Winnings, Endings, and a New Respect

playoffsI started playing football when I was 10 and had the good fortune to play all the way through college and a little bit beyond. That’s why I both love and hate the playoffs.

You see when a football season ended I always had a terrible ache in my gut. Whether it was the season in middle school when we one only one game, the year we lost in the NCAA Division II semi finals, or the time we won the Ukrainian National Championship, season over, same nasty feeling.

So for the last two weeks I have had that same feeling, several ties over, Saturday and Sunday.

This past weekend was one of the worst. I went in to the weekend with high hopes only to exit the weekend with just 1 out of 4 of my hoped for winners emerging triumphant and yes, the Broncos loss was the hardest to take.

In terms of those losses let me just say this: I can’t stand playing conservative offense at the end of the game with the lead. If you keep the ball the other team cannot possibly score. I also don’t like playing some skanky prevent defense. If your regular defense has you in the lead after 59:30 why change it? Ok, done with that.

If you think about it this internal sinking of the gut at seasons end isn’t really meant to be. I mean, look at where we started out. Adam and Eve, in the garden, tree of life available for the eating, eternity in our grasp. We could have lived without endings, without regrets, without the sinking gut.

Sure we still would have invented football, probably early on, and there still would have been winners and losers but every game would have been hard enough fought and scheduled with enough chance at a replay that we’d have always felt we had done our best and that the better team had truly won. Sheesh, we might not have even needed referees if you think about it!!

Unfortunately though endings and regrets are a part of the human condition. I think God gives us the grace to live through them but I think he also gives us the gut check to remind us that one day we won’t have to any longer.

Which brings me to my new respect.

I used to really, I mean reallllly, dislike Ray Lewis. There was all that legal craziness when he came into the league, he always seemed a little too cocky and he always seemed to beat the guys I was rooting for. But I have to say Ray has mellowed with age. The guy is a completely class act from what I’ve seen over this, his last season. I even find myself thinking that it wouldn’t be all bad if the Ravens win the Super Bowl. (I will however be rooting for the NFC this year.)

I don’t know Mr. Lewis so I can’t say for sure what’s gone on with him but he does sound a little like Tebow in his praise for the Lord. Funny how people jump all over Tim but just nod and smile at Ray. I guess they’ve seen him thump enough heads. I hope I can finish my race with the same amount of grace Ray seems to be exuding as he finishes this one.

I also hope the 49ers win the Super Bowl and that Alex Smith has to come in on the final drive…but that’s a different story.

What do you think of Ray Lewis’ run into the end of his final season?



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