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The pick at the stick

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Monday Night Football was not your typical game. This past Monday’s game was a farewell. As a native San Franciscan, I watched every moment of coverage with pride, as it was Candlestick Park’s final ever to be held, regular season game. With each video montage of the many famous players, owners, and feats of athleticism, as well as footage of the Loma Prieta earthquake that interrupted the Battle of the Bay World Series, the emotion built. By game time, the scene was set for an emotional sendoff.

Odds makers felt that this game was going to be a slam-dunk for San Francisco to beat Atlanta. Thankfully, odds makers do not have the final say, as the excitement would have been for naught. To the chagrin of any San Francisco fan, the first half of the game, Atlanta dominated. For those on social media, either fans were seeing messages of encouragement, or taunts from friends who did not want the Niners to win. By half time, the fever of a tight game had reached its pitch, fueled by a strong desire for the glory of Candlestick Park to be set in history.

Whatever happened in the locker room for the San Francisco team did the trick. They came back to the field on a mission. For most of the second half, they dominated and were going into the final minutes of the game ahead by 10 points. For anyone who does not follow football, that means that Atlanta had to score, at minimum, two times to tie or to win. Either way, with only minutes left in the game that would be a tremendous fete. However, with guts and strength of professional athletes, odds are broken. Atlanta set out to break those odds, and was almost nearly successful!

With 1:10 left on the clock, Atlanta was in breathing distance of a game-winning touchdown. There was not a fan watching at the ‘Stick, on TV or online around the world, who did not whisper, “We need an interception”. It would not be surprising that every player, coach and even the owners had whispered the same motto. Thus with that whispered desire, NaVorro Bowman snared a Matt Ryan pass deflected by Tramaine Brock. Bowman turned the interception into a game-clinching 89-yard touchdown return. The last regular season play for the San Francisco Forty Niners in their retiring home field was an 89-yard, touchdown return. Even Hollywood had to be impressed with this ending.

Every angle of the winning play was replayed, dissected and analyzed, which revealed some important aspects. NaVorro Bowman had made errors in the earlier part of the game. He felt down and out; and had even approached team leadership asking them not to give up on him. Bowman was reassured of his position and given another chance. This is much like the walk of faith for a Christian. Our lives are filled with mistakes, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled obligations; yet the Lord never gives up on us. He does not remove from our position, but reminds us of what He has planned for us. He has great plans and hope for us; however, we must not give up. Daily we are challenged to run the race to win! No one trains to lose, they train to win.

Something else noteworthy is that Bowman did not run down that field by himself. He had defenders who ran alongside of him making sure that no one stopped him from running into that end zone and scoring the game winning points. While it seems the way of our generation to be able to do it all on our own, it is rarely a successful formula. A great Scripture reminds us, that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. However, just ahead of those famous words is this: Ecclesiastes 4:12 “One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken.” Going just a few lines back in the chapter and you see, Ecclesiastes 4:9 "Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do. 10 Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn’t have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him! 11 Or suppose two people lie down together. Then they’ll keep warm. But how can one person keep warm alone?”

NaVorro Bowman is an All Pro inside linebacker who has spent his life preparing for the very moment now named, “The Pick at the Stick”, but he had challenges along the way as well as defenders to help him reach the goal.

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