Going Forward | What I Learned From Pro Football

by Frank

football action

Photo by Michael Oh

I love football. It is by far my favorite sport to watch.

Why I Love Pro Football

Football is a game of centimeters, inches and yards. It is a game where the difference between winning and losing is a matter determined the momentum of going forward. Not only is football a game of space but it is a game of strategy and precision. It is not always full of 99 yard touchdown passes, unless your name is Wes Welker or Tom Brady, but each offensive and defensive possession tells a story. Some stories are short, some stories are long, but they are all great.

The Challenges of Going Forward in Pro Football

Players have to earn every yard to get down the field just to get a chance to score. It is not uncommon to see a team get one yard away from getting a first down, only to see them punt the ball away because they can’t afford the risk if they don’t cross the threshold. I have seen running backs desperately push through a pile of players with outstretched arms to get the ball over the invisible yellow line viewers see on their television screens.

I have seen players dive for the end zone, drag their tip toes on the grass to maintain possession of the ball for a reception before falling out of bounds, stiff arm and aggressively push away the hands and bodies of defenders trying to stop their momentum all for a chance to put their team ahead.

Every play is a physical battle and not every possession puts points on the board.

Teaching My Son About Pro Football

Just the other day, Ian and I was watching the Monday Night Cowboys vs. Redskins game enjoying every second of it. Ian loves football more than I do and he doesn’t even completely understand the game. All he knows is people get hit and they score touchdowns.

As we were watching the game, I noticed he was getting discouraged that Dallas couldn’t make it to the end zone. After every play he screamed, one of the following statements:

“I wish they would just score already.”

“What is taking them so long?”

“Why does the other team keep tackling them?”

“Stop running the ball, can’t they see it’s not working?”

As I sat by and watched the blood vessels pop out of my son’s head, I noticed he was ready for the excitement but did not enjoy watching the journey. I had to explain to him how the team on offense has 4 downs to try to make it 10 yards. I demonstrated to him why a play that only got 3 yards was still successful. I walked him through the progression of play calling and strategic offensive alignments. At the end of all my jawing, he looked at me like I was nuts.

I had just wasted 15 freaking minutes. 🙂 The good news is, it got me thinking.

Going Forward Requires Patience

There are so many times in our lives where we get to the point where we want to score the touchdown and win the big game. Often we get so caught up with trying to put points on the board, that we end up trying to throw a hail marry in the first possession of the first quarter. In our desperate pursuit of success we take unnecessary risks going for the big play when we only need 10 yards to keep the ball in our possession.

As long as we are going forward, we have a fighting chance to win the game. And if anyone knows football like I know football, time of possession is the best way to control the game.

Applying the Aggression of Pro Football to Life

Life is not going to give us what we want all the time. We have got to get aggressive.

  • The next time there is an obstacle blocking you from where you are trying to go, lower your shoulders and push through it.
  • The next time life tries to push you out of bounds, drag those feet on the turf and fight for possession.
  • The next time you are coming up just a little short, have some heart and outstretch those arms and reach for it.
  • The next time you feel consumed by your circumstances like you can’t get free, take your arm and ferociously push off the things that hold you captive.

I have learned a lot from pro football that I never expected. I vow from this day on that no matter what the scoreboard says, I will keep going forward.

Life is a physical, spiritual, and emotional battle. Do you think you have what it takes to win the game?