February 6, 2012
“So, who are you ‘for?’” It’s 2012, and that question is bouncing around regarding presidential politics, but for the last two weeks – unless you were in Florida or Nevada – Super Bowl trumped Super Tuesday as the context.
I’ve been all over the country leading local Master’s Program sessions since the AFC and NFC berths to Indianapolis were secured. Being a SoCal guy – we have to travel to San Diego or San Francisco to find an NFL outpost! – I have no hometown loyalties to draw me into Super Bowl XLVI. I do, however, come loaded with conflicting relationships…
I was in Manhattan the morning after the Giants squeaked past the 49ers, in San Francisco. George McGovern – Chaplain of the Giants – is in my TMP group in New York, and had flown all night to be with us for Session #9. He came straight from the airport.
The networks had covered the apparent details of New York’s march to the Championship, but George had some locker room insights about the team’s journey through the end of the season and to the threshold of the Big One. It was reported in the local newspapers, so I can tell you what George said.
It was Christmas Eve – going into their game against the Jets – when Gian Gonzalez, a teacher from New Jersey, came in to speak at the Giants’ pre-game chapel. He challenged the men in the room (about half the team) regarding their “real-life” roles as husbands and fathers. He encouraged them to be “all in” (a transferred-concept from Atlantic City poker tables). All in; they got it…
From there, the All In caption drove them to the field with resolve and abandon. Defensive End Justin Tuck cited that motto in his post-game remarks after they beat the Jets, 29-14. The next week, management filled MetLife Stadium with 80,000 white towels emblazoned with those five letters. The crowd waved the towels as the team won, again… Does that make me a Giants fan?
But, then, there’s the Patriots. Jackie Slater – 20 year NFL vet with the Rams and NFL Hall-of-Famer – sits behind me in church on Sundays. His son, Matthew, will be mid-field for the coin toss in Indianapolis, as the Captain for the Patriots’ Special Teams. He’s finishing his fourth NFL season, and was All Pro this year. Tim Tebow gained the faith headlines, but Matthew has been working the fine print as the go-to guy for his New England team mates as their ongoing Bible Study leader.
To the hometown paper in Worcester, Massachusetts, he put it in perspective: “My father told me just to do everything I can to prepare myself and live with no regrets. He had a mindset that was unique. The more I play, the more appreciation I have for what he did.”
All In.Do everything you can to prepare yourself and live with no regrets. Those are terse summations of what takes a pro decades to develop and sophisticate. Yet, on the top level of the sports world there are innumerable competitors; most won’t make it to the final contest. The ones that will take the field for the top prize carry something beyond just raw talent and refined maneuvers. When you have to summon the extra umph to squeeze out the victory… what tape will you be playing for motivation?
I’m writing before the kick-off; it isn’t my norm, but I’ve got a date with my grandsons in front of a big screen this evening. Will George’s congregation of Giants win tonight? Or, will Matthew and his Patriot crew emerge from Lucas Oil Stadium with the Lombardi Trophy?
Whoever goes home with the title, some from each team will leave their pro career with what it takes to keep on winning, in life. As husbands, as fathers, as citizens, as continuing contributors to their society and to the Kingdom: they’ll live to be All In; to do everything they can to prepare themselves and to live with no regrets.
May the best men keep winning,