February 2, 2015
Phil says six more weeks, but the chill in Seattle may last longer.
In case you’re on headline overload, the folks in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania have already finished up their annual tradition with their local vermin-of-note. Groundhogs are classified by Farmers’ Almanac as a pest/rodent/varmit, but don’t raise that distinction with the folks in Punxsutawney.
For 364 days every year, their diet and burrowing make them a nuisance to farmers and gardeners who would prefer to eradicate, but on Ground Hog Day, they become the furry favorite. Ol’ Phil is given his 15-minutes-of-fame as his natural talent – coming out of his hole to see his shadow – becomes a national fascination. This morning, he came out, saw his shadow… and called it a day. Six more weeks of winter, or so the legend goes.
It’ll run longer than that, if you happen to find yourself in line at Starbucks in Seattle behind Pete Carroll. Ask him about his play call – with seconds to go – and the logic behind the decision: on the one yard line, second down, three time-outs left… and Marshawn Lynch in your backfield. The choice I had between the Honeybaked Ham and the chicken biscuits at the Super Bowl Party was tougher than the one Pete had in front of him: give Lynch the ball, and tell him to hold on tight while he won the game!
Instead, it was Malcolm Butler’s opportunity of a lifetime. He had been burned one game-minute earlier when Seahawk Jermaine Kearse made the reception of a lifetime, at the 33 yard line. Circus clowns can’t juggle balls any better than Kearse did in front of the millions who were not looking for their shadows, but watching for the officials’ call. A great reception, but it was New England’s Butler who stepped into the spotlight of Super Bowl history and cast his own shadow with his interception.
There’s no way to calculate the office pools and side bets, but the above-the-table wagers made in Vegas had to be huge. In last year’s contest between Seattle and Denver, $120 million was in play; yesterday’s action had to top that. Some are calling it the Greatest Super Bowl, ever; some are calling Pearse’s catch the Greatest Reception, ever. The term “Worst Goal Line Play Call, ever” is bouncing around the Google World as we speak…
Next month, players from across the NFL will gather – with their wives – as Pro Athletes Outreach helps them develop strategies to help them win in life. Guys from Seattle and New England will be there, along with hundreds of their competitors. There will be Super Bowl rings all over the room, but games past and future won’t be the agenda on the multiple-day program. The common denominator for the assembled will be the part of their life that is far more than a game: their faith in Jesus Christ will be the unifying value that is the great equalizer. They believe that the shadow cast by the Cross – 2000 years ago – is far more predictive than Phil’s shadow this morning…
There were Christians on both sidelines yesterday – with pads and helmets – at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Whose side was God on? Who was He cheering for?
Joshua was doing his scouting trip to Jericho – just before the Jews vs Jericho Super Bowl kicked off, about 3700 seasons ago – when he ran into an armed military leader who wasn’t wearing a jersey denoting his team loyalties: “Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’ ‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’” (Joshua 5:13-14).
When God comes into our world, he doesn’t come to take sides; He comes to take over. Victories deliver trophies; metal, wood and crystal don’t begin to compare with the living prizes He earned with his come-from-behind play at the Resurrection…