Every year my friends and I start up a fantasy football league. This year, I was extra excited, because my team, the Seahawks had players to draft. As the season drew near, expectations were that this was the year we could win the Super Bowl. Of course I drafted Wilson and Lynch. And so it was week three, and to my dismay, Coach Carroll benched my players at halftime. Ok, they had great days, I was easily winning my game, the Seahawks had already piled on a 35 point lead, and yet, I wanted more. I wanted to keep up with Manning. Yet plead as I might, the coach wasn't listening. He'd already won the game, there was no point in padding his stats. As disappointed as I was, it was then I started to think.
It was the next day, the Saints were playing Monday Night Football against the Dolphins. They had picked up a sizeable lead, the game was over. Then they get the ball, one play later, Brees threw a 40 yard strike down the field to Graham, touchdown. As they handed the ball back to Miami, on the next drive, they sacked the opposing QB twice. It dawned on me then, Carroll was right. There was no need for this humiliation, the game was over.
The days passed, and I felt the cancer spreading, as I turned on the news, I saw the never ending debate, one senator was comparing the tea party to the KKK, another was comparing the affordable care act to the Holocaust. While I may not agree with the Tea Party, it wasn't fair to suggest they were blowing up Churches to push a political agenda of discrimination, nor was it fair to suggest that the affordable Health Care act was akin to rounding up a million Jewish people, and putting them into a gas chamber. As I turned on Espn, it was the same thing, now with four wins, the Bronco's were elevated to the level of the almost undefeated Patriots. Why was everything drawn to such absurd levels? I felt the need to act, a question was on my mind, I wasn't sure what it was, I just knew I had to say something.
Full of resolve, I knew what needed to be done. I went straight to the heart of Bronco country, and I had my say. The Bronco's had faced four teams, with a combined record of 4-12. Ok, Manning was scoring lots of points, he didn't need to, he was padding his stats. It wasn't enough, I had to drive the point home, so I continued, we all know what happens when he faces a real team, /choke.
I made my point, however, I started to think, had the cancer spread to me as well? Manning may be a Hall of Fame QB, however he is only one man, what of the other 21? Even Brady lost a Super Bowl when he was blitzed to death. Everyone loses. That's the nature of the game.
I started to think back to the controversy between Seahawks and the 49ers. It had begun many years ago, when Carroll coached USC. In order to win a Championship, he had to win the polls, to do that meant driving up the score. He was called out for it by Harbaugh. It was a lesson he took to heart.
Being a champion is more than just winning, it is the nobility of spirit. It is learning to accept loss with dignity, and the grace to accept victory with humility. It was in the constant learning to better oneself, and to prepare for the next trial. It was these qualities that made a Champion, not being stronger, faster, more athletic. Perhaps, it was from this, that Carroll learned, that winning games wasn't his most important goal, it was in teaching his boys to become men. It was these lessons that transferred to every element in life, it was these lessons that in the end, they were all that really mattered.
As the weeks passed, the Seahawks lost, and then both Denver and the Saints. It was then I went back to the sight. I said, if Manning plays like that, he will be tough to beat, He didn't have a perfect games, he threw an interception, his hb fumbled the ball on the 3 yard line, however he showed me heart, he showed me those qualities that make a champion.
As the days followed, I watched the media slow down. When asked if the Seahawks were the best team in the NFL, Berman answered, its so tough to say, there are so many variables, who is hot, who is injured, who has home field advantage, who matches up with who. As he is fond of saying, that's why they play the game. It was an answer worthy of the face of ESPN. Berman is representing an institution, the fans, the players, his network..
As the game was played, and the night drew on, I went to work, and finally the question dawned on me. When did Sports become Politics?
Today, the NFL is at an all time popularity, and it is because of people like Berman, and like Carroll, people who put the institution first. At the same time, Congress is bordering on approval levels shared by Castro and the Communist party. So perhaps there is a lesson to be learned. And it is simply this, it is time for our pundits and our politicians to behave in the same humility, the same dignity, and the same grace and nobility of spirit, as we expect of our children.