It’s been years since I’ve really followed football, so it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced the uplift that can come from viewing a struggle on that modern day field of battle.
Any thinking person knows that professional sports have their share of silliness, corruption and irrelevance. On the other hand, anyone with a heart has to be able to embrace that glory humans can exhibit in pursuit of a physical and mental victory, sometimes over an adversary and just as often over themselves. We saw both last Saturday.
This was a nail-biter game with both the Saints and the 49ers making stunning touchdowns and taking turns in the lead. The moment of glory came after the Saints swiped a lead from the 49ers putting the score in their favor 32-29, with only 1:37 left in the game.
My mother deflated immediately and threw her hands in the air, resigned to her team losing. I firmly stated, “It’s not over yet. They can still do it.” I’d seen it done before. This team seemed determined enough.
And they were. Quarterback Alex Smith quickly worked his team downfield with help from tightend Vernon Davis, a bad boy from previous seasons whom former 49ers Coach Mike Singletary had thrown off the field for not being a team player. Smith managed two pass completions in that 1:37 to Davis, the final one a 14-yard which won the game and had Mom and I screaming on the couch.
So, besides a thrilling game of football, what did I get from that hour in front of the television?
Number one – the reminder to never, ever give up. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” It isn’t poetry, but it’s one of the truest things in this old world. We may struggle for years, droop with exhaustion, watch as another seems to snatch away our victory. It is in those moments that human potential comes to the fore and pushes us to be more; to reach inside and pull it out of the bag. We do it over and over again. So, we must remember, as individuals, to never give up.
Number Two – people do change. Vernon Davis’ career had been hampered by a self-centeredness and this game showed he could indeed be a team player and rise above himself. He cried at the end of the game, seemingly from relief and humility as much as joy. He had done it. He had taken the ball over the line to win for everyone. He had changed.
It’s never over until it’s over. We all have that that 1:37 in our back pocket every day to push through; to make it happen. We just have to keep going and believe.