Devotional: November 14th
The Heisman Trophy Award was handed out recently with the naming of Reggie Bush of the University of Southern California as the recipient. This was one of the more hotly contested trophies in years with three players running neck and neck. Bush's play in the last few games of the year kicked him over the top in most sports writers' minds. Odd thing is that winning the Heisman doesn't always mean superstardom in the pro ranks. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that advises the pro football teams to look elsewhere for their stars of tomorrow.
True, recently we have seen Carson Palmer rise to shine rather brightly. And others might point out such names as Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Desmond Howard. Try these names on for size; Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Rashaan Salaam, Charlie Ward, Gino Torretta,, Ty Detmer, Andre Ware, Pat Sullivan, Gary Beban, Steve Spurrier (yes, THAT Steve Spurrier), and my all-time favorite, Terry Baker who dropped off the pro radar faster than a stealth fighter jet.
A number of things contribute to the failure of Heisman Trophy winners to make a big splash in the pros. The games are different for one thing. The offensive and defensive schemes employed in college are far simpler than those run by most pro teams. The professional game is played at a much faster pace than that of college and things have to be decided much more quickly. The level of competition is higher in the pros than in the college ranks. Colleges have a cupcake or two on their schedule that help to bolster ratings. Add to that the fact that you are more likely to see a handful of loaded football teams in the college ranks as opposed to the pros making it easier for a college player to shine.
For every Heisman winner hoping to find fame and fortune in the National Football League there are thirty more who are talented and solid players whose desires lie elsewhere. They are the ones who have parlayed their scholarships into degrees that lead them into beneficial professions where people's lives are improved and some even saved. They are the ones for whom football was but a brief passion that burned and then faded as life imposed its needs to them. They are the doctors, engineers and researchers whose contributions have made life better for their fellow man.
Is that not the mission of the church? What we have to offer is eternal life. But how do we package it? Do we package it in an elite manner emphasizing the few who are excellent or do we make it the most needful thing in the world by excelling at loving those in need? When Jesus returns His questions will be few. I can hear Him asking, "Have you helped those in need?" Our response determines eternity. If we have, then we have served Jesus through them and will hear Him say, "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matthew 25:34 That's a trophy we can live with.
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