The life-changing magic of never giving up…
I can’t believe it’s playoff time again.
I can’t believe I care...
(See what I did there?)
If I’m watching a sport, one of my kids is playing. Or it’s the last 5 minutes of a college basketball game… But I’m talking about football (can you believe it, Dad?). Hang with me though, if you’re a hater. There’s a point.
Up here in Washington, they get a little excited about their Seahawks. And it’s a little contagious. Okay, a lot contagious. And not just because I live with some serious fans.
There are friendships forged in the hardest of times. When we’re together, our conversations are often about the nearest and dearest to our hearts — our families, our faith, our prayers. Football doesn’t fit.
But last January, we talked about the game.
Over tea. Over coffee. Over lunch…
And we might have gotten a little teary about 3:52 and 19 to 7.
If you’re a Seattle Seahawks fan, you know what I mean.
On January 18, 2015, chances are, if you live in Seattle, you listened to the conference playoff game on the radio because your power was out. If you were lucky enough to have TV, you kind of wished you didn’t. Because it was bad. Too many turnovers. Too painful to watch.
Chances are you reminded yourself we’re a second half team and then you got giddy because the guy who’s supposed to hold the ball for the kicker threw it instead to a guy you’d never seen before — a trick play like kids do in pickup games on playgrounds — and it worked. (This is what it sounded like on Seattle radio.) You dared to believe…and then…another interception.
The clock ticked away. Fail after fail.
Chances are, you turned off the radio once Steve Raible began to sound hopeless. Or you changed the TV channel. Or you left the stadium…
With 5 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks had a .1% chance of winning.
Point One Percent.
The odds were decidedly NOT in their favor.
The Seahawks got the ball again with 3:52 left to play in the game. And they had to get two touchdowns in order to win.
It seemed impossible. And it was. (see graph for statistical proof)
But when the Seahawks got the ball again, with 3:52 left in the game and the score was 19 to 7, something changed.
Marshawn Lynch moved up the field 14 yards in those golden shoes and suddenly, it was on. And Kam Chancellor was running down the sidelines yelling to Russell Wilson that Doug is open! Throw it to Doug! like he’s 14 years old. And you saw the team light up with him. And then Russell Wilson ran in for the touchdown with 2:13 left in the game.
And the strangely sad, silent crowd — normally infamous for their volume — rallied, too. Even while the commentators were claiming the victory for the Packers. How awesome is it that even though we’re going to lose this game, they’re not giving up? We said to ourselves. What a great example for the children.
And then, my goodness. A rookie gets the ball back in an onside kick. And now you dared to hope, not breathing at all. And holy cow, when those gold-soled feet ran 24 yards to score ANOTHER touchdown with just 95 seconds left in the game and you could hear the whole neighborhood cheer because what is even happening??
And then, a desperation pass as Wilson ran out of time and threw the ball up on his way down but the other Willson miraculously caught it and put the Seahawks ahead by 3 points.
Are you kidding me? (that’s my Steve Raible impression, right there)
But wait. Nope. Way too much time left… funny how that happens…and the Packers wanted it so bad. And now the game is tied and going into overtime and you just. want. it. to. be. over. Because good grief, you DIDN’T EVEN CARE. And now you do. And the tension of overtime is way too much…
But Seattle’s so awake now in overtime. Wilson to Lynch. Wilson to Baldwin. Wilson to Lynch. Wilson to Baldwin. And then a beautiful thing…
Every time Russell Wilson threw to Jermaine Kearse in that game it failed. Every. Time. All four interceptions were intended for Kearse. But both Wilson and Kearse have the guts to try again.
Chances are, if you’re a Seahawks fan, you maybe cried just a bit when the guy who’d played the worst game of life up til a few minutes before hit his knees and gave God the glory. Because you know he must have prayed that ball into Kearse’s hands for the win. And maybe you cried a little more when he said he wished his dad had been there to see it.
Chances are, when the shock wore off and the win sank in, you realized that you just saw something happen in real life that only happens in the movies.
And you started thinking about the things you think only have a fraction of a percent of turning out well.
About the hard things. The times you’ve failed and can’t bear to try again. The times you’ve wanted to give up on that kid, that man because chances are the chances are impossible and the odds are against.
I wonder as I write this, What sparked that unbelievable Seattle comeback? What fueled it? Was it the 12th Man? Was it their roar of encouragement at the slightest hint of turning things around? Was it the injured superstar players who refused to leave the game? Was it Pete Carroll, good old positive Pete who didn’t give up on Russell Wilson and pull him out of the game?Was it Russell Wilson who just kept at it over and over until he got it right?
Everyone loves a comeback, but not everyone has the guts to believe it can happen and see it through to the end.
Sometimes, you just need to see with your own eyes and feel the impossible.
That’s what we said over tea. Over coffee. Over lunch. Even if it’s football. Because it’s not really about the game at all.
It’s about hope. About how it’s never over til it’s over. About how the impossible CAN happen in real life. About how encouragement may come from the most unlikely places. About how even the strongest fall and have to pick themselves up and keep on fighting. About how what you believe about yourself affects your actions. It’s about throwing the ball one more time to a guy who’s missed over and over and that one more time is the most important time of all but you’re giving him another chance.
It’s about never leaving the game early.
Never give up. Never. Ever. Ever. Not on yourself. Not on that friend. And mama, don’t ever give up on your kid.
It may take perseverance. It may take a miracle. But comebacks do happen and they are beautiful.
P.S. GO ‘HAWKS!
(12th Man Flag from Seattle Seahawks http://www.seahawks.com/wallpaper)