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“…at a distance…”

With Good Friday less than 24 hours away, I started reading the 26th chapter of Matthew and its account of that fateful day.  In verse 58, three words hit me square between the eyes – “…at a distance…” 

As athletes, being “…at a distance…” whether mentally, physically or a combination of both will keep us from being sold out and fully engaged “in the game.”  Not only does it have an affect on our play, but on those around us.

The same is true in our walk with Christ.

The first part of verse 58 states, But Peter followed him at a distance…”  How often do we do the same? Christ has called us to “…take up our cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).  Now we can follow him “..at a distance…” but to truly follow, we must make the choice to be beside Him.

That cross isn’t going to carry itself. It cannot be carried from “a distance.” A batter cannot step into the batter’s box and expect to hit when the bat is still in the dugout.

Just as Jesus carried his cross upon his brutally beaten body, we (and I am speaking to me before anyone else) have to go pick up the cross first.  It cannot be done from a distance.

The second part of the verse said that Peter (it’s tough to be used as an example like this for thousands of years, but he made a great comeback!) “sat down with the guards to see the outcome.”

We are just like Peter…sitting down with the “world” to watch “the outcome.” We are believers but won’t proclaim it. We choose not to serve. We will not take the battle to the enemy in diligent prayer, in our own “War Room.”

We stay on the sidelines.

Thankfully, Jesus chose to meet the cross like two prize fighters do – nose to nose. He did not stay in his corner. He walked to the middle of the ring and courageously confronted the opponent – and won.

We can experience that too, but not “…at a distance.”

Buzz Williams – Teaching more than Basketball

It’s not because you are an excellent coach. You are.  (.600 winning percentage in nine seasons as a college coach. Five NCAA tournaments).

It’s not because you are charismatic and likable.

It’s not because of the way you get your Virginia Tech men’s basketball team to consistently play hard.

It’s because what you impressed upon, and demanded from them, regarding our national anthem.  You refused to allow their actions become a habit.

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It’s because you put your job at risk and stepped out where many other college coaches might not have the courage to do so.

It’s because you drew a line in the sand.

It’s because you stood up for the men and women of the United States military that stand in the gap, putting their lives in danger, for us each day. And did so on a college campus. Even on a patriotic one like Virginia Tech, the college landscape is a haven for the politically correct.

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Because you are teaching your players life lessons, and about more than X’s and O’s,  you have my utmost respect and a new fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Role Players: Pete Rose greatest in baseball history? Really?

Last month, I wrote a post on Embracing your Role. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a pair of local Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle groups and a high school baseball team on the topic.

Roles are not just limited to those who come off the bench. Starters have a role to play but most don’t view it in that context. They are just viewed as starters. The best five, nine, or 11 players to begin the game on that specific day.

In researching for my baseball speech, I found the person who, arguably, could be considered as the best role player in baseball history – Pete Rose? Really? The maligned, all-time hits leader?  The shoe-in Hall of Famer, if not for his betting on baseball issues?

I was never a Rose fan growing up so this post is not an attempt to serve as his apologist. I did respect how hard he played the game and the passion he had for it.1964-Topps-Baseball-125-Pete-Rose-214x300

There are not many superstars, then or now, that would have done what Rose did. The former Macon Peaches standout entered the major leagues in 1963 and won Rookie of the Year honors at second base for Cincinnati. 10 years later, Rose captured his only National League MVP Award playing left field for the Reds.

Rose gave of himself for the team. During that decade between honors, he saw action at one position in a single season just four times (1964 and 1965 at 2B; 1972 and 1973 in LF).

The former Macon Peaches standout is the ONLY player in major league baseball history to play 500 or more games at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF), and according to Baseball-Reference.com, a total 18,337 men have played in the Big Leagues. Rose also played nearly 100 games in centerfield.

A 17-time All-Star, in his 24-year career, Rose earned that honor seven times as an outfielder, five at first base, four at third base and one at second base. RosePete

It is clear that no role was to big or to small for Rose. He did what he was asked to do and what he had to do.

Rose embraced the opportunity to play any position, and that attitude helped him become one of the greatest players in Major League baseball history.

 

 

High Five with 2-Time Super Bowl Champion Mike Shanahan

Mike Shanahan coached the Denver Broncos to wins in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII. Only four coaches (Bill Belechick, Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Walsh) in NFL history have won more Super Bowls than Shanahan.  Entering Super Bowl 50, he is one of only 13 coaches to have won the Lomabardi Trophy multiple times.

Shanahan’s name is included with Lombardi, Noll, Walsh, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, and Tom Coughlin to have never lost a Super Bowl as a head coach.

It’s an honor to have my friend, and legendary head coach Mike Shanahan, for the first installment of High Five.mikeshanahansuperbowltrophy

1) How many Super Bowls have you been involved with as a head coach and in other capacities?

“As an assistant coach, I was with Denver for three Super Bowls and we were 0-3. Back in 1995, I was offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers when we won that Super Bowl.  We won two as a head coach with the Broncos.”

2) What is your motto on attending Super Bowls?

“I have been to one Super Bowl that I wasn’t coaching in and it was truly hard because you’re doing a lot of interviews and talk shows but you’re not part of the process. You know all the hype and the work that goes into the Super Bowl. The one time I was there when I wasn’t a participant, I said I’m going to make sure if I go back to the Super Bowl, it’s going to be as a coach.  When you go to the Super Bowl, you want to be playing in it.”

3) If Joe fan could look through your eyes, what are three things they should look for this Sunday they normally wouldn’t notice?

“First, you’re dealing with two excellent ball teams, and I think both will try to establish the run. If you can run the ball, you will then have some good opportunities for play-action calls.

“Second, at least from my perspective, turnovers will go far in dictating the outcome of this game. You have to really stress ball security in the running and passing game.

“Third, looking at the two teams, I really believe in this game it will be the one that is more successful on third down.  You want to have manageable situations on third down. If you are getting positive yardage on first and second down, you probably won’t be more than third and five. That puts you in the 50 percentile chance of converting. That’s when you take a good look at the rushing yardage. The team that does this will control the momentum of the game.

“Those are three things I would be emphasizing.”

4) Other than winning your two championships with the Broncos, what is most significant memory of the Super Bowl?

“For me, besides winning the two at Denver, is winning the first one with San Francisco when we beat San Diego 49-26 and Steve Young passed for six touchdowns.  Steve finally got the monkey taken off his back for winning a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback. It was a great experience for me to be with the San Francisco 49er organization and see how they did things. That gave me the ability to win two Super Bowls in Denver.”

5)  You’ve been part of several championship teams, is there any difference in each or do they hold their own special meaning?

“When I was coaching in college I was lucky enough to be on national championship teams at Oklahoma in 1975 and Easter Illinois in 1977. Anytime you go into the season, you are looking to be the best at what you do in that year. 

“My main thing is what you’ve done, not what you should have done. Anytime you lose a Super Bowl, you always go back and say could we have done anything different? That’s living in the past. You either get it done or you don’t. 

“Whatever area you are in, be it high school, any division in college, you are competing to win it. The ultimate is when you are able to do that. The mindset is to win it, to go get it done. If you are able to do that as a team, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. When you do it once as a team, you want to go back and try to accomplish the same thing. That’s one of the reasons I still enjoy coaching. “

 

Does God care who wins or loses?

Last week, my daughter’s 6-7th grade basketball team from Tattnall Square Academy won its local C-team basketball championship in exciting fashion against long-time rival, Stratford Academy.

The atmosphere was electric! Cheering from both stands gave it the sound and feel of a Friday night varsity game. If you had walked in off the street, you wouldn’t have known the difference.

Both teams represented their schools to the highest standard and each player left their sweat, effort and hearts on the court…as it should be.

When the final horn sounded, Tattnall’s student-body, middle and high schoolers alike, stormed the court surrounding our girls. The celebration continued into the locker room and beyond; a memory always to be treasured.

Afterward, a thought I’ve had many times before returned:  Does God really give a hoot who wins these games?

I know I do.

Every time my daughter and her teammates play, I’m pulling for them just as hard as the parents from the opposing side are pulling for their kids.  If the goal isn’t to win, then why practice?  Why put in all the hard work and long hours?

Philippians 4:13, the famous verse that is directly linked to athletics and has been written on eye-black, shoes, and taped up wrists for decades, states:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This Sunday, Super Bowl 50 will pit the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers. Each team’s sole objective is to win.  But, one team is going to lose.

So, is Philippians 4:13 just meant for the winning team?  Because, I promise you, someone from the winning team will thank God for the victory. There’s nothing wrong with that but what’s the Christian on the losing team saying? “God, you let us down?” “Why did you favor the them and not us?”

The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Paul is doubling-down. Not only can you “do all things through Christ” but one of those goals should be “to get the prize.”  It is clearly encouraged.

Still, that begs my question, which cheering section will the Lord be in on Super Sunday (or any game that is played)?

Neither.

Just as He wasn’t rooting for Tattnall over Stratford, He won’t be dabbing for Cam Newton or yelling “Omaha” in unison with Peyton Manning.

The Lord desires something more important than top billing on the scoreboard or a trophy that will ultimately gather dust.

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..” Colossians 3:23

First, God wants our hearts! Then He wants us to use the talents He blessed us with to the utmost. He wants us to be grateful of those gifts, giving Him thanks and glorifying His name through our effort.

In the end, God has only one team that He roots for and encourages everyday. Those are His kids, the ones that have chosen His Son, Jesus Christ, as their personal Lord and Savior.

Maybe one of our seventh-graders said it best when she ended her prayer each time by saying – “whether we win or lose, may we do it all for the glory of You.”

Super Bowl Bites: Packers Not Only Winners in Super Bowl I

In less than two weeks, CBS will proudly telecast the 50th Super Bowl. Recently, their commercials have included original footage from their broadcast of Super Bowl I.

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But, CBS was not the only major network that showed it. NBC also aired the “First AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”

As Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker, Frank Gifford and Pat Summerall were on the call for CBS, NBC countered with Curt Gowdy, Paul Christman, Charlie Jones, OJ Simpson and George Ratterman.

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LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 15, 1967: (L to R) Televison commentors Paul Christman of NBC and Frank Gifford of CBS talk prior to Super Bowl I on January 15, 1967 between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Packers beat the Chiefs, 35-10 to win the professional football World Championship. 19670115-FR-022 1967 Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images *** Local Caption *** Paul Christman;Frank Gifford

A total of 51.8 million people watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10 on January 15, 1967 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Green Bay won on the field, but NBC ruled the airwaves. The “Peacock Network” captured the Nielsen Ratings with 26.75 million viewers to CBS’ 24.43 million. They also beat CBS by a field goal in the Market Share with a 49-46 advantage.

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Role Players: Jeremiah Castille and “The Fumble”

In 1986, the Denver Broncos crushed the Super Bowl dreams of the Cleveland Browns with “The Drive.”

The “Mistake by the Lake”, and its “Dawg Pound” fans, were silenced as Denver quarterback John Elway orchestrated a legendary 15 play, 98 yard drive in the game’s final five minutes. His touchdown pass to Mark Jackson

Denver Broncos Mark Jackson, 1987 AFC Championship

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 11: Football: AFC playoffs, Denver Broncos Mark Jackson (80) victorious after scoring game tying touchdown during game vs Cleveland Browns, Cleveland, OH 1/11/1987 (Photo by Tony Tomsic/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (SetNumber: X34239 TK2 R15 F15)

sent the game into overtime where the Broncos won on a Rich Karlis field goal.

One year later, the Browns attempted to produce their own “drive”. Trailing 38-31,with just over a minute left in regulation, Cleveland reached the Denver eight yard-line looking to tie the game.

Enter Jeremiah Castille.

In his fifth NFL season, the former Alabama Crimson Tide All-American, was in his first year with the Broncos. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Castille started 45 of his first 60 NFL games from 1983-1986.

Though playing in 11 games during 1987, Castille did not start and was used as a backup cornerback, many times in special situations. Such was the case in the AFC title game.

On first and goal from Denver’s 8-yard line, Castille came into the game as the Bronco’s expected Cleveland to throw. Showing a three-wide formation, and Denver with an extra DB, Brown’s quarterback Bernie Kosar changed from a passing to a running play.

Castille took advantage of his opportunity.

Kosar handed-off to 215-pound Earnest Byner and the Columbus, Georgia native was barreling toward the end zone for an apparent score. Outweighed by 40 pounds, Castille came off his coverage duties and met Byner in the hole, stripping the ball loose and recovering “The Fumble” at the two-yard line.

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Watch the play and listen to the call from NBC’s Dick Enberg here.

Because he kept his focus and played his role, Castille helped Denver to a second consecutive Super Bowl and the little-known cornerback is now forever-known in Bronco history.

Nearly 30 years later, Castille’s current roles include teaching, coaching and leading his Christian-based Jeremiah Castille Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Composure – A Sticky Situation

“Never let them see you sweat.”

In 1984, the Gillette Company launched this new ad slogan for its antiperspirant line, Dry Idea.  It became one of the most famous in advertising history running for over 12 years and being pitched by some of the biggest names of that era. (Former Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_EUz0XQbz4)

Keeping our composure is, like most things, easier said than done.  Talking the talk is simple; walking the walk is a much different story.

See Simon Peter.

In John 13:37, he boldly tells Jesus – “I will lay down my life for you.” Five chapters later, when the heat was on, Peter did just as Jesus said. He denied his Savior three times. Not only did Peter deny Jesus, he vehemently denied Him. Peter broke when it was time to stand.

Lest we start feeling good about ourselves,  Peter, though he broke, was literally facing life or death among a mob mentality.

On the flip side, we daily encounter those harrowing times that test men’s souls like: Waiting in a drive through (with our without screaming children). Stuck in traffic. Getting lost (and feeling embarrassed about it). Not being able to find the car keys.

Proverbs 25:28 states: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.” During Biblical times, if the walls of the city were breached, its inhabitants and everything in it were at extreme risk.

Isn’t the same true in our own lives?  Why should my 12-year old daughter be put at risk because my “walls” are “broken down” by a cell phone gone AWOL? (I just blamed it on the cell phone)  

My lack of composure breaches her protection. If she enters those turbulent teenage years handling situations similarly, I will not be able to pull a Pilate and wash my hands of it. The stains will remain.

Thus creating a sticky situation now and in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Role

Everyone has a role to play. At some time or another, all of us have balked or pushed back against the said role presented us. Thoughts and feelings run the gammut. It’s demeaning. There’s not enough limelight. Someone else is getting all the pub.

Humans. We are a prideful bunch and get our lip run out because it’s not about me.

Well, all of us little campers can roll that lip back up before it gets stepped on. Thanks to God’s Word, through The Apostle Paul’s writing in I Corinthians 12:12-31, He informs us:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Whatever role we are called to, let’s do it with excellence, to first honor Jesus, because it is an important piece of a much bigger picture.

No. 1 vs. No. 2 – Untilled Soil vs. Fertile Ground

Monday night’s National Championship tilt between #1 Clemson and #2 Alabama is only the 49th meeting between the nation’s two-top ranked teams since the Associated Press (AP) poll debuted in 1936

When was the first? College Ga569775859045817969_1436471605me Day didn’t make it to Ann Arbor on October 9, 1943 when No. 1 Notre Dame bounced the second-ranked Michigan Wolverines, 35-12.

73 years later, many favor the Crimson Tide to capture their 16th national title on the natural grass in Glendale, Arizona. Clemson is looking for its first in 34 years.

As expected, Alabama has a huge edge playing in nine of these rare matchups with a 6-3 mark. This is the Tigers’ maiden voyage in a top-two tussle.

Interestingly, the SEC’s perennial power has entered this game ranked second, six times, and they don’t seem to mind the undercard billing. The Crimson Elephants have won five times in this position.

Four of those victories, 1979 (vs. Penn State), 1993 (Miami), 2012 (LSU) and 2013 (Notre Dame) brought national crowns back to Tuscaloosa.

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