Football and Real Life
The professional sport of football is one of violent respect.
It is an odd mixture of grown men playing a child’s game and earning an inordinate amount of money. For the die-hard fan, the painful crash of bodies interspersed with artistic movements inspires the child within. It is as the grown-ups watching become the children they once were and are watching superheroes war for what is right.
At least, that’s what I’ve felt when watching a team I love play a team I despise.
But every so often, the third wall is broken. It is the field of separation between player and fan, team and stadium, athlete and viewer.
Last Sunday held one of those moments.
Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks to have played the game, expected his team, the Denver Broncos, to win the playoff game and move into the conference championship. He has had a remarkable year. Coming off of another neck surgery and being traded from his beloved Indianapolis Colts, his team seemed to be on a roll entering the playoffs. Most everyone agreed that the Baltimore Ravens would simply not be able to sustain any longer into the playoffs. Ray Lewis, the famous and controversial linebacker, would likely play his last professional game on the road and lose. Lewis was playing in the waning years of his career with a severely injured triceps muscle. It was time for his retirement. However, the Ravens simply would not quit.
Through a stunning game that went into double-overtime, the Ravens finally won the game. Fun to watch. Surprising outcome. Football as it should be. Unexpected to the very end.
The game was filled with hundreds of decisions, collisions, sprints, tackles, and passes. But the most important moment for the two famed athletes came after the game. Rather than taking his loss and leaving the stadium, Peyton Manning waited. He waited to talk privately with Ray Lewis.
Chad Steele, the media relations director for the Ravens, captured this photo of their conversation.
Steele wrote: Great moment @ 1.5 hours after the game, Peyton Manning and his family waited to congratulate @raylewis52.com #ravens
Reportedly, Manning took a few moments to talk with Lewis in order to thank him. He thanked him for being a strong competitor. Manning was glad to face Lewis on the field of competition because the clash of wills, hearts, and minds made him better. Both of the men are known for their unflagging work ethic. They have both played through pain and injury. They have both sharpened their minds to understand the game more completely. They hold a command over their respective teams and have earned the respect of their opponents.
Manning and Lewis, from the mere perspective of the game of football, have worked as hard as any person can at their craft.
I have a craft as well. So do you. It may be laying bricks, designing buildings, accounting, sales, woodwork, or singing. The picture of Manning and Lewis leaves me with a question: Do I work my craft in such a way that inspires such a reaction as these two men? I’ll never throw a pass or make a tackle in an NFL game. I’m not designed for such.
But, I am designed for what I do now; husband, father, son, brother, friend, publisher, writer, editor, pastor, teacher. Every life is a stewardship of ability and availability. We must use them with wisdom for the days in which we live.
With the days that I have, the access to God’s grace, the beauty of His Word, the indwelling of His Spirit – I pray that my life will become a testimony that is larger than the work of a mere mortal.