Shining in Defeat
My Dad always used to tell me that “God works in mysterious ways.” I always accepted his affirmation as being true, but looking back now, I realized that I never really gave much thought to it…until the past few years. I’ve come to believe that Dad was right; God does indeed work in mysterious ways. And He will manifest Himself through us, if we will only let Him…
This past Thursday night, January 7th, the University of Alabama football team faced the University of Texas team in the Collegiate National Championship game…Alabama’s top-ranked Crimson Tide against the second-ranked Texas Longhorns.
The game was being billed as the game of the year. Both teams entered the game undefeated, with sparkling 13-0 records. Both team’s defensive units were among the top five in the country. Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban, and Texas’ coach, Mack Brown, were considered to be among the best in their field. The winner of the game would be declared the best team in the country; the National Champion. BIG game.
And just in case the meeting of these two talented teams wasn’t enough to draw your attention, there was a personal matchup within the matchup; a “mano-e-mano” kind of thing, if you will. A couple of weeks earlier, Alabama running back Mark Ingram had received the Heisman Trophy, which is given each year to the best college football player in America. One of the runners-up was Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, a sentimental favorite who had finished a close second in the Heisman vote last year. Consequently, many eyes were going to be focused on “Ingram vs. McCoy”, candidate vs. candidate; the game within the game. Which player would perform better in front of a national television audience, in the biggest game of the year? Who would lead his team to victory?
The anticipation and “hype” leading up to the game was unbelievable. Texas had last won the title in 2005, while it had been seventeen years earlier, in 1992, since Alabama had won. Which team would prevail? Which team would be crowned “King” for the 2009 season?
The final score was…
I’m not gonna tell you what it was; you can find that out for yourself, if you’re interested enough. You see, the final outcome of the game is not what is important here; it’s something else entirely.
There was, however, one play in the game that I want to tell you about…
It was early in the game and Texas was driving towards Alabama’s goal line. Colt McCoy took the snap from center and was running to the left, looking for some room to turn up-field and gain some yardage against Alabama’s defense. McCoy was tackled by an Alabama player and was stopped for no gain on the play.
The next television shot was of Colt McCoy, running off of the field towards the sidelines, motioning that he needed attention.
Colt McCoy never played another down during the rest of the football game. On a routine tackle, during a routine play, Colt McCoy’s shoulder had taken a routine hit, and the consequences were anything but routine. The Texas team doctor and trainers had taken Colt to the dressing room for x-rays and a few other tests, which all proved to be negative. It didn’t matter; Colt’s arm just wouldn’t work. He couldn’t throw the football with any force or accuracy. He spent the remainder of the game on the sidelines, as a spectator, pulling for his teammates.
After the game.
At this point, for you to really appreciate my message to you today, I have to tell you that my team, Alabama, won the football game. But I also have to tell you that in this man’s humble opinion, Colt McCoy won the day.
Before I continue, I want to talk about a dream for just a moment. Though I’ve never met him, I’ll bet that growing up Colt McCoy had a “quarterback” dream, perhaps several of them…to be a starting quarterback…to throw a touchdown pass to win a game…to play football in college…to lead his team to a national championship. Those kinds of dreams require hard work, dedication, commitment, and preparation; years of it.
Immediately after game, one of the T.V. reporters covering the game caught up with Colt seeking an interview, which he graciously agreed to do. I’m sitting there thinking, “This kid has to be hurting on the inside. I can’t believe that this person is gonna question him about his thoughts. Not now.” Of course, that’s exactly what she proceeded to do….
“Colt, what was it like for you to watch this game, your last game in a Texas uniform on the sidelines?” questioned the reporter.
I watched and listened, as this 23 year old young man, this kid, struggled to fight back tears as he searched for words to answer the question that had been posed to him. Several seconds elapsed as he stood there, shaking his head, doing everything that was in him to keep his composure. Finally he began to speak…
“I love this game, and I’ve done everything I can to contribute to my team. We made it this far, and it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to play. I would’ve given everything I had to be out there with my team, but congratulations to Alabama. I love the way our team fought…. I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do. God is in control of my life and I know that if nothing else, I’m standin’ on the Rock.”
That’s the best way to describe the way I felt after hearing the remarks of this young man, this soldier of God. He’d been preparing for that game for years, chasing the dream that he probably had since he was a kid…being the quarterback on the best team in the country. In the blink of an eye, it was over. He didn’t even get his chance.
This brave young man had every reason in the world to be frustrated, to feel that he had been somehow “cheated” of his chance, to be angry, to be mad at God. I mean, who would have blamed him for being bitter?
When most may have taken the opportunity to complain about the hand that had been dealt to them, Colt McCoy rose above himself to share what was on his heart, to praise his opponent, and to give glory to God.
Suddenly, the taste of victory wasn’t so sweet for me. I mean, I was glad that my team won, but I was more proud of young Mr. McCoy.
In what was probably one of his darkest hours, Colt McCoy’s light in defeat was brighter than it ever would have been in victory.
You were so right, Dad. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
See you next week.