Armchair quarterback


It’s 5:30 AM on Tuesday and northern Virginia has seen no snow from the front moving through the region. I survived the onslaught of sleep for 2 1/2 quarters of the University of Oregon football squad’s national championship bid against the Auburn Tigers last night. I woke up, of course, to discover that a field goal from Auburn broke a tied score and the game had been decided on the last play. Small consolation to the players (for whom I feel great sympathy: what a great group of kids) and to the fans (for whom I feel somewhat less sympathy, given the propensity for a few bad apples (among a bunch of good ones) to boo at hurt players). It’s sad to know those kids gave their best effort and came up short. The fact it was a Great Defensive Game (TM) doesn’t make the loss sting any less.

A football game, like a snowstorm, is just a chain of what-ifs.  All of life comes down to this chain, rally?  This hypothetical snowstorm that’s supposed to hit today: Three days ago, weather professionals touted a 40% chance of snow. Yesterday, they were saying 90%. Today, 60%, although it’s being touted on the Weather Channel as a sure thing.  What if, like the last storm we expected, the snow starts to pile up 40 miles north, 40 miles south, and (due to an atmospheric condition unique to the Chesapeake Bay that I don’t quite understand) 40 miles east of us? Strange but possible.  The day after Christmas 2010, Millions of people in Baltimore were stranded; hundreds of thousands in Richmond.  that same storm treated the DC region to 1/4 inch of flurries that all blew away during the night. Who governs this stuff? Fate left us untouched? Chance? God? No matter the name, it leaves me just a little in awe.

The Ducks stuffed Auburn’s behemoth quarterback, Cam Newton, at Oregon’s one-yard-line. Auburn did the same thing to Oregon (on a fourth down, no less). Heart-stopping interceptions–and near-interceptions–by Cliff Harris had both sides of the stadium shouting, either in happiness, or at referees. LaMichael James was stopped about 4 inches short converting an Auburn safety into another attempt for the Ducks to get out of their own end zone. All game changers that would have led to an Oregon win.  What if Chip Kelly had called for the more-sane field goal instead of forth-and-goal? Game Oregon. What if James had stretched just another couple inches? Game Oregon.  Should have. Could have. If the boys in green had only just listened to us, things would be different. Small chinks in its armor bring down the fate-Goliath every time.

What if I went to University of Oregon (my second choice) instead of Bethany Bible College (my first choice)? Would I be writing this today?

What if a misguided and horny young Brian had ignored the alarm bells the church had soldered into my skull, that summer afternoon with my willing girlfriend in France? Would I be a father of a 24 year old?

What if I never knew Tim Kelley? I’d have never found a point of reference to start a conversation with Judi Kelley, in 1991, while standing on a stump in front of the Dining Commons.

When I pause a moment, I realize my life could be a ruin. I’m given a new choice every second of every day. Breathe in? You bet. I can’t look back with regret. I simply can’t allow the what-ifs to ruin the moments that cry out “what a miracle.”

So Oregon lost: helluva game, right to the last second, from all accounts. So I never got laid when I was 18: it sure beats having a child I never knew. So I got stuck with a brother in law whose college legacy is the fact he has more body hair than any human alive: Hell! At least I *have* a brother in law.

What if, indeed.

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3 thoughts on “Armchair quarterback”

  1. I sometimes think the whole sports world is against the Pacific Northwest including the Big Ten refs who didn’t call the tackle by Oregon’s Eddie Pleasant down in the closing minute. BY the way, I am going to comment soon on your Bethany Bill Blog, but I will put it in message to you. I don’t think everybody needs to know my thoughts..in this format I will say, I am so sorry to hear of your awful troubles at Bethany, but God’s grace is good.

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  2. Yeah! Wisdom and maturity 🙂 Beautiful things, all too rare in our culture. What is is so much better than what could have been.

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  3. Amen to that! Excellent piece of writing, Brian. I love the earnest contentedness in your tone (did I just make up a word? contentedness? Hmmm…), and I agree with your sentiments. It’s OK to wonder about the what ifs as long as we don’t dwell on them and are grateful for the blessings we have every day. A happy toast to ‘hairy brothers-in-law!’ (Sorry, Jon, but it’s true). Cheers! Keep on writing.–SH

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