NFL Playoffs build Character?

I’m going out on a limb with this post, I know. But, I can’t help it. I’ve been thinking about the Seattle Seahawks wildcard victory over the New Orleans Saints the past few days. I just can’t get over the 67 yard run by Marshawn Lynch that ushered the Seahawks into the play-offs. S0, you ask, what could we possibly learn from watching NFL football? I submit to you that watching football (and hockey for that matter) is a perfectly acceptable recreational activity. At the very least you can get a few high-cardio work-outs when your team makes a touchdown or receives an unfair penalty. The standing, jumping, and fist-pumping most certainly will boost heart rates. I also hope to convince you that supporting your local team can be a pursuit of leisure – meditation on the struggle of humanity.

Surrounded and Entangled

At the beginning of the play, it seemed like it would be just another run into the mob at the line of scrimmage. I’ve often been impatient with the typical 1 or 2 yard running play. It just seems like such a waste to run straight at those snarling defenders. But one day my husband told me that the offense is hoping to poke a hole in the line of defense so that the running back can slide through. So, as I watched Lynch begin his run, I wasn’t surprised that he ran smack into what seemed to be a brick wall of linemen. The interesting thing is that he just kind of slid off their backs, finding the path of least resistance until he finally made it through the line. At this point a whole new play began. Lynch was no longer rushing for a first down, the goal line was in view.

[I apologize, my imbedded video was disabled by YouTube. I recommend]

This is also where I think we would benefit from pairing our video with Paul’s letter to the Romans. Take a look at chapter 12, verse 1: “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”. Indeed Lynch was surrounded and you can see he is shaking Saint defenders off, like a dog who has just come out of the water. I love it!

Just when Lynch has made it through the crowd, we see a lone cornerback, Tracy Porter, come into view. Isn’t that just the way of life? You’ve made it through some struggle – marriage problems, financial stress, career dissatisfaction, illness… and just when you think you are in the clear it comes back into view. Here is where we need to take a lesson from Marshawn Lynch.

How to Throw a Stiff-Arm

Please rewind and watch the video at least a few times to get this down.

1) Check your peripheral vision every now and then.

2) Take the threat seriously.

3) Get mad!

4) Throw out your arm fiercely until the disturbance is flat on it’s back and in your dust.

I think the pivotal moment in our hero’s scenario is #3. He got mad! Let’s just imagine the words that were going through Lynch’s head at this moment…

“Nope. Denied. Sorry, I’ve got an appointment with the end zone. This is not going to happen.”

Okay, I admit, there are plenty of scenarios in our lives where a stiff arm will not solve our problems. I also think there are plenty of problems we allow to side-track us, all because of a lack of determination. Most of these problems have to do with our lack of self-discipline. Here are a few examples from my own life: weight-gain, debt, and unhealthy relationships due to lack of boundaries. Just when I was making progress in my life, one of these would rear it’s head and try to knock me out of the game. Usually I would have forgotten to check my peripherals – am I heading the right direction, is there trouble on the horizon?

But then, I got mad. Just like the voice of the NFL announcer, I said “Get off Me!’ That’s right, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and out went my arm. This is how a person grows to maturity. We learn how to identify those things that have a tendency to trip us, we deal with them, and then move toward the goal.

Overcoming a Losing Record

Maybe a losing record isn’t such a bad thing. Most of the nation was laughing at the Seahawks because they entered the playoffs with a less than stellar record.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

That’s right, we can be thankful for all the crud we have mucked through in our lives. If we have experienced trials and then taken the time to work through them, we should be able to see little seasons of growth and maturity in our lives. Not only that, mix that growth and maturity with some hope and you have a ravenously hungry football team on your hands.

So, with that I charge the Seahawks and Hawk fans everywhere:

Have Hope! We’ve made it through the playoffs before! We can do it again! Go Team!

For those of you more interested in the struggle of humanity:

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but wealso rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:2-5)