The Bible says to “rejoice with them that rejoice.” But the truth is, some people are easier to root for than others. And Andy Reid would be in the category of “some people” rather than the “others.” Andy has taken a licken and yet he keeps on ticken. I love it. Sounds a lot like a lot of us. Many of us have been through some tough times here lately. We’ve been through the fire and the flood. We’ve had some high highs and some low lows. Yet through it all, we’ve learned to trust in God. My, my.
Learning to trust God is redemption. Sports redemption is a little different from spiritual redemption, but the premise is just the same. After a loss, you are “found” and you find your way back from the brink of defeat, destruction and despair. It’s enough to drive one to tears of joy.
Here’s how Frank Schwab from Yahoo Sports describes Andy’s story, a story that we hope will have a story book ending:
“On January 4, 2013, Andy Reid was limping away from the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a 4-12 season and being fired. The Kansas City Chiefs were in even worse shape. They went 2-14 in 2012. On that day, the Chiefs hired Reid. The words “Super Bowl” were not mentioned during his introductory news conference a few days later. Both sides were just looking for some way out of the darkness.
But that was then, and this is now.
Now, the Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. They overcame another slow start and beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV.
‘We were blessed to be there and sometimes change is good,’ Reid said when announced as Chiefs coach, ‘change will be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles and on the other hand, it will be terrific for the Kansas City Chiefs.’
On Sunday, seven years after coming to Kansas City, Reid had his redemption and the Chiefs had snapped one of the most miserable droughts in the NFL.
The most compelling figure of this season’s Super Bowl could be Reid, who is still looking for a ring to validate a great career, and made some tough decisions that led to this trip to the NFL’s title game. As Reid stood on the podium after lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, Chiefs fans chanted ‘Andy! Andy!’ ”
Technically, this was not an upset. Technically, LSU was ranked ahead of Alabama. And technically, LSU should have been favored to beat Alabama, but they weren’t. LSU was ranked No. 2 and Alabama was ranked No. 3 in the polls. Alabama had history on their side. And Alabama was playing AT HOME. And yet LSU managed to throttle and thrash Coach Nick Saban and the consensus fan favorite Alabama Crimson Tide.
Coach Ed Orgeron and his LSU Tigers just won Game of the Century II. The Final: LSU 46 – Alabama 41, and it wasn’t that close. LSU lead by 20 at halftime and held on for the biggest win in Coach Ed Orgeron’s career.
And what about that journeyman head coach who just beat Alabama for the first time? What can we say about LSU’s Coach Orgeron? He’s been through the fire and the flood, and you just can’t help but be happy for this lumbering, lumberjack of a guy who is the persona of a college football coach. During the post-game press conference, as he squeezed his wife and his son close to his side, he said, “ I knew we were going to win.” That’s faith. He got the monkey off his back, and off of LSU’s back too. That’s redemption.
Coach Orgeron was saying that he was due, and by extension, he’s saying that you are too.
So the lesson is this: some of you have been through hell and high water, and you are wondering when things will turn around. Take courage, my brother. Lift up your head my sister. Live in the sunshine. Just like LSU, you are due a just reward for your patience and labor, and now your time has come.
Here’s what CBS sports had to say about the wining coach:
“Take a moment to appreciate what it took for Orgeron to get here. In his first opportunity as a head coach at Ole Miss, he went 10-25 over three seasons and didn’t win a single SEC game in 2007. He was given an opportunity as interim coach at USC when Lane Kiffin was fired in 2013 and led the Trojans to a 6-2 mark but got passed over for the full-time job in favor of Steve Sarkisian, who lasted just over one season. When LSU needed someone to fill in after it retained and then fired Les Miles, it was Orgeron who stepped up, again going 6-2 as an interim coach. The Tigers were on their way to passing over Orgeron for the job but wound up — for lack of a better term — stuck and gave him the opportunity after Jimbo Fisher and Tom Herman passed. So what has Orgeron done since? He’s led the Tigers to a 28-7 record the last three seasons, has LSU 9-0 and among the top two teams in the country in 2019 and improved his record against top 10 teams to 8-1 as coach of the Tigers. Can you say 2019 national Coach of the Year?”
If that doesn’t motivate you, consider getting your head examined. Seriously.
Here’s the skinny on the game itself:
“No. 2 LSU ended an eight-game losing streak to its SEC West rival with a stunning 46-41 victory over No. 3 Alabama under the lights at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscalusa. For the first time since 2011, the Tigers have beaten the Crimson Tide, and it was a game that felt entirely different than the one these teams played the last time LSU beat Alabama, 9-6.
The win not only got the proverbial Alabama monkey off LSU’s back, but it put the Tigers firmly in the driver’s seat in the SEC West. It likely cements Joe Burrow in front of the Heisman Trophy race as well. The LSU quarterback threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns, completing 31 of his 39 passes. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire combined for 180 total yards and four touchdowns (three rushing) in a star-making performance of his own.
The 46 points Burrow and the Tigers put on the board against Alabama were the most any team has scored against Alabama since Oct. 25, 2003, when Tennessee scored 51 points against the Tide. Of course, that game went to five overtimes and was only 20-20 at the end of regulation.
The game seemed over when Edwards-Helaire scored to make it 46-34 LSU with only 90 seconds remaining, but Alabama responded right away with an 85-yard touchdown to Devonta Smith to cut the lead to 46-41. LSU held on to win in a rare Game of the Century that managed to live up to the hype.
Let’s break down the game with some takeaways from LSU’s stunning, season-defining win over Alabama:
LSU is the best team in the nation: There, I said it — and I won’t apologize to Ohio State either (despite the thorough dismantling of Maryland on Saturday). What LSU did to Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium was historic. No, history shouldn’t matter when discussing which team deserves the No. 1 ranking. But LSU just walked into the belly of college football’s beast, ripped its heart out, stomped on it on the ground and threw it out like a used paper towel. The 33 first-half points by LSU were the most in the opening 30 minutes against a Nick Saban-coached since 1999, when Purdue — led by quarterback Drew Brees — dropped Saban’s Michigan State squad 52-28. Burrow and passing game coordinator Joe Brady have transformed LSU’s offense from the punchline of a very bad college football joke into the most prolific offense in the country. That’s not what sets this team apart, though. The Tigers defense — which hasn’t been great all year — rattled quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, confused coordinator Steve Sarkisian and created havoc in the backfield thanks to creative pressure dialed up by defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. K’Lavon Chaisson was the star of the show, including a thunderous third-and-short stop of Najee Harris on the Crimson Tide’s first drive of the second half.
Burrow made a clear statement … The senior signal-caller for the Tigers entered as the front-runner for the most prestigious individual award in sports and left the field with a grip on the stiff-arm trophy as tight as a bite from Mike the Tiger. Burrow stood tall in the face of enormous pressure and delivered strike after strike in tight windows all game long. He opened the game 9 of 9 and hit Ja’Marr Chase for the first score of the game in the blink of an eye. LSU never looked back. Burrow brought the fight to Bama and forced it to counterpunch. The only person who has done that in the last two years is Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence … and we all remember how that worked out. That’s the company Burrow keeps now. He’s no longer the scrappy graduate transfer who changed a program; he’s a transcendent college football legend with more in the tank.” https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/alabama-vs-lsu-score-takeaways-no-2-tigers-conquer-no-3-tide-in-thriller-first-series-win-since-2011/
In closing, I don’t know abut you, but I’m rooting for LSU.
Faith, family & football: these are the three key elements in the life of Brian Dawkins, arguably one of the best players to don a Philadelphia Eagles uniform in the modern era. Dawkins is passionate about everything, and everything starts with faith. Faith the noun and faith the verb were Dawkins’ No. 1 traits. He practiced what he preached and he lived what he learned.
Dawkins’ speech at the 2018 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony was one for the ages. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and stop reading right now and watch it. Please. It’s totally worth it. B-Dawk was the first Eagle to reach the Hall since Reggie White, the “Minister of Defense” in 2005, and it was worth the wait. I’ve watched the clip over and over and I’m moved to tears and cry like a baby every time.
Dawkins began his speech by giving praise to God. He shouted “hallelujah” before uttering any other words. It set the tone and paved the way for a stirring, rousing, emotionally moving speech that revealed that there was no shame in Brian Dawkins game. His past, private struggles are now very public, as he detailed how his pain gave birth to his gain. Dawkins faith and his family, especially his wife, were vital to helping him deal with the vicissitudes of his life,
Dawkins was a great football player and he wasn’t great by accident. He was a great player because he is a better person. He urged everyone not to settle, but to push through the pain, because there is purpose in pain. You saw how he played the game; he played with reckless abandon. And that’s how he lives. Dawkins told us that his pain increased his faith exponentially. He said that he went “through” his struggles – he did not stay in them. And he encouraged everyone with these words: “Don’t stay where you are; keep moving and keep pressing through.”
If we didn’t learn anything else from the 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, we learned this; it’s faith that gets us through, it’s family that carries us through, and football, for most of the inductees, as rough and tough as it can be, connected the two together. Brian Dawkins, Randy Moss and Ray Lewis are symbols of the faith we need to have in God, the strength that family gives us, and the joy of being a part of a championship caliber team that endures pain and struggle and secures victories and upsets and comebacks and turnarounds in providential ways.
So take it from Brian Dawkins: push through. There’s s gain on the other side of your pain.
Here’s how ESPN reported his epic come from behind win in the half pipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongyang South Korea:
“The pressure was real. So were the tears — of joy, relief, redemption.
This is why Shaun White keeps going. This is why the snowboarding superstar keeps coming back to the Olympics, a journey that’s seen him evolve from teenage phenom to global brand to living legend. One with a perpetual target on his back and impossible expectations to meet. Standing atop the halfpipe on a gray Wednesday morning at slushy Phoenix Snow Park with his hopes for a third gold down to one final shot, White never wavered.
‘I honestly knew I had it,’ said White, 31.
‘I knew I had to put it down.’ The stakes left him little choice. Rising star and heir apparent Ayumu Hirano had snatched the lead out of White’s hand during the men’s halfpipe final, throwing a spectacular epic second run to vault into the lead and put a portion of White’s Olympic legacy at risk. Not that it mattered.”
He knew. Going into his final run, with the gold medal on the line, Shaun knew what he had to do. And he did it.
And Shaun’s victory gives us hope and heart and help to know that we can do it too. Whatever “it” is for you, you can do it!
TV Shows in the ‘70s were the best. And they had great theme songs. One of my favorites was the opening song for “Welcome Back Kotter.” This was a great, family friendly sit-com (they don’t make ‘em like they used to, right?) starring Gabe Kaplan as a wisecracking high school teacher in charge of a racially and ethnically diverse remedial class called the “Sweathogs.” The show also featured John Travolta in his television debut.
The show is all about redemption. Redemption for Kotter, redemption for his students, and redemption for the viewers as well. Kotter came back to his high school and gave back to the same kids and same place that he somehow succeeded from.
His comeback was a dream come true.
Your dreams are you ticket out. It’s a great song with great truth. Dreams, for the most part, point to the future and forewarn or foretell of impending tragedy or imminent triumph. Biblically, while most dreams are relegated to the OT, the prophet Joel does say that in the last days “old men shall dream dreams.”
Joseph, the son of Jacob, dreamed that his brothers and even his mother and father would bow down to him. And his brothers hated him for it. Because of his dreams, his brothers sold him down the river, and he ended up in Egypt. After being falsey accused he landed in jail. But as Providence would have it, he eventually interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. As a reward for predicting the future, Joseph became second in command in Egypt and was in charge of storing up grain during the good times and distributing grain during the bad times. Meanwhile, back home in Israel, Joseph sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, from, who else — Joseph, and thus Joseph’s dreams became his ticket out.
And your dreams can become your ticket out. So what are you dreaming? What are you believing God for? What do you desire? What do you long for that seems like its light years away?
My Philadelphia Eagles are dreaming of a Super Bowl Win. For the Philly faithful, winning the Super Bowl is more than a dream — it’s like heaven; it’s a real place, somewhere out there, over the rainbow. We know it exists but we just can’t get there right now.
But that can all change this year. With a little Wentz and with a lot of hard work, this can be the Eagles’ year. And it can be your year too. So keep hope alive. And keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.
Right now, Colin Kaepernick is looking down. His prospects of playing again in the NFL are looking down too. And his outlook and the current outcome of his nationally known protest against racial injustice are looking about as good as he is. But there’s always hope, right? I mean, everybody deserves a second chance, right? It’s called redemption. It’s called restoration. It’s called revival.
The truth is, 2nd chances are the foundation of our faith. Getting another shot is the backbone of our belief system. And coming back from the dead is the hallmark of our hope and peace. Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds are on every page of God’s Playbook. And who on earth couldn’t use a little rejuvenation every now and then?
This is from the Undefeated.
“On the day Colin Kaepernick said he still wants to play in the NFL, five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady said the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is qualified to play and he hopes to see him back on the field.
Former New York Daily News reporter and Fair Punishment Project writer-in-residence Shaun King posted a picture of himself with Kaepernick just after 11 a.m. Sunday, and less than 30 minutes later, quote tweeted his post explaining that he had asked the free-agent quarterback whether he wanted to continue playing in the NFL.
Less than an hour later, Brady threw his support behind the Super Bowl quarterback in an exclusive interview with CBS Sunday Morning.
‘I’ve always watched him and admired him. The way that he’s played he was a great young quarterback,’ the New England Patriots quarterback told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. ‘He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player. And he’s certainly qualified, and I hope he gets a shot.’
Kaepernick started a national conversation about the injustices black people and people of color face in America and at the hands of police by sitting and eventually kneeling during the national anthem last season. He also has donated $900,000 of the $1 million he pledged to give to charitable organizations and advocacy groups last October.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March. Two weeks into the NFL season, he has visited with only one team, the Seattle Seahawks in May. The Baltimore Ravens discussed bringing in Kaepernick in July after starter Joe Flacco suffered an injury. Thirty-seven quarterbacks have signed with NFL teams since Kaepernick became a free agent.
Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that some Cincinnati Bengals players would like the team to consider signing Kaepernick. The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in their first two games, and starter Andy Dalton has struggled. A.J. McCarron is Dalton’s backup. The Bengals’ front office has not expressed interest in Kaepernick.
Michael Oher’s story is the subject of the hit 2009 sports film “The Blind Side.” The storyline features Oher, an offensive lineman who played for the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans and currently plays for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. “Blind Side” follows Oher from his impoverished upbringing, through his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, portrayed by Sandra Bullock, to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football, then finally becoming a first-round pick of the Ravens.
And now, Oher has another chance to protect another quarterback’s blindside. And the story of his coming to Carolina and playing in another Super Bowl is as special as his original rags to riches sports saga.
After being cut by the Tennessee Titans, Oher was rehabbing from toe surgery in the offseason when he received a text from Cam Newton. The quarterback has recruited players before, but not this hard. Newton’s brother, Cecil Jr., had played on the practice squad in Baltimore, and he was around Oher every day. They became friends. He knew Oher was talented and professional, and was confident he could protect his brother. Cecil told Cam that Oher would be a key acquisition to the team.
So, as the story goes, Newton texted Oher, and he didn’t just say he wanted him. He said he needed him. When the Panthers signed Oher to a two-year, $7 million deal last March, the move was widely criticized. Oher, 29, appeared to be on the downswing and in a downturn.
But the opposite happened. The unthinkable and un-scriptable happened. Oher got another second chance as he wound up being the only offensive lineman besides center Ryan Kalil to start every game in 2015 for the Panthers, who surrendered just 61 quarterback hits.
Oher said the message from Newton made him feel at home. For the first time in a while, somebody wanted him. He was reunited with offensive line coach John Matsko, his former coach with the Ravens, and quickly bonded with his teammates.
What a story. I mean, really radical redemption comes once for a few of us; for Michael Oher, it came twice. And if you believe in miracles, and I do, then the miraculous that happens on the grassy field is only a fraction of what could and can happen on the glassy field of spiritual life. And that’s why for all of us, repeated, recurring redemption is always readily available.