I like football. The pageantry of college football is unparalleled, yet my favorite time of the year is the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. The tension and the drama of a single-loss elimination, winner-take-all tournament has no peer. This past Sunday I did the small gathering thing with friends, replete with abundant snacks, drinks and the obligatory pizza and wings. We gathered around the tube for the anticipated snooze-worthy blowout by the heavily favored New England Patriots. The New York Giants were almost two touchdown underdogs. I gave them a less than zero chance at the upset. I truly wanted them to win, mostly because I can’t stand the Patriots, but I knew they wouldn’t. So how did I know? Because of a little-known (read: fabricated) universal law. I call it the Law of Inevitability of the NFL Dynasty. This law is built upon the precedence of past dynasties, such as the Packers of the 60’s, the Steelers of the 70’s, the 49ers of the 80’s, the Cowboys of the 90’s and of course the Patriots of the 00’s. The LENFLD states that a team that is considered the dynasty of its era will not under any circumstance lose in a Super Bowl. It has never happened in NFL history and I had no reason to believe the 18-0 record-breaking New England Patriots would be denied their place in history.
Early in the 4th quarter the Giants took a 10-7 lead. My friends and family started believing they would shock the world. I warned them gravely that the Giants would only break their hearts. Almost prophetically, the gears of the Law of Inevitability set in motion the Patriots’ march toward destiny. They methodically moved the chains down the field and scored with ease. Only two minutes and change remained on the game clock. I watched in quiet desperation.
Even after the Giants’ David Tyree secured the ball to his helmet on that improbable 3rd down conversion, I still didn’t believe destiny had forsaken the warriors in silver and blue. Sure, I jumped up and got excited with the rest of the clan, but I quickly doused my own fire with a dour, “They’re still going to break our hearts.” But now my heart was involved. Hope stirred in me for the first time all game long, despite how carefully I had guarded my emotions – yet I still did not truly believe. “The law cannot be violated” I said, inwardly despising the cold, calculating cruelty of the universal, inviolable principle that mercilessly crushes the hopes of every underdog.
However, when Eli tossed that fade to Plaxico, who stood alone in the endzone, I just about turned a backflip. Yes, hope had entirely seized my heart. David’s stone had embedded itself in the cranium of Goliath. The giant of all giants had been felled by the little Giants that could – or so it appeared. The Law of Inevitability tapped me on the shoulder, reminding me that time yet remained on the clock. LENFLD forced images into my mind of the regular season Colts game and of the Patriots earlier encounter against these same Giants. Both times the Pats quickly erased double digit deficits to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. My shoulders slumped and my head drooped. “They’re still going to break our hearts” I mumbled. “It’s inevitable.” A chorus of “you’re crazy!” quickly followed my portent of doom.
The indomitable Tom Brady took the field and my hope fizzled. He looked as calm and cool as ever, and why not? He had the best receiver in football, one who could gallop like a gazelle right past the best athletes the Giant’s secondary had to offer. The evil genius Bill Belicheck sporting the bright red hoodie, vividly contrasting his typically bland gray personality, stood formulating his masterful battle plan for last second victory on the sideline. I swallowed hard and closed one eye. I couldn’t bear to watch the haughty, arrogant team of destiny claim their 4th championship ring in seven years on a last second miracle. They did not deserve the accolades that go with being the only team to go 19-0. They were not worthy of the title ‘Greatest NFL Team of All-Time’ which had already been bestowed on them by many a pro football prognosticator. They were cheaters! Caught in the act of video taping the Jets sideline defensive signals no-less. In the days prior to this year’s Super Bowl, rumors rumbled around the league that before Super Bowl XXXVI someone on the Patriots staff videotaped the Rams final walk through practice.
I was tempted to pray to the Lord that justice be served and the Patriots pay for their iniquities, that the Proverb be fulfilled, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall’. But I didn’t imagine that God cared much for football games – until Brady’s desperation 4th down pass bounced harmlessly on the turf. David had severed the head of the filthy Philistine! I knew then that God had intervened in history to violate the inviolable Law of Inevitability of the NFL Dynasty. There can be no other possible explanation for the collapse of the invincible Patriots. The highest scoring team in NFL history was held to only 14 points! Are you kidding me? Divine providence has its fingerprints all over this unprecedented underdog victory. The prophet Plaxico predicted the Giants would win and the Patriots would only score 17 points! Not bad for a part-time prophesier. Eli Manning, the quarterback who earlier in the season was despised and rejected of men, rose up Messiah-like to deliver his people to the promised land. He has now become the poster-child for all down-trodden underdogs everywhere.
The bible has flawlessly prophesied the rise and fall of the nations throughout world history. I believe the scriptures also give a detailed account of coach Belichick’s fall from grace.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O coach of the decade, son of Parcells! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the teams of the nation low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to Canton; above the stars of Lombardi I will set my throne on high; I will sit among the busts of bronze in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like Noll and Walsh.’ But you are brought down in Arizona, to the far reaches of the desert sand. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the NFL tremble, who shook the cities of the nation, (Isa 14:12-16)
The collapse of Tom Brady was prophesied as well.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground at least 5 times; I exposed you before D-linemen, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your play you profaned your stadium; so I brought blitzing linebackers out from your midst; they consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the field in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.” (Eze 28:17-19)
The Lord my God is glorified not only in his boundless mercy but also by his justice and wrath on the ungodly!