Good On Paper

Carson Wentz after Seattle Loss
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Philly fans said that Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper.

 This blog was originally entitled, “Don’t Give Up On Your Team, Vol. II, a.k.a., ‘What’s With Wentz?’  Instead, “Good On Paper” says it all.

At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper. They had speed at the wide receiver position in DeSean Jackson, they had depth on defense, and — ahem — presumably they had a healthy Carson Wentz, our franchise quarterback, ready to return to his vintage form. But that was then, And THAT was on paper.

Carson Wentz had arguably his worst game as a professional yesterday as the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-9.  Wentz committed five, count’ em, FIVE turnovers, and lost four, with two interceptions and two fumbles.  Two words immediately come to mind: unbelievable and unacceptable.

Dude.  Brother.  Homie. I mean really? Seriously? C’mon Man! Man up, settle down, bring her in and get the lead out.  Wentz, you are better than this. But you’re not showing it. And the Philly Faithful is holding out hope that you will return to the MVP form you had at the beginning of the 2017 Super Bowl Season. Did I mention the Super Bowl LII win? Surely I digress, Yes, Philly fans are still holding on and holding out for a repeat performance from our wonderful Wentz of a quarterback. But Man! Is this guy making it hard or what?

For the Philadelphia Eagles, to say that this season has not gone according to plan is putting it mildly.  The Eagles are a paltry and pitiful 5-6, and there are at least two games that we’ve, I mean THEY, have lost early on in the season that should have gone the other way.

But some say that there’s still hope. Some say that the Eagles still have a chance (a fat one?) at winning the Division, the NFC East. The Eagles have a light schedule against pancake teams the rest of the way, such as Miami, the Giants TWICE and the Redskins. But there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Based on Carson’s play yesterday, things could absolutely, utterly and totally go from bad to worse. There is no guarantee that these Eagles, or more specifically, Carson Wentz, will right the ship and earnestly and honestly content for a crown, this year or even next.

But we must not lose hope in our team, right? We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we must not jump to conclusions, right? But we also must lift our faith from the pages of the Bible to the table or our hearts. Faith without works is dead. And thus far this season, this Eagles team has given us little faith and less to work with. 

ON PAPER, we should still hold out and hold on to hope: Here’s how heavy.com put the Eagles chances:

“The Eagles’ record stands at 5-6, while the Cowboys dropped to 6-5. It’s a one-game difference with five games to play. The way the Birds have played in recent weeks leaves room for doubt. Maybe their offense can’t score enough points to even win another game. Hold on. Look at their remaining schedule.

Philadelphia has the 12th-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Team Rankings. Their opponents’ records are a combined 18-41 while the Cowboys still face stiff tests against the Bills (8-3), Rams (6-4) and Bears (5-6).

(On paper,) the Eagles should reel off three straight wins starting this week in Miami, with a showdown at Lincoln Financial Field versus Dallas on the horizon in Week 16. That game would likely decide the NFC East. As bad as Philadelphia has played, (on paper), it’s all in front of them.”

In other words, the Eagles have a chance of making the playoffs, as their chances of winning the Division are good, but they’re only good on paper.

Good on paper. For more than a few folks, everything adds up, on paper.  It’s sad to say, but most of the majority of mankind (in the West, at least) may well have it all together, on paper. That’s what some people are like. They appear good and they show well. They have a good job, they drive a nice car and they live in a big house in a nice neighborhood. They may even go to church, but that’s all on paper.  

Truth be told, some Christians look good, but just on paper. They do the right things, use the right words, and give the right answers. They look nice and shiny on the outside. They go to church every week; they may even sing on the choir or play on the keyboard or even unlock and lock the church doors. They may serve as an usher or a deacon or a Sunday school teacher. They may even preach in the pulpit. But that’s all on paper.

Real people are more than the sum of their parts on paper. How do they actually live? What’s actually in their heart? And why do they do what they do? What is their motivation and inspiration for life?  Do these “good on paper” people actually believe that Jesus Christ is the center and focus of our life of faith?

Alright enough; enough about those “good on paper” patsies. How about you? Does Christ  dictate what you do and what you say? Are you authentically altruistic, genuinely genial and wholeheartedly wholesome?

This Christmas, let’s do better than be good on paper.

Let’s be true for real.  

Win then Lose then Win Again

Gronkowski

 “Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns.” 

Sometimes you have to win twice just to win once. Sometimes you think you have it all together and it’s all wrapped up only to realize there’s a hole in the bag; but then you catch the cavity and plug the gap just in time to save the day.

Sometimes, when it seems like you don’t have a payer, a prayer is all you need.

Sometimes you win and then you seem to lose it; and then, lo and behold, you win after all. And that’s just what happened to the World Champion New England Patriots. Everybody knows that Rob Gronkowski is Tom Brady’s “go to” guy.  Brady has been throwing to No. 87, Rob Gronkowski, just for something to do, and the pair has been winning with regularity since he came into the league in 2010.  And the couple did it again today against Pittsburg.

With 1 minute left on the clock, the Pats prized tight end caught an almost uncatchable ball inches off of the ground to pave the way for another incredible, improbable but you knew it was coming, come from behind Division clinching win IN Pittsburg at Heinz field.

Then, Big Ben got the Steelers to the ten yard line in the blink of an eye. Then Roethlisberger threw a pass over the middle to Jessie James and the home team seemingly scored. The Steelers had come back with less than a minute left to beat Brady at his own game. But not so fast.

Sometimes, like it or not, the game is won and lost by a decision the referees make. In this case, the zebras reviewed the play and ruled the pass incomplete because the receiver did not maintain possession as he went to the ground AFTER he crossed the goal line.  Unbelievable. The game ended when Big Ben threw an ill-advised pass across the middle that was intercepted in the endzone. Absolutely unbelievable.

New England won, then seemingly lost, and then won again. Again. The same thing  happened in two — count ‘em, TWO — Super Bowls; last year against the Falcons and three years ago against the Seahawks. The five time World Champions have a knack for winning games twice. You would think you should only have to win once. But such is life.  

And so the moral of the story is this: sometimes you have to win twice just to win once. Even though it looks like it’s over, it’s not over. Keep fighting until victory is won.

A Good Loss and A Bad Win

 Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles defeated the LA Rams 43-35. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we lost our MVP-Candidate quarterback, Carson Wentz to a torn ACL injury.  That’s a win that’s almost not worth it. We won the NFC East but we lost our star QB.

A bad win is a win won when it is not valued or treasured. It is a win won without appreciation or full comprehension of the cost of victory. A bad win is when you win without recognizing with gratitude that it could have gone the other way.

A good loss is a loss that teaches meanings and morals and mottos and maxims. No one wants to lose, but there are times when a loss is just what the doctor ordered. We must realize that in sports and in life, all is not lost when a loss is redemptive and reformative. In actuality, after a positive loss, there can be much gain. This is the balance of life.

So take it from me and my Philly teams.  Last week the Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks and the Sixers lost to the LA Lakers and they were not good losses.  Both teams were listless and lethargic lacked the energy and effort needed to pull off a win. The Eagles never got off of the ground, and yet they were “in it” until the end. And the Sixers were behind by 16 at home but yet still tied the game with less than a minute to go. Both could have pulled it out and stole the game but lacked the leadership that was necessary to turn the tide and pull off come from behind wins worthy of mention. 

So let’s take careful stock of our wins, and let’s not bemoan all of our losses.  In fact, let’s be thankful for our wins and our losses. There is nothing to be gained from a bad win, and much to be learned from a good loss.

Save Your Best For Last

College_Football_Playoff_logo.svg

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was turned to wine, not knowing where it had come from, he said, ‘A host always serves the best wine first; then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!’

John 2:9-10, New Living Translation 

The best teams play their best ball during the best time of the season. And that’s December. I love December football. Every football fan loves football in December because it’s cold, games are contentious and, err, it’s cold.  It’s football weather, and December is the month when the big boys beat down the little guys to within an inch of their playoff lives. And December is the time when the best teams face off and stare down and square up against each other until only one is left standing.

We’ll find out who will be in the college football championship tonight. Alabama is outside looking in at number five, and they will have to watch Georgia and Auburn duke it out before they find out if they can make it in. Clemson is currently holding onto the number one spot and they can solidify their position with a convincing win over Miami.

As for my Eagles, they play Seattle tomorrow night in Seattle and that should be another good test to prove to all the naysayers that Philly is for real.

So save your best for last. Keep something in the tank for the stretch run when you need to out kick and out last and out best your competitors. And that includes your best buddy and your brother-in-law who would love to topple you just for something to do.

The lesson is clear; play to the whistle. Clearly we are living in the last days. Evil doers are calling right wrong and wrong right. Workers of iniquity are calling evil good and good evil; seducers are calling up down and down up.  Those who disdain God are calling right left and left right. Sin has run rampant and the enemy of our souls is out to destroy us, as he knows his time is short.

So don let up and don’t let down. Keep a goody bag and a spare tire and extra reserves for use as you approach the wire because our enemies and our foes are trying harder and harder to overcome righteousness and goodness and are going after you even harder as the sands of time wind down to the begining of eternity. 

Why does a gymnast put her most impressive skill at the end of the routine? Why do fireworks designers put the big burst at the end? Why is the fourth movement of the symphony the most powerful one? Why do stand-up comics like to end with their strongest material? Why does the climax come at the end of the movie instead of the beginning? Why do we eat dessert last? Why do we save the last dance for our best beau?

God saves His best for last, and we should too.

Colin Kaepernick and Race and Racism In Sports

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins

The Bible says this about “race:”

 And (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth . . .

Acts 17:26 KJV

We all bleed red. We all have red blood cells and white blood cells. And we all have a heart, but not all have “heart.” That’s the problem. We judge and prejudge based on the outward appearance, not on the inward quality. And that’s tragic. 

There is no African blood or Anglo-Saxon blood or Hispanic blood or Asian blood. God made us all of one blood.  That’s why the Civil Rights movement was so powerful.  White men marched with black men in the fight for racial right. And we’re still fighting.  Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said this in his famous March on Washington speech in 1963:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The NFL has turned its back on Colin Kaepernick. Once one of the starting QB’s in the Super Bowl, Kaepernick is now out of a job and out of the NFL. Many believe it’s because he’s been blacklisted and blackballed by NFL owners because of his silent protest of taking a knee during the national anthem at games in 2016.

“Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says Colin Kaepernick remaining unsigned reflects the state of the NFL.

‘I think the league is built on middle America, and most of middle America is predominantly a white crowd,’ Bennett said Wednesday. ‘That’s just the truth of it. I think race is not something that the NFL wants to be a part of or get behind. But the league is predominantly African-American.

So the issue that he’s dealing with is what we’re all dealing with. We all come from the inner city or we’ve been a part of communities where we felt like we’ve been judged because of the color of our skin . . .

Obviously, there’s the elephant in the room why Kaepernick isn’t signed, and most people know why.’ Bennett said. ‘I’ve said this several times, and I’m not afraid to say it: I think race and politics in sports is something people don’t want to hear about, nor do people want to be a part of.’ “

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/19643996/michael-bennett-seattle-seahawks-says-lack-colin-kaepernick-deal-demonstrates-league-racial-divide

And so the answer is really simple. Sports, the great unifier, is played by players of one blood.  The reason why we can’t separate sports and politics is because some cannot separate sports from racism, and bigotry and bias and discrimination, as Colin Kaepernick has come to learn, the hard way. And that’s too bad.  Like it or not, sports has long been used as a political weapon, and still is.

We have mislabeled each other. In turn, we’ve misjudged and mistaken our outward appearance for our inner identity. Black and white are not colors, but values. Yet, black is used to “color” the African race. Black is associated with darkness, depression and death. White, on the other hand, is associated with light and luminosity and life. And we have labeled each other, and we treat each other, likewise.  And that’s a shame.  

My friend’s daughter said it best:

One day her little kindergartener came home from school crying and emotionally distraught. “It’s been a really bad day.” she cried. “It’s been a really, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad day!”  “Why?” her mother asked. With sobbing tears and shirking shoulders the little one went to her toy box and got her crayons, and then dumped them all on the floor. She searched for one in particular and pointed it defiantly at her mother. “They said I’m black!” She wailed. “THIS is black, and I’m not black! I’m brown!”

 

Out of the mouths of babes.

How To Get Out Of A Slump: Meet The Right People In The Right Place At the Right Time

Seattle 2015 461

I just got out a slump. And so did the Mets; Yes the Mets; the Amazin’ Miracle Mets. But first me. Sometimes you limp and lag and teeter and totter and flip and flop along and you don’t even know that you’re not moving in a logical procession or making any meaningful progression. That was me. But that’s over. Thank God.

Sometimes you just don’t know what to do or when to do or how to do what you know you need to do to get out of a rut. Sometimes you’re in a rift or a ravine or a gully or a gorge or a ditch or a drain that’s leading to nowhere. You know you need to reboot and recharge and re-image and rethink everything. And you know it but you can’t quite seem to do anything about it.   That is unless and until you happen upon or meet by chance or run into the right people in the right place at the right time. Well, all of that happened for me in Seattle.

Seattle got me out of my slump. And more specifically, I’m out of my slump because I met a great guy and his wife, Chris and Cindy. They were hidden away in an out –of- the way restaurant on Bainbridge Island and they gave me the gumption I need to go on just a little further. Yes I go to church and pray and read my Bible, but there’s something about meeting someone “out of the blue” that charges your battery and revs your engine like nothing else can. There’s something about a coming together at just the right time that is almost indescribable and indiscernible but is real and palpable nonetheless.

So here’s another reason to believe in Providence. It all went down like this:

Seattle 2015 481

I really wanted to take a ferry ride across Puget Sound and I wanted to go on a nice, sunny day. Well, Monday, April 20th was my day. It was a beautiful, balmy 72 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. And for all that know Seattle, weather like that doesn’t come around every day. So I caught the 4:40 Ferry and had a therapeutic trip and a resuscitating ride with views of Downtown Seattle and the Olympus and Cascades Mountains to die for.

Seattle 2015 492

I got to Bainbridge Island and determined to eat dinner at a local diner, so I asked around. I was told there were plenty of nice places to choose from. Then I “happened” run into an older lady who told me to “hurry up!” She thought I was going to the museum, but I told her I was looking for a nice, homey restaurant. She gave me a few suggestions, but then said if I wanted to go to an out-of-the way place on the water I should walk a little further and go to Harbor Public House (http://harbourpub.com/ ). I’m so glad I did. I believe God put the right people in the right place at the right time just for me.

Enter my new friends. They were sitting and waiting for a table outside overlooking the water. I chatted it up a little with them and the next thing you know, because they had been waiting awhile, and I wanted to eat outside too, they invited me to dine with them. Wow! It was great. The ferry ride was “Da Bomb,” the food was better and the company of my new friends was the best.  Wow.  Sounds like teamwork played a part in this, huh? 

Talk about a Providential turn of events. And so it is in life and in sports for those who go a little further wait a little longer and reach a little higher than they were reaching just a day or two ago. When you have everything fall into the just the right place at just the right time it is no accident.  It’s Divine. Coincidentally, Deborah Fike in “The Change Blog,” suggests that one of the ways you get out of a slump is to reconnect with old friends or, — find new ones! And that’s what I did! And in writing this blog I found these blogs which were helpful: http://www.thechangeblog.com/get-out-of-a-slump/ http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Out-of-a-Slump

And speaking of Divine, how ‘bout ‘Dem Miracle Mets! (Previous Blog Please 🙂 )

Winning With A Missed Shot

Tom-Brady-sports-illustrated-on-to-immortality

Sometimes you win while you watch. Sometimes you win while you stand on the sidelines and wait. In sports, sometimes you win while a field goal sails wide right or a pass is intercepted in the end zone or a three point attempt clangs off the back of the rim.  Sometimes, after you gave it your best shot, you did nothing but watch to win.  Just ask Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots field general was not on the field but standing on the sidelines, watching as the Seattle Seahawks marched down the field, seemingly on their way to erasing a four point deficit and engraving an enchanted ending onto Super Bowl XLIX. Not so. Instead, Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seahawks, inexplicably called a PASS play at the goal line. It was 2nd and goal at the one yard line. And then the unthinkable happened.  

Sometimes you can just sit back and watch. Brady watched as Russell Wilson threw an interception, not a touchdown reception. Undrafted rookie CB Malcolm Butler, who went to school at West Alabama for crying out loud, jumped the rout and intercepted Wilson’s intended pass to Ricardo Lockette, and the rest is history. Game, set, match – Patriots win.  Game over. And all Brady, the Super Bowl MVP had to do, was watch.

Sometimes, in order to win, all you have to do is watch a missed shot. It may be nail-biting and nerve splitting and we may be anxious and restless, agonizing over the outcome, but watch and wait we must.  

Sometimes, we just need to watch God work and wait with wonderment for a wonderful outcome. That’s it and that’s all. Ask me how I know. I have watched God work before. I have been in some tight spots and survived some tough times and have been over some rough roads and every time, I’ve watched my God come through and win the day for me. I’ve watched as the enemy of my soul took his best shot but missed his mark and I narrowly escaped — with a win.

So watch God. Watch God win with a missed shot by the enemy. It may not be pretty, but it’s still a win. And as the ole saying goes, a win, is a win, is a win.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 

Psalm 124:7-8