By Del Duduit
Ever had one of those days?
I mean one where you just want to crawl into a hole and hide forever? I’ll get to that in a moment.
This is Super Bowl week, which brings about endless discussions and never-ending debates on who the greatest teams are and the best players ever to play in the game.
Who is the greatest quarterback in Super Bowl history? Is it Tom Brady? Joe Montana? Peyton Manning? Or, who made the most spectacular play ever in the game’s legacy? Most people remember William “The Refrigerator” Perry plowing into the end zone, or Marcus Allen’s ridiculous razzle-dazzle TD scamper to lead Oakland over Washington.
These are subjects of arguments for years to come, and they should take place around a big bowl of nachos and cheese.
I’m excited this year because I have the honor of going to some pre-Super Bowl festivities in the Twin City this weekend.
I was star-struck as a kid by the image of America’s Team – the Dallas Cowboys. I loved to watch Roger Staubach hit Drew Pearson for a touchdown or witness the blur of a Tony Dorsett run.
But mostly, I was captivated when Dallas knocked off Denver in Super Bowl XII 27-10. I was 12 and excited to watch My team win THE GAME.
But the next year was different.
Dallas faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII in Miami, Florida. The game is still regarded as one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever played.
Staubach led Dallas down the field for a potential game-tying drive. It was third down, and the Cowboys trailed 21-14, but they had the ball on the Pittsburgh 10-yard line.
The heroic quarterback faked a handoff and found Jackie Smith all alone in the end zone. His pass was right on target. The ball hit Smith between the number 8 and the number 1. But the future Hall of Famer dropped the sure-fire touchdown.
I’ll never forget the way his body went stiff as a board and he yelled in anguish. I remember watching Staubach vent as he walked off the field to give way to a field goal.
Vern Lundquist who called the game on TV said the famous words, “Bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.” At the time, I was furious and distraught. “How could he miss that one?” I must have thought. “I could have caught that pass.”
The Steelers went on to win the game 35-31.
Jackie had one of those days I described earlier. But for him, there was no hole big enough in which to hide. The entire world saw his mistake. And everyone who watched saw the outcome. Of course, he wasn’t to blame entirely for the loss, but his dropped pass was a big blunder. All the momentum Dallas built up vanished.
Smith enjoyed a wonderful NFL career and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. But most people remember him for that one lousy dropped pass. They don’t recall the five Pro-Bowl appearances or four All-Pro teams or his 480 receptions and 40 touchdowns. When you google his name, The Drop appears.
The play almost ruined his life. He turned to alcohol, and depression found its way into his mind. He’s good now, but he endured a lot of pain and took a long road to get over his grief.
Everyone drops the ball once in a while. I’ve made some huge mistakes in my game of life, and you probably have too. But the difference is the entire world does not see the errors you and I made.
Maybe no one knows about your mistake except you and God. But you made it nonetheless.
How would you deal with it if millions of people saw your dropped pass?
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
I hope every Cowboys fan forgave Jackie for his blunder. He didn’t want it to happen that way. He wanted to make that catch and put his team in position to win the title and be the hero.
He had to let the misery go and move on. It took him years to overcome the disappointment. The play happened on Jan. 21, 1979, and he finally opened up to Sports Illustrated 37 years later.
He said in the article he felt like he let everyone down. He endured emotional pain and threats from crazy fans. He retired after that game.
No matter what you have done in life to mess up, there is redemption and forgiveness.
Consider these steps:
- Acknowledge you are wrong. There is no place for selfishness.
- Think through the pain. Be honest about how you feel about your situation.
- Look in the mirror. Sometimes this can be hard to do, but it’s a must. Take responsibility. “...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” ROMANS 14: 10
- Know God can forgive you.
- Go to prayer and seek the ultimate reward. Accept the challenge and let the Lord give you a fresh start.
What may seem like a Super Bowl mistake can be turned into a Hall of Fame moment for you in the end. The only way to overcome life’s dropped passes is to let God put it behind you. He will erase the replays and act like it never happened.
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There is no point in reliving the moment because it will not help the cause one bit. In fact, it could lead to more heartache.
If you have missed a golden opportunity to score big in life and failed, it’s okay. Get up off the turf and go back to the huddle. Let the Lord call the next play, and be ready for another pass to come your way.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
There is a good chance you can punch it in for the win and claim the victory. You can overcome your mistakes.
Can you relate to Jackie? Have you messed up before? How have you handled the grief? Did you let God take over your downs and your possessions?
Enjoy the game if you choose to watch this Sunday.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.