Brian Dawkins: The Best Eagle Ever

 

 

brian_dawkins_football_hall_of_fame_speech
Brian Dawkins 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Speech

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.

 

Shaun White Is Gold!

  Shaun-White Wins Gold

Shaun White did it!

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!

Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Out

Kotter_Gabe Kaplan

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.

Welcome Back Kotter Group Pic

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.

And may all of your dreams come true.

Colin Kaepernick Deserves A Second Chance

Colin-Kaepernick-Sad-Face

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.

Last month, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it would be ignorant to believe Kaepernick is being held out of the league for anything other than his national anthem protest.” By Rhiannon Walker @InstantRHIplay; https://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-says-hes-ready-to-play-tom-brady-hopes-he-gets-a-shot/

Amen Brother.

So whadaya say? Let’s start a national campaign to get Kaepernick back in the saddle. Because in sports and it life, everybody deserves a 2nd chance.

Repeated, Recurring Redemption – Cam Newton and Michael Oher in Super Bowl 50: “Another” Second Chance

Cam and Michael Oher

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.

Win Win

 

Win Win

I love sports movies. We all do, right? I mean, in a sports film, you have gripping drama, lighthearted humor, and sometimes there’s a love interest to boot. Sports and film go hand in hand because in most, redemption rings and rolls and rises throughout and the hero or heroine almost always comes out a winner, or is a winner of sorts, in the end. And so I’m proud to be an amateur sports film critic. I’ll let you know when I go pro. 

I’ve seen lots of sports films, but not all of them. There’s a boatload of sports movies out there, and I try to stick to the good ones and stay away from the bad ones. Well, I’m happy to report that I just stumbled across another little gem of a sports flic called “Win Win,” starring Paul Giamatti.

In “Win Win,” on the verge of bankruptcy, a struggling lawyer who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach skims money from the estate of an elderly client, but when the client’s teenage grandson, a gifted wrestler, comes to town, his chicanery comes back to haunt him as the teen comes into his life.

“Win Win” is solidly redemptive. It’s a film that purports this proverb: “Life is full of rules, now meet the exceptions.” It’s a story of redemption and reconciliation and restoration all rolled up into one funny, fanciful, feature that is all at once crass and complex, cute and caring and convicting and convincing. Yes it has language, but it also gives you a lift, and who doesn’t need a lift every now and again!

In sports films, you not only get a stellar story, but you sometimes stumble across actors that put in prize performances as well. Take Paul Giamatti. In “Win Win,” Giamatti  gives us a steady, footstompin, feel good finish which was surprisingly unworthy of note by other critics. In another role, he was the boxing manager for James Braddock, played by Russell Crowe, in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” His portrayal of a slick, sly deal maker was outstanding. Giamatti was rewarded for his solid performance with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (an Oscar he should have won).

Not only is Giamatti an actor, but his dad, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was a college president. Of Yale. YALE! And if that wasn’t enough, Dad Giamatti was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The Commissioner of MLB! If that’s not sports pedigree, I don’t know what is. And to top it all off, I just learned that Paul and I share a birthday – June 6. He’s surprisingly younger than me, but I’m proud to share my birthday with this sports and acting icon.

http://www.fandango.com/movie-trailer/winwin-trailer/140586

So if you have nothing else to do, or you’re snowbound somewhere along the East Coast the weekend of January 22nd during this the blizzard of 2016, check out Win Win. You’ll be glad you did.

Remember the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog?

1968-Sears-Wish-Book-final

Who remembers the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog? The Sears Christmas Wish Book was and is a holiday tradition. The very first Sears Wish Book came out in 1933. Featured items in this first catalog included the “Miss Pigtails” doll, an electric (battery powered) toy automobile, a Mickey Mouse watch, fruitcakes, Lionel electric trains, a five pound box of chocolates, and live singing canaries.

I loved the Sears Wish Book! Growing up, my sisters and I would literally fight each other over who got to see the catalog first, because we got to pick which toys we wanted from this annual registry of toys and trinkets and trifles. This was all to the chagrin of my parents, who outwardly groaned and moaned; but inwardly, I’m sure that way, deep, down, they loved to buy toys for their children, because they loved to see us glow and giggle after they gave us what we wanted. But that was then. This is now.

Now, we’ve matured and realize that we don’t always get what we want. But what I want is what most – if not all – of what Philly wants, and that’s Chip Kelly out of town. He needs to be flayed and then fired, sacked and then canned, discharged and unilaterally dismissed. He’s caput in Philly; the only problem is, he doesn’t know it, at least not yet.

So it’s official: Chip Kelly has GOT to go. Go where, you say? Anywhere but in South Philly. His team is disappointing and disconcerting, depressing and distressing, and if there is one coach in the NFL who needs to take a hike, it’s Chip Kelly.

And for Christmas this year, I wish that all Philly fans everywhere will sign my petition to have Kelly kicked to the curb and ditched to the dump. So why am I so steamed and so reamed and so stumped and so stymied? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Kelly’s system IS NOT working. Case in point, in last night’s awful, dreadful and dismal display of a game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles were down just 17-10 but yet they were driving down the field, within reach of a tying touchdown. Then the inexplicable happened.

DeMarco Murray is an All Pro running back and was last year’s League leading rusher. Kelly traded Shady McCoy and then brought in Murray from Dallas to run up the gut and gain critical first downs on short yardage plays in critical 3rd down, or dare I say 4th and inches situations. Murray was on the BENCH, err – sidelines in football, when we had a 4th and inches situation in the Red Zone! Seriously!? And the end result? You guessed it – we didn’t get the first down. We turned the ball over on downs and went on to lose 40-17.

So the silver lining may be this: As much as I want Kelly gone, Kelly can redeem himself. He can win the NFC East and give Philly a playoff game and- dare I say, a playoff win? Because Christmas is more about giving than getting. Christmas is all about redemption. Mankind was lost and God sent his Son to buy back and get back the lost souls that he made. Thank God for Christmas.

Sears Wish Book

I’m sure many tiny tots everywhere still look forward to fawning over the Sears Wish Book. It was fun then and I’m sure it’s still fun now. Because Christmas is all about the joy of giving what is really needed, and getting what is really wanted.