Thursday, September 28, 2006

Playing not to lose...

You remember the cheer from your high school days at the football field, don’t you?

“Be aggressive! Be be aggressive! B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E! Aggressive! Be be aggressive!”

If you have kept up with Alabama football during the Mike Shula era, you have seen a team that just tries to hang in there. If ‘Bama is in a position to bust it wide open, chances are that they’ll play it safe and take the easy way out.

That’s all well and good. But that’s not Alabama football.

The story was told about one of Bear Bryant’s defending champion teams visiting a hated rival the following season. This was back in the days before overtimes, when tie ballgames were common. The game was a “slobber-knocker”. The two heavyweights battled it out for 60 minutes. Down by 7, the Crimson Tide put together one final drive to come storming back. After scoring the touchdown, Bear Bryant went for 2. They didn’t convert, and lost by a single point.

When asked about why he didn’t just kick the extra point and take the tie, the Bear grizzled, “Champions don’t play to tie. Champions play to win.”

I love Alabama football. I think Shula is the right man for the job right now. I think he can take us back to the national spotlight like we had once enjoyed. But some of his play calls leave me and the rest of the Tide Nation scratching our heads.

For instance, in the Arkansas game last week, our freshman kicker clearly had the heebie-jeebies. With not much time left in the 4th quarter, we had the ball in the redzone with a 1st down. The first play called was a Ken Darby run to the center of the field for 1 yard.

Okay, Shula is setting up a nice kick for Tiffin if we need it.”

2nd down. Ken Darby up the middle for maybe another yard.

Alright, let’s take a shot at 6 here. JPW has played a smart game. Let him take control.”

3rd down. Ken Darby up the middle for maybe a half yard.


4th down. Leigh Tiffin wide right. Again.

And the rest is history.

Do us a favor, Shula. Know when to take chances. Don’t show your fake field goal on 4th and 8 on your first drive against Vandy! But DO take a shot at the endzone when your freshman kicker is having a rough day!
Version 3

Here’s my 3rd try at a post concerning the recent events surrounding Terrell Owens and his apparent attempt at suicide.

My first version was aimed at showing (from a Biblical perspective) that money and fame mean nothing without a deep sense of purpose in life (i.e. serving God).

My second version tried to contrast the circus that is “T.O.” with another successful football player, Shaun Alexander, who fears God and tries to live an upright life.

Both versions seemed to have more of a derogatory tone than I wanted. So I’m on to Version 3.

The day that the news broke about Owens apparently trying to commit suicide was a slow day at the office for me. I had a full slate of patients scheduled, but no one (I mean NO ONE) showed up until about 4:00 pm that day. After taking care of my administrative responsibilities, I was left with a good amount of free time.

After about 5 games of FreeCell and 2 games of Hearts, I was ready for something more. Which, ironically, is exactly what I found.

One advantage of working at a Sam’s Club is having a bookstore at my office. Occasionally, I have spent some slow days reading some of the latest titles from their book collection. On this day, I found a book entitled “Touchdown, Alexander!”, an autobiography of Shaun Alexander, an Alabama football great. You can guess why I was interested.

It was a relatively quick and easy read. The book covered his childhood, his introduction to peewee football, his talent in football from an early age, his decision to attend the University of Alabama, and his journey as a professional football player. Interwoven throughout the account were stories of his faith in God.

Let me share a few excerpts from his book:

{commenting on Joshua 1:7} “First, if I did everything God told me to do, I would be successful. (I don’t equate being successful with having a lot of money or being famous, but with living a good life.)” – pg. 66

{commenting on his new popularity at Alabama} “Some people pulled at me, and others grabbed me. It made me feel like a rock star, and I didn’t like that feeling very much. Though it was flattering, I just couldn’t fit into it.” – pg. 81

{commenting on another school trying to sway him from his verbal college commitment} “My mother’s teaching and the lessons I’d received as a kid in church were so strong, I didn’t even feel tempted. To give my word is as strong as signing a contract. I couldn’t go back on that.” – pg. 53

Not only did I learn about Alexander’s time at Alabama, but I also saw an ordinary man who was totally focused on God. That’s a different perspective that we don’t always see in life, especially from a successful professional football player.

What does all this have to do with T.O.? Like I said before, my 2nd version of this post was going to be a T.O. bash and an Alexander praise party. But that discussion seems to be neither here nor there. The real discussion should be: where do I fit in compared to these 2 men?

In regards to how good a grip these two men have on life’s purpose, I’d give T.O. a 2 and Alexander a 9.

But I would give Rick a 7. Maybe a 7.5.

I don’t think I’m wrapped up in money, fame, or materialism, but I certainly haven’t been viewing my life and my relationship to God as well as Alexander has. We would call it being on “cruise control”.

In his book, Alexander would comment on how he prayed for God to be in charge of his life. He spoke of wanting to go to church camps to teach kids about Jesus. He used his “fame” to speak to kids about purity before marriage. His life seems to be all encompassed with serving God.

Too often, we’re wrapped up in college football. Or fishing. Or exercise. Or internet. We make those things our life, instead of making Christ our life (Colossians 3:4). And seeing how unfulfilling T.O.’s new $25 million contract was just drives the point home even more.
So instead of bashing T.O. again, and instead of spouting off the Scriptures that I haven’t fully exercised in my own life, I’ll just hold up an example of a man who believes in God with his whole being. Although he is a part of a denomination and not the one true church of the Bible, he sure could teach us a lot about self-denial and commitment to God.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What's good for the goose...

Let's play make believe.

Make believe that hated basketball coach Bobby Knight was on a radio station, telling his story of how he went from nothing to something.

Bobby has a friend with a radio show, so they sit and chat about his "rags-to-riches" story.

Bobby says, "I just couldn't wait for the day that I would be in charge. I was tired of wiping up the sweat of all the black players as I sat on the bench. I couldn't wait for the day when I could be the head coach and start a team of all white boys."

Bobby's radio friend laughs. They revel at how they've turned the tables.

Now back to reality.

Do you think this kind of racism isn't happening today? See if you can fathom what Oprah Winfrey talked about on her radio program Monday, September 25th, 2006.

By the way, credit should be given to Rick and Bubba for the above analogy.

White racism is as bad as Black racism is as bad as Hispanic racism is as bad as Asian racism is as bad as.....

Racism is racism, no matter what direction it flows from. It's amazing that Queen Oprah can get away with it because of who she is.
All of a sudden, it hits me.

In one fell swoop, a truth of life that everyone must come to grips with hits me square between the eyes. I realized the most horrifying, dreadful, ominous fact I have ever faced.

I am old.

It is probably just a coincidence that the last visit I’ll ever have in my old hometown was the same weekend that I became 27. But the irony of the two events has opened my eyes wide to the truth that I cannot ignore.

I am an adult that can never go back to being a kid again.

Most people get this revelation when they get married. I didn’t. My wife is so much fun to be with, I still think we’re dating.

Most people become aware of their age when they enter “the real world” after school. It took me till age 25 to finally finish my education. So maybe my brain thought I was 21 (like most people are when they finish school).

So, it was probably good that my 27th birthday came on the last weekend that my parents would spend in the city they lived in for almost 30 years. Sometimes it takes more than one cataclysmic event to convince you of something you didn’t want to admit.

I don’t think that I am immature or childlike. I don’t waste money. I don’t live dangerously. I make mature decisions for my family and myself. But I never had something come so clearly, in such a way that I just can’t overlook.

For instance, this weekend I saw a grown man. He worked hard all day because there was work to be done. He could have propped his feet up and watched football all Saturday, but he worked. He packed boxes. He cleaned tools. He disassembled appliances. He did what was needed.

I am ashamed to say that I was not that man. But I’m proud to say that that man was my dad. Many people in the world aren’t blessed to know who their father is. Of those who know their father, few would have a better example than I have had. He is a true example of how to be a grown man.

While I helped him with some of his work on Saturday, he encouraged me to be a big helper to my wife, who somehow juggles Pharmacy school and 20 hours of work a week. He suggested cooking supper, cleaning, washing dishes, washing clothes, and cleaning bathrooms. In essence, he was saying, “Help her anyway that you can.”

His words worked. Yesterday, I went grocery shopping. This morning, I woke up 30 minutes earlier than normal without an alarm clock. I peeled potatoes, and started a roast in the crockpot. I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow, but I hope that I can find something to do every day to help ease the burden on my wife.

Just to be clear, I am not saying any of this to “toot my own horn”. Just to prove the point that a father’s example and encouragement can produce once unheard of results.
So, this 27 year-old man is making strides to be a man. The kind of man that makes his wife feel like a queen. The kind of man that works hard at what he does. The kind of man that my kids will need to see in their daddy. The kind of man that God expects me to be.
I guess it was bound to happen.

My sister has a blog. My friend's preacher has a blog. I'm surprised that my parents haven't started a blog. I guess this is a pretty good way to get some thoughts out there to the world.

Let me begin with the following disclaimer:

WARNING: The author of this blog does not claim to be an author, a good writer, or even sensible at times. Only information that is in line with the Bible can be completely trusted. Some material may seem boring, stupid, trivial, or downright off the wall. However, said author is probably all of these. So bear with said author.

I do believe that I have a knack for recognizing things for what they are. I don't think I'm the most inventive, creative person on the street, but I am an astute observer. Maybe this will help me get some of my observations out there to the world.

And by "world", I guess I mean to my friends, relatives, and acquaintences. It would be extremely flattering to have someone regularly check this blog for updates. To think that someone would be so interested in my zany, random thoughts is beyond me. But I've gotten a pretty good response in other arenas of publishing. Maybe that will work out here, too.

So, here goes nothing. I hope you can find some entertainment, wisdom, and/or enjoyment in the blogs I'm able to produce. Please be patient, but please check often.