Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What can we learn from yesterday? (Seattle Seahawks come from behind victory)

At the ripe old age of 59, I look back on over 50 years of involvement in playing and watching the game of football.

I would’ve liked nothing better than staying home yesterday and watching the Seahawks play; but our monthly commitment to donating the truck and our time to the food bank comes first.

I have an app on my smart phone called “TheScore”, which keeps track of most major sports events around the country, from racing to basketball to football at college and professional levels.

So yesterday, while I was in Yacolt, I was reduced to keeping track of the game using this app, on the very edge of any kind of data transmission. There were times when I had a data signal and could get information, and there were times when the little wheel grinding was just going round and round on the screen.

The Score disheartened me at the end of the first half, as I'm sure many Seahawk fans were equally disheartened. We were supposed to kick the hell out of the Green Bay Packers, for a variety of reasons, none of which matter at this point and we were failing to do that. Our game manager, our rock on offense, Russell Wilson, was doing an abysmal job at the quarterback position. Our statistics up through halftime were a joke. I'm sure I'm not alone when I tell you that I think that many of us felt that the team was dead and that it was just a matter of rolling over, playing that role, and allowing the inevitable to happen.

Those who've read my column for any length of time will probably conclude several things about me and hopefully one of those things is that I’ve never ascribed to the concept of when rape is inevitable, I should just relax and enjoy it.

No one should do that.

Nevertheless, things were looking bad… Until we had that spark of light in the form of the fake field goal, when all of a sudden the monster that had just been pricked with the Seahawk pin started to bleed.

I was keeping track of the clock to the extent possible, as much as any Seahawk fan or player. I knew that time was both an ally and an enemy. To the extent that it was an ally, because frankly, there was time available to actually come back and take control of the game, to the extent that as an enemy there was a finite time available to make that happen.

After we scored the touchdown through the fake field goal, I was thinking the defense could shut these guys out and we would win the game, 17 to 16. But then Green Bay responded, coming back and kicking a field goal, making the score 19 to 7. At that point, my timing became a very long putt to make.

The game went on, the clock wound down; we go into the fourth quarter… Nothing happens… Both teams are slugging it out with each other… with five minutes or so left in the game, things started happening quickly.

It all started unraveling for Green Bay.

It seems like somebody had kidnapped the Russell Wilson who actually showed up to start the game and replaced him with the Russell Wilson that we've had all season long, who finished out the game. I won’t even begin to try and understand what was going on with him, for the first 55 minutes. Suffice it to say, however, that I am sure nobody on this planet feels worse about the events that transpired in the first 11/12ths of the game, some of which were not his fault, others of which that were, during that time frame.

Nor can I adequately explain the feelings that I was undergoing as I watched this all come apart for Green Bay in a way that was simply beyond by my belief.

As I said, I played a lot of football and watched a lot of football. I have never seen a football game like the football game that took place in Seattle yesterday. I may never understand the mechanics of it. I may never come up with the answers, with how the dots seem to magically align at the last possible moment. How things began to happen that were inexplicable, how Green Bay suddenly started to make mistakes that were simply beyond my comprehension, and how suddenly all the passes, which seemed either be intercepted or fall harmlessly to the ground, began to connect with the intended receivers.

Or how Beast Mode (“Pay the man!”) kept carrying the game on his back, doing his job, play in and play out.

The courage of many of those athletes out there, some of whom have been vilified such as Richard Sherman, who never stopped laying his soul out on the field to win this game, who never stopped rallying the troops, who never stop demanding of himself and others. The excellence that it would take to actually win… Who simply never gave up.

Typically, I feel no sympathy for the team that loses. As a matter of course, they come in, or we go there, and when they lose it’s all good. Yesterday was the exception.

I actually empathized with the players and the fans of the Packers. To have your heart ripped out like that? To be so close, but so far away? And the young man who screwed up the onside kick for Green Bay. Brandon Bostic, who was the third string undrafted free agent from a college no one has ever heard of (Newberry College) to mishandle the kick and fail to do his job, which had he done it, would likely have resulted in a Seahawk defeat.

I can’t help but think that his name will forever be etched next to names such as Bill Buckner, immortalized because of his legendary failure at first base. (Buckner cost the Red Sox a World Series victory in 1986 (the fact that I can even remember that some 29 years later gives testimony to the legendary name of Buckner)). He will, at minimum be vilified locally in the Green Bay area if not around the country for the rest of his life because he tried to do something he wasn't supposed to do and is blamed for everything bad that happened as a result. I believe that aspersion is unfair, and while his actions did play a role in the outcome, they certainly weren't the only thing the Green Bay did that was the wrong call on the field in Seattle yesterday. (And I in fact can empathize with Bostic for his actions on a professional level… and in how some in political circles around here when it comes to the issue of blame being placed, lies being told, and grudges being held.)

All of which sets the table for the title subject: what can be learned from yesterday’s Seahawk victory?

Life is a tough business. This might be an interesting time to load up on bumper sticker sayings, such as: “it really doesn't matter how many times life knocks you down; the question is how many times are you going to get up?”

And there’s an element of truth to that question. When do we give up? When is enough, enough?

There’s something to be said about never giving up.

There’s something to be said about perseverance.

There’s something to be said about faith.

There’s something to be said about not letting the doubts of others determine your destiny.

Along with every other game Seattle played this year, I have this game on my DVR. I have Wilson’s tearful post game remarks. I've played the game of football (In fact, between that and my time in Combat Arms, there isn't a day that goes by that I don’t pay the price for It.), though not for some 29 years. I will watch it repeatedly.

It will teach me.

I know the emotions of it, the focus of it, the playing through pain, the study, the travel. The broken bones, sprains, bruising, concussions. Watching Richard Sherman get up in agony, stagger back out to the field and play with a screwed up arm.

It will teach me.

Watching these men come together to triumph over adversity… a microcosm of purpose, unity, leadership, vision.

That will teach me.

Most of the elements of life in a nice, neat, 4-hour package.

This game is likely to be replayed ad infinitum. If you missed it, watch it. If you can hear a “wired” version of it (Some of these players were actually wired for sound) then do that. Do both.

Learn from it. Remember it.

Most of us will be met with personal disaster. Many of us carry crushing burdens. We begin to stare up at the clock wish it would go to 00:00…. Game over.

Let this game serve as a metaphor for life. Help can come from the strangest places when you least expect it.

And you can persevere. You can survive.

You can win.

1 comment:

Dave on the bass Smirk said...

Great post. Another lesson; never think you've won until you actually do. Green Bay made so many bad decisions, starting with taking a knee after Russell's fourth interception, it boggles the mind. It reminds me of politicians with great early poll results... you know, time to move to the middle, not be controversial, etc.