Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who's really to blame?

It happens after every weekend of football in the south. If a team loses, every true fan begins to dissect the loss. Some take it farther than others. Some even watch the game back and replay it like a coach. Most have no idea what they are looking at since they don't know what the play called was or what the players are really supposed to be doing. But it makes them sound more intelligent when they write or say, "Well I went back and watched the tape and so and so did this when he should have done that." If you don't know what is supposed to happen then it's easy to assign blame to whomever you desire.

I watched a few games this weekend! Let's start the blame game with my favorite team the Florida Gators. Tim Tebow is awful, he couldn't play for a pop warner team! Not really, but you get the picture. Everyone can easily blame Tim for the Gators' struggles in the red zone. And he would be the first to put most of the blame on himself. That's not the correct read here, or I should have thrown it there are statements that he can make better than the rest of us. He knows what the plays really were. He knows the coverages, the blocking schemes, and the routes that were called. He also knows whether the line missed the block, the receiver ran a wrong route, or whether the defense just made a great play. But rarely will (no make that never) will you hear Tim blame anyone but himself. That's a shame and if you are reading this Tim, it's not all your fault!

On the first pick-six if that was a called route, then the blame should fall squarely on the coaching staff. There were two receivers in the same area that could be covered by one guy in a third down situation. If they weren't supposed to be there, then obviously someone ran the wrong route and brought either the defender that tipped the ball or the guy who caught it and went the other way for six to the spot where he was not supposed to be. Or we could take a look at the offensive line that didn't protect enough to the play side and caused Tim to throw it off the back foot without having time to see the defenders. Of course Urban could have called time out to change the play or taken a delay of game penalty so it's his fault. Or the MSU defenders could be to blame for tipping the ball, catching the tip, and having the gall to not drop it or fall down or get tackled before returning it for a touchdown against the mighty Gators. Or it could have been my fault because I just said "I would rather Tim throw a pick than hold the ball too long on this next play." I never said anything about a return for a touchdown!

My guess is that we could all play the blame game a lot in our daily lives as well. There is always someone to blame for our mistakes. The truth is that we all make them, we should own up to them, deal with the consequences, learn what we can from them and then move on. That seems to be great advice, tough to do, but so worth it in the end.

Which brings me to my favorite blamer, Lame Kitten. Not only is it not his fault for not making the kick easier for his already once-blocked field goal unit, he is convinced there is a conspiracy afoot to keep Alabama and Florida on an undefeated track to Atlanta's showdown. Or at least that is what he implied with his comments this weekend after Alabama's narrow win. He wasn't going to risk letting the refs lose the game for him. That's classic. Instead all he did was risk losing the game by not running another play to try to get closer. Not to mention the other 59 minutes and 56 seconds that his team had to get one more touchdown, the line didn't keep Cody from pushing them back, and the kicker didn't get the ball up enough to clear a mound of little people, and the kick was going left even if it cleared the line. Cody jumped higher when he was throwing his helmet than he did to have to block the kick. Heck, it hit him, not the other way around. So let's leave the blame on the officials to when it was really deserved like the folks at Mississippi State. They have a real beef with the replay official, who in my opinion got it wrong but probably got it right with the information and views he had to work with. Gator fans have been on enough of the other side of the "non" or "bad" calls by the guys in the stripes to know what that feels like. Let's just leave it at it feels better being on the good side of it for once or twice!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Passion, Commitment and Leadership

So the answer to the question was "He will." As in, yes Tim Tebow will play on Saturday against the LSU Tigers. And while it wasn't his best game, it was good enough. Good enough to beat the Tigers. Good enough to beat the #4 team in the country. Good enough to beat a SEC school on their home field. Good enough to win on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge for the first time in a long time, even with their slightly skewed statistics. His play on the field was good enough.
But what was more impressive is his effect on the rest of his team. There was never any doubt he would play if he could play. The guys on this team know the real Tim Tebow. They know the make up of the man both on and off the field. They know the hype and the reality behind it. Simply put, they know, love and trust Tim Tebow. They knew that if the medical staff said he could go, no one was going to keep Tim from playing. They know so much more that the national talking heads will never know. Because they will never be able to know the Tim Tebow who is the teammate everybody wants to have on their team.
I couldn't help but laugh when ESPN was running the line "Tim Tebow cleared medically to play, decision not yet made as to if he will." Or at least some version of that line was scrolling across the screen. I laughed because earlier in the day, Coach Meyer had said if he was cleared to play, he was going to play. I don't know if even Coach Meyer could have kept Tim off that field. He came back with one goal in mind, a perfect season. I know that Coach has put an end to that kind of talk by the players, but it's the real reason Tim and Brandon Spikes came back. They have a passion to do something that has never been done at the University of Florida. Complete a undefeated and untied season in Football. And Tim wasn't going to leave that in the hands of anyone else if there was any way he could play.
That's what makes Tim Tebow such a great leader. Passion and Commitment to finishing the task before him. That's what makes others want to join him in his quest. That's why he can rally his team like very few others can do. His fellow players know his heart, his passion, and his commitment. And that translates to real leadership. The kind earned in the heat of the battle and the hours of preparation required for greatness. It's not conveyed in a title, or bestowed via position. That kind of leadership wins championships both on and off the field.
I wonder if I would have strapped on the helmet and stuck my head in there if I had the skills and the body Tim does. I like to think of myself as that kind of leader, but there are moments when my passion wanes. There are times when I get tired of doing the right things when the results are not always positive. It's in those moments when I am glad to have a guy like Tim Tebow near me. It's then that the Lord reminds me to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Sometimes the Lord even uses eye black billboards to make His Message known! Thanks Tim!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Will Tebow Play Against LSU?

There are times when I really enjoy having a little insider information on the Gator athletic program. And there are times when I wish I never did. The last ten days have been one of those times. I have had people call me, text me, email me, and even send me a message on Facebook asking me what I have heard about Tebow. Well here's the answer: "I have heard the same things you have!"
That's the honest truth. But even if I had heard something, I wouldn't print it or send it in writing anywhere. Even if I had the exclusive words from Tim's own mouth, I wouldn't tell anyone who was interested. I think they will do what is best for Tim first and then for the team second.
I am sure if the decision is left to Tim, he'd play. Heck he would probably have tried to go back in against Kentucky if he could have seen the way to the field clearly. I know he wants to help the team achieve all the goals they have set for themselves. He's the leader and the team would want him to play as well. But they also know that this is a long season and they will need a fully healthy Tebow for the stretch drive against the SEC east foes still on the schedule.
If the decision to start Tim comes down to a healthy Tim with a slight chance of re-injury, then that's when the decision gets tough. If the Doctors say he can play, my guess is that he will play. But they will have to give a full clear for that to happen. If there's a doubt, then I don't believe he will play at all. After all that's why you have a backup Quarterback on the team.
If I was Coach Meyer, I wouldn't say either way. I would want to make LSU have to prepare for two options. How do you stop Tebow if he plays and how will the Gator offense be different if John Brantley is the starter. More preparation means less time to concentrate for the LSU defense. I think by now, Tim has a good enough handle on our offense to go out there with no practice time and get the job done. I also believe that John is a talented thrower that when he gets the chance to start will be a star in this league. So either way, I still like our chances in Baton Rouge.
It won't be easy with Tim starting and it will be tougher with John getting his first start in one of the toughest stadiums to play at night, but either way it's going to be a fun week to be a Gator or a Tiger. The hype will continue to build. The atmosphere will be electric. My hope is that the crowd is going home early, but I don't really see that happening. And I don't think that has anything to do with whether Tebow plays or not. I only wish it was Saturday already!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Triathlon Thoughts

My training partner and friend Tom Grubbs and I recently were rejected by a publishing house for a devotional book for Triathletes. So I thought I'd just give you a little bit of what we had in mind. This first one is about starting a race and would have served as the introduction.

When you stand with your feet in the water or on the sand for the start of a sprint triathlon, your mind begins to wonder “what in the world are you doing here?” Or at least mine did on each of my three attempts during the past summer. I’m sure those around me who were more experienced were having different thoughts, but I guess that even some of the more experienced athletes were contemplating the same thing. What makes a person want to attempt to swim this distance, then get on a bike and ride while still wet, and then get off the bike and run a 5K race? The sun is barely over the horizon and we are about to push our bodies to do something we are not quite sure we are capable of finishing. I know it’s not the Ironman, but it sure feels like it from where I’m standing.
One of the reasons I began training to complete these types of activities is to keep my body in some reasonable shape. I Corinthians 6:19 states that “the body is the temple of the Lord.” So as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have a responsibility to keep my temple in as good of working order as I can. I have found that I do better with an exercise plan when it is tied to a goal that I am pursuing. Thus, knowing that I had to swim one quarter of a mile in the ocean became a goal that I knew would involve lots of swimming to achieve. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to drown in the process! Still standing there on the starting line, I didn’t quite “know” that I could make it on that first morning.
Another reason I wanted to compete in the triathlon was to make sure that I could still finish what I started. The only thing I ever quit in my life was high school wrestling and I only did that after setting a deal with our coach about my practice and my progress. When my progress didn’t match my practice, we both agreed it was time for me to move on to something else. But the older I got, the harder it has become to complete everything. My mind still says I can do it, but sometimes my body just doesn’t want to cooperate. I wanted to start the training so I could train my body again to finish the task at hand. I wanted to be able to say like Paul, “I have finished the race.” 2 Timothy 4:7. Although Paul was talking about his entire life and ministry, I wanted to know again that feeling of finishing something that seems impossible when you first start thinking about it. When I began training, the thought of finishing a sprint tri seemed impossible for me. Yet I knew that with the right training and the right encouragement, I could make it to the end. That’s a lot like life and ministry on a college campus by the way!
The final reason I wanted to run this race was just to say I had done something that so many others have never even tried. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, but I really don’t want to be an average guy. I want to excel in everything I set my hand to do. That doesn’t mean I have to win. I’m not going to win any triathlons in my age category or weight for that matter any time soon. But I want to do stuff that others my age avoid or fear to try. When I cook, I want everything to taste great. When I compete, I want to give it my very best. When I read, I want to devour the knowledge in the material. I want my life to embody Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 10:31 that “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
After I completed the first race, there was so much to still learn about myself and the sport that I wanted to continue to train. Now that I have completed three years of races that desire to learn how far I can push myself is still as strong as ever. I’m starting soon to train for the next season of Triathlons with a hope and desire to complete an Olympic distance tri in the next couple of seasons. Who knows, maybe it will be this one. Still I know that it will take greater training and that same level of faith to jump in the water and start swimming without knowing completely that I can finish the race. I might not finish, but I know that I can start if I will only trust the Lord and jump in the water. The start is not the finish, but you can’t finish unless you get started!