight and their trials and their tribulations are not far from the rest of us.  Because we’re not perfect, everyone struggles with something.  And we all need help with our struggles if we are to conquer the demons that lurk within.  The sad truth is that their faults and their flaws and their failures have been laid bare in a way none of us hope ours will ever be.

We conclude with this note: can good come of this?  While it does not look like it now, we can only hope that some good will come out of this evil event.  And that’s something only God can do.