Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Football Is Still a Game—Isn’t It?

I keep seeing him, over and over, running to his right, outside the pocket, looking for a receiver who will make the catch and set the stage for Ryan Longwell to kick the tie-breaking and game-winning field goal, with just seconds left in regulation playing time.

“Brett! Brett! Don’t try it! Look! In front of you the field is wide open for 10 or 15 yards!”

“You can slide into the 25 or 30 yard line—that will be enough”

Every quarterback from Pop Warner on up is taught the one cardinal rule of passing the football: Never, ever throw the ball back across the field. Of course, Brett Favre is not every quarterback. He doesn’t see it that way. Whether it is the number of hits he has taken from charging linemen and linebackers and even safeties who have taken turns pummeling him to the ground during this grueling day of battle with the New Orleans Saints (team of destiny, some say), or his return to his old standby throwing arm which has made him one of the legendary quarterbacks in NFL history, or whether he is just too damned tired to run another step on the injured ankle that almost took him out of the game, he goes ahead and does what every quarterback and field general knows better than to do. He throws across the field to his left into three Saints defenders surrounding his intended receiver. One of them picks it off.

The next scene is New Orleans winning the coin toss to begin the overtime and promptly marching through the demoralized Minnesota Vikings defense to score the winning 3 points.

Why am I obsessing about Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings? After all, as the saying goes, it is only a football game. Perhaps a career-ending one for Favre (but even that isn’t so certain, is it?), but a game nevertheless.

Well, if I am honest, it is not about Brett Favre or the Vikings, or even football. How many times have I seen, right in front of my nose, the way open to get to the next critical juncture in life, only to revert to my little tried and not-so-true way of doing things? I throw myself directly into the most impossible situation, knowing the outcome will be disastrous. Is it for glory and fame? For proving that this time my way will work?

No! It is just the little me again, thinking I can control the outcome of the game, all by myself. Thankfully, I know that it is still a game, one that the mysterious force called life is playing with itself. And we get to play and we get to watch ourselves playing at the same time. So let the game continue!

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