Bart Starr: Honoring the Sports Veteran On A Memorable Memorial Day

Bart Starr
Bart Starr: 1934 – 2019

How sad and yet how fitting is it that Bart Starr, the sports veteran many never knew, but we all knew of, passed away on Memorial Day. His fame stretched far and his fans spread wide. And his fans, both in and outside of Green Bay, loved him.

“They loved him because as a quarterback he led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships. They loved him because he represented everything that was special about the team in the NFL’s smallest market. And they even loved him after his nine-year tenure as the team’s head coach that resulted in only one playoff appearance. And most of all, they loved him because he embodied the competitive spirit that was his coach, Vince Lombardi, during the glory years of the 1960s.”

Here’s a very nice tribute to the legend from Sports Illustrated:

“Legendary Packers quarterback Bart Starr is among the most celebrated quarterbacks in NFL history. He won Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II in his 16-year career under center in Green Bay. However, Starr’s tenure as the Packers’ head coach was less celebrated with a 52–76–3 record over nine seasons.

Starr took the criticism of his coaching in stride, according to a letter obtained by The MMQB’s Andrew Brandt on Tuesday following Starr’s death at the age of 85. The Green Bay legend penned a response to Dan Clumper of Eau Claire, Wisc. in 1976 and even thanked Clumper for his notes on the state of the franchise.

‘We are sorry to lose you as a fan of course, but what is sadder is the example you are setting for your own sons,’ Starr wrote. ‘I hope, while you are re-directing their young minds in the future, you will include tolerance so that when you occasionally err or unintentionally disappoint them, they will not lose their faith in you. May your sons always excel and enjoy the numerous rewards of athletic competition.'” https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/05/28/bart-starr-letter-green-bay-packers-coach-disgruntled-fan

Rest in peace, Bart Starr.

Note From Tua Tagovailoa: “Wait Your Turn”

Tua

Did you see the game? Don’t tell me you went to bed at halftime!  What? You didn’t know the College Football Playoff National Championship game went to overtime?  Seriously?  Yes — I know the game went to well past midnight (East coast time) and I know that Georgia looked like they had Alabama whooped, leading 13-0 at intermission, and I know you get up at zero dark thirty to get to work. I do too. Trust me, I paid for staying up way past my bedtime; but believe you me, it was worth it.

I’ll almost forgive you if you tuned out and turned the TV off at halftime. I’ll try to forgive you if you didn’t want to watch Alabama and Saban win AGAIN. And I’ll definitely forgive you if you didn’t know about the Alabama second string backup quarterback from Hawaii. All he did was start the second half and end up winning the whole dag gum game in OT in dramatic, unforgettable, and for Georgia fans, unforgivable fashion. I’ll give you that one, because before 10 pm on Monday night, there probably were more than a few Alabama players that couldn’t even pronounce this kid’s name.

Just who is Tua Tagovailoa?  Good question.  In 2015, Sports Illustrated told the story of Tagovailoa, who was considered to be the best high school football player in Hawaii. At the time, the junior quarterback at Honolulu’s Saint Louis High School was drawing comparisons to the school’s most famous alum, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.  And not coincidently enough, Tua has this in common with his hero, Marcus Mariota: they are Christians whose goal is “to go out and show the world that Christ lives.” http://christiannewsjournal.com/throwin-prayin-samoans/

Tagovailoa is now the true freshman from Hawaii who everyone is talking about. Talk about a David coming off of the bench to slay a Goliath. One sports writer said that “sometimes, it pays to wait and watch, biding your time until you can show the world just what you can do” Amen. And the hymn writer gave us this gem:

 Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in his love.

“For Tua Tagovailoa, his chance came on college football’s biggest stage, when Alabama Coach Nick Saban decided at halftime to replace quarterback Jalen Hurts with his freshman from Hawaii, a guy who had been offered a scholarship only after Jake Fromm flipped his commitment to Georgia.

“It was a wild ride from there, with Tagovailoa completing one of the best game-winning passes in college football since Doug Flutie in 1984 as the Crimson Tide won in overtime. But the glory of that 41-yard touchdown pass came after an ugly moment in which he took a sack. “Tua probably couldn’t have thrown that pass if I could have gotten ahold of him after the sack,” Saban said afterward, “but I couldn’t get out there fast enough.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/01/09/who-is-alabamas-tua-tagovailoa-and-why-wasnt-he-playing-all-season/?utm_term=.278650168bee

Yes, let’s not forget about Nick Saban, probably the best college football coach, ever. EVER!  Nick Saban most certainly deserves credit for changing quarterbacks, and he also deserves credit for how both players handled themselves.  Sometimes things work out better than our wildest dreams, just because we went with our gut (Saban), waited our turn (Tua) and maybe even handled adversity with grace (Hurts).

Tagovailoa had played only sparingly as a freshman, but Saban turned to him with the Tide down 13-0 at halftime and he threw two touchdown passes, along with an interception. He completed 14-of-26 passes for 166 yards and left everyone wondering why Saban hadn’t turned to him before. I’ll tell you why. Because his time had not yet come.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia

So the lesson from the Polynesian lad from Hawaii is this: be patient. Wait your turn. Don’t get a big head and don’t get down on yourself.  Things will work out, just you wait and see.

Baker Mayfield Eats A Face Full of Humble Pie

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield is who he is, and he just learned a long overdue lesson in humility.

In fact, all athletes and sportspersons everywhere the world over got another lesson in humility and sportsmanship and modesty and gamesmanship courtesy of Baker Mayfield. The Heisman Trophy winner and the Oklahoma Sooners suffered a humbling, if not humiliating, loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first semifinal college championship game at the Rose Bowl last night.

Baker Mayfield was supposed to win. Oklahoma was supposed to come out on top and beat and best Georgia just because.   Mayfield got out to a hot start, but succumbed to Georgia at the bitter end of a classic, come from behind thriller for the “Dawgs”, 54-48 in Double Overtime.

Baker Mayfield is a brash and brazen, braggadocios boy who has a lot of growing up to do. His antics and outbursts all season have earned him a well-deserved reputation and at one point lost him his captainship and almost his career. Earlier this year, he was arrested on a public intoxication and fleeing the scene charge and ordered to undergo 35 hours of community service. And there were other incidents which may have cost other players their scholarships, or more. And during last night’s game, after every early score, Mayfield would run full steam from the end zone with his arms outstretched as if he was soaring above and beyond Georgia’s reach. But not so fast.

Here’s how Sports Illustrated described his behavior: “Mayfield has been known for the emotion he displays during games but avoided controversy during his college finale. When asked about an apparent throat-slashing gesture after the game, he said it wasn’t directed at the Bulldogs. ‘When you get up on a team, you talk about stepping on their throats,’ he said. ‘Obviously, we didn’t do that.’

 As Oklahoma’s frenetic star wandered back onto the playing field to congratulate celebrating Bulldog players, Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy began screaming at him.

HUMBLE YOURSELF! HUMBLE YOURSELF!

Bellamy stood near the spot on the field where the Heisman Trophy winner had aimed his wild, arms-flailing sprints back to the bench after each Oklahoma touchdown earlier in the day, when the Sooners scored on five of their first six possessions and looked like they were about to blow the Bulldogs out of the Rose Bowl. Instead, Georgia outscored Oklahoma 37–17 after halftime.” https://www.si.com/college-football/2018/01/02/baker-mayfield-oklahoma-georgia-rose-bowl-nflIt was a great game but also a sad commentary on how not to lose. Baker Mayfield couldn’t finish and seal the deal against a Georgia team that didn’t know the word quit. Down 17 just before the half, Oklahoma inexpiably squib kicked after a field goal and allowed Georgia to run one play to get into position for a long field goal. And they made it, cutting the lead to 14.  Then and there,  I said Oklahoma was going to lose and Georgia was going win. Why? Because of Oklahoma’s arrogance. They  thought they were too far ahead for Georgia to catch up and assumed that Mayfield would continue to throw touchdown pass after touchdown pass the entire second half. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The lesson Baker Mayfield hopefully learns is that pride still goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. So let’s let this be a lesson and let’s do what Mayfield didn’t.

Humble yourself.

Hooray For Houston!

 Houston Astros Sports_Illustrated 2017

The Houston Astros just won their first ever World Series, the first and only in the 56 year history of the team. Good for them. They made it through a topsy, turvy seven game series with the LA Dodgers, and came out on top.  And the City of Houston made it through Hurricane Harvey, and it coming out on top of that tough time too. The Astros have many ties to Puerto Rico as well, beginning with Correa and Beltran, and World Series MVP George Springer is half Puerto Rican. So the Astros won not only Houston, but for Puerto Rico,  which was devastated by another powerful Hurricane, Irma. 

I’m not a Houston fan, but I’m glad for them. So I’m not going to hate. Yes I was rooting for the Dodgers, but the Astros won it fair and square.  And they won it for the City of Houston, and that’s pretty special. AND Sports Illustrated called it (albeit 3 years ago, but they called it! How about that!

Never mind Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish got chased out of) his second horrific World Series outing. Never mind Darvish shouldn’t even have been in the game (because of his poor previous play), much less start the Seventh Game of the World Series!  Never mind the game was lost in the dugout by the Dodgers Skipper, Dave Roberts who started Darvish. And never mind the Dodgers still had chance after chance to get back into the game, even after digging a five run hole for themselves. In the bottom of the second, they had the bases loaded with their hottest hitter, Joc Pederson, at the plate, but came up empty and left all three base runners stranded. Oh well.

So Houston won the World Series. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there’s bad sports news coming out of Houston as well. Houston fans had to go from World Series celebration to losing their star QB, Deshaun Watson because of a torn ACL in practice. Michael Wilbon said “the feel good” from the Astros’ World Series title didn’t last as long as it should have because of Watson’s injury.

In sports and in life, we rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep, and mourn with them that mourn.

Which Way Are You Trending?

Wentz_1200_si

We have heard this and we have seen this sit-com before; “The Eagles are for real!” The Eagles are for real.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. But this time we mean it, right?

My Eagles have a penchant for “being for real” at the begging of the season. In fact, last year this time, we were all screaming, “the Eagles are for real” when they began the season 3-0. But they ended the season 7-9, Doug Pederson’s first year in Philly as head coach. And the year before that, we began the season with high hopes, but also finished a disappointing 7-9. And thankfully, that was Chip Kelly’s last season in Philly (I MEANT that thankfully thing).

The Eagles tend to start hot and end cold. They tend to fly high and then land hard. They tend to raise expectations to heaven and then dash hopes to smithereens. But this year is different, right?

All of Philly is hyped, amped, excited, and overjoyed. Why? Because the Eagles are 5-1 and looking good doing it.  Yes, you gotta believe that my Eagles Are For Real! This time.

Carson Wentz and the Eagle “D” stood up to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 28-23 in Carolina, and they looked good doing it (for the most part). Except for too many penalties (do I hear the conspiracy theorists crying foul) and a few missed reads by Wentz, the Eagles looked great on both sides of the ball.

So all of Philly is hoping and praying that this year is different. Because you tend to follow your tendencies, right?

What about you? What are your trends and tendencies? What are your propensities and predispositions? Are they good or not so good? Either way, let’s all work or how we trend. Let’s work on which way we lean. You want to trend up, not down. You want to trend the right way, not the wrong way. You want to continue to progress, and not regress.

So, we all have work do. Let’s all work on finishing, and not just starting.

Escape From New York: Carmelo Is A Knick No Longer

Carmello Anthony Running and All Smiles
NEW YORK, NY –  Carmelo Anthony, #7 of the New York Knicks, is all smiles as he’s running out of  Madison Square Garden in NYC and is on his way to play for the Thunder in OKC.
Carmelo Kyam Anthony is smiling now. He’s smiling because he’s running out of and running out on New York. That’s right, Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick no longer.  Too bad, so sad (for New York Knicks fans, that is). And the really sad part is that he seemed like he never really wanted to be there in the first place. Talk about continuous compunction.   

So let’s get it out there right up front: this has been one of the messier and muddier sports separations in recent memory. Discord, disharmony, and dissonance all led to distrust and the destruction of a viable team playing at MSG, and you could see it a mile away.

The spiritual lesson is eternally, powerfully poignant: always and forever, where there is unity, there is strength. But since there was only disunity and dysfunction in New York, it had to end in disaster, at least for the Knicks. And since one teams’s trash is another teams treasure, it appears that the OKC Thunder are now even more primed to go toe to toe with Golden State for the Western Conference Title.

So much for the color commentary; here’s the play by play:

Anthony, 33, is a ten-time All-Star, but the Knicks are prioritizing a full rebuild centered around Kritaps Porzingis after a tumultuous last few seasons. The team fired Phil Jackson as general manager and replaced him with Scott Perry in July. (And just who is Scott Perry?)  Anyway, New York went 31-51 last season and has not made the playoffs since 2012-13.

In Oklahoma City, Carmelo joins a team that acquired Paul George in the offseason, and reports say George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook played an “immense part” in convincing Anthony to waive his no-trade clause.

Even after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors in free agency last summer, Oklahoma City went on to win 47 games and make the playoffs.  If the Thunder are able to keep their new stars, they could set themselves up for many more  seasons of sustained success.

Anthony leaves the Knicks with uneven results. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure, including a 54-28 record and Eastern Conference semifinals appearance in 2012-13. But New York never reached the conference finals and had four coaches and one interim coach in Anthony’s seven seasons with the team.

The Knicks have had four consecutive losing seasons – three of them under Phil Jackson’s unproductive run as president. Jackson alienated Anthony as the team tried to go into rebuild mode. Though Anthony may have enjoyed living and playing in New York, he also realized his time with the Knicks was over.

http://www.msn.com/en-ph/sports/basketball/what-does-carmelo-trade-mean-for-knicks-thunder/ar-AAsokPu?li=AA4RHM 

https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-rumors-knicks-oklahoma-city-thunder

So let’s learn the lesson again; in sports and in life, where there is unity there is strength. And when there’s not . . .

Are the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Bound?

wentz-3

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but . .  . Philadelphia has just been dubbed “Carson City!” 

It wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not like this. The Pittsburgh Steelers are stingy on defense and stagy on offense and they are (or were?) supposed to be somebody’s pre-season pick to go to, if not WIN, the Super Bowl. But not so fast. “Big Ben” Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin, both wily veterans, were supposed to handle the upstart Eagles, handily.

Enter rookie quarterback CARSON WENTZ! The Eagles, I mean MY Eagles, beat up and beat down the before the game solid, but after the game squalid Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3, and it wasn’t that close. So now who’s a favorite to go to the Super Bowl?

“Magical,” he said. “Seriously. It’s like magic.  This is what Philly’s staid offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, had to say when he was reaching for the right word after Sunday’s game. 

“I’ve been around a lot of smart quarterbacks, a lot of really good quarterbacks. This guy had something we all noticed. On the practice field, just watching him warm up and get ready, I was giddy. His movements, his explosiveness in his lower body. His arm strength. His accuracy. Then in the classroom, his intellect and his football acumen—hard to describe. But all there. He could not be stumped, by any of us. What’s your protection here? Why’d you pick this receiver? What do you like about this play? He was so far ahead of guys I’ve studied.

And we kept hearing about the level of competition, that people were worried about the North Dakota State part of it. I said, ‘Let ’em keep saying that! Please keep saying that.’ ”

“I am literally in tears with how good he is. I’ve been an Eagles fan for 24 years, my whole life. I bought this jersey three weeks ago. When we drafted him I thought he was the change of the franchise” said 24-year-old Kyle Frazier. And Vince Fabrizio, 54, said: “He will take us to a Super Bowl as some point.”

Like, now? This has been an absurd ride so far. Wentz and the Eagles 34, Big Ben and the Steelers 3. The guy who was supposed to redshirt this season, the guy who wouldn’t be playing right now if Teddy Bridgewater hadn’t suffered a freak injury last month, 1,170 miles away, the guy who has every downtrodden fan in Cleveland vomiting (again) this morning because the Browns gave away the chance to draft him … that guy is 3-0, with the wins coming by 19, 15 and 31 points, and just when is construction beginning on that statue? (Mike Wise, MMQB http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/09/26/carson-wentz-eagles-nfl-week-3-monday-morning-qb-peter-king)

So, do you need Biblical reference to go along with this modern day sports miracle in the making?  Try this one on for size:

God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, New Living Translation

 And while some have an aversion if it’s not their favorite version,  I must do a recursion to the old fashioned, but tried and true KJV, which may say it best:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:27, KJV