Friday, March 30, 2012

Reflections on Brandan Davis

Last night, there was a big area wide event here in Spartanburg.  BCM along with Cru (Campus Crusade) and FCA had their monthly worship event at USC Upstate.  Last night they had a special guest speaker.  Because of this, it was promoted on all the local college campuses.  The guest speaker was former University of South Carolina Gamecock football player Brandan Davis.

Brandan has written a book "The Faithful Walk-on" that has just recently been released and is going around talking about the book and sharing his testimony and this was the first stop on his tour.  When he opened, he talked about how he has a motto to start off the day.  It is a way of reminding himself of all that God has done for him and is motivation to start off the day right.

He shared briefly about his background, growing up being a star athlete in high school and caring pretty much only about girls and football.  He talked about during a preseason fall camp one year he got really sick, cramping and throwing up.  He shared that he nearly died from that experience.  It ended up being a catalyst for eventually accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Because his grades weren't so good, he ended up going to college at Carson Newman and played football there.  He shared briefly about his time there and some of the growth that took place in his life.  He shared about how when he truly began following Christ, he changed spiritually, mentally and in knowledge of Scripture and wanting a desire to read more.  He shared several scriptures including 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Proverbs 3:5-6.

He then talked about sensing God's call to transfer to USC and the story behind initially being rejected (to the business school) and finally getting accepted to school there and being a religious studies major.  He walked on to the football team and later earned a scholarship.

He then shared about two models that he lives by.  The first is focus because there will be times of stress and it's important to keep focus on what's important.  The second is CHANCE which stands for come hard and never come easy.

One big thing that stood out was he shared about smiling.  He said that when we smile, we can let the light of Jesus shine through.  He talked about a story in the Clemson game in 2010 where a Clemson player was taking some cheap shots and such.  So after one play he took his mouthpiece out of his mouth and smiled a great big smile and said a kind word to the Clemson player.  Later, the player came up to Brandan and apologized saying that he had gotten caught up in the rivalry.  Brandan said "Yeah, we still won though," and the audience here laughed.

It was really cool to hear Brandan's story and I look forward to reading his book.  You can buy it from Amazon.  Here is the link.  It is such a blessing to hear stories like his and how God is continue to use him.  He is looking at seminairies and will be looking at starting seminary in the fall.  It was a great time last night and I hope that the students there were encouraged by Brandan's story.  I know I was.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Random Sports Reflections

*It seems that even with the NFL in the off-season, it is still dominiating headlines.  The main thing being Peyton Manning going to Denver.  After a couple of weeks of meetings with different teams, Peyton decided to go with Denver.  In some ways it wasn't surprising but in some ways it was given that the other two teams in the running was San Francisco (which was in the NFC Title game last year) and Tennessee (the state where he went to college).  The domino effect was that Tim Tebow was then traded from Denver to the New York Jets, which in and of itself was kind of a shocker given they already have a starting QB in Mark Sanchez & there was a team in Jacksonville which seemed like a great fit (not far from where Tebow went to college, could step right in and be the starter).  It will be interesting how Tebow will fit in with the Jets.  I know he'll want to be the starter but it'll be hard to supplant Sanchez unless he gets hurt or plays really really bad.  It'll also be interesting how the faith aspect will come into play given the Jeremy Lin phenomenon that took place for a few months before dying out.  Will Tebow garner as much or more than Lin did?  Will it be for a sustained period?  It's only March but there's enough stories that'll probably last until training camps start.

*I've been keeping up with March Madness and my brackets have been decent to poor.  One of these days I'll have a bracket that's like top notch.  The final four is Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas & Ohio State (out of which I consensusly picked 3, missed out with Louisville).  I do get the feeling this is shaping up to be another 2008.  That year of course Kansas beat UNC on it's way to the title game.  Kansas also faced off against a team coached by John Calipari.  Kansas wasn't thought of to win the title.  John Calipari's team had the best player in the country.  See what I mean?  Don't be surprised come Tuesday morning if it's Rock Chalk Jayhawk being bantered about.  What would be even more eerie is if Calipari then decided to take the NY Knicks job and then it's found out that Anthony Davis had some kind of academic issues and then Kentucky was put on probation like Memphis was with Derrick Rose.  Food for thought...

*The MLB regular season started today in Japan with the Mariners and the A's.  I caught the game from about the 6th inning on.  A couple of things:  1) I love watching live sports in the morning.  It's nice to be able to tune in and see sports live while eating breakfast or getting ready for work.  2.) I am getting old.  There was a statistic given during the game that Ichiro was the first M's player to get 4 hits in an opening day game since Ken Griffey Jr. did it in 1990.  1990 as in 22 years ago.  Yes I am getting old.  3.) For what it's worth, the M's are in 1st place.  161 games to go but it's a good start.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Reflections on Peyton Manning

This week the big sports story was Peyton Manning being released by the Indianapolis Colts.  This is a huge deal in the world of the NFL as Manning, who up until this past season, had taken every snap since being drafted #1 by the Colts in 1998.  He had been the face of the franchise and had let them to 2 Super Bowls winning one of those.

But the Colts, looking to the future, decided to cut ties with Manning.  In some ways, it was expected to happen.  But when the word came down on Wednesday, it still had a little bit of shock to it.  Listening to the press conference, you could hear the emotion in Peyton's voice when he talked about the fans and how much he'll miss playing in the city of Indianapolis.  He handled himself well and was a great example in how to handle a situation like that.

Something that did strike me was afterwards, I was listening on the radio to Colin Cowherd (not really by choice, the sports radio station in Spartanburg has him on there) and he had on former NFL QB Trent Dilfer and they were talking about Peyton and the situation of leaving the Colts.  Trent mentioned about how 98% (or 99%) of athletes leave the game bitter.  I thought that was sad.  Bitterness is a harsh thing to hold onto.  Nothing good ever comes out of holding bitterness.  Is it fun to lose your job or have a relationship end or something negative happen?  No, but at the same time harboring bitterness isn't good either.  As a follower of Jesus, I'm reminded again and again how Jesus said that it wasn't easy but He did say that we wouldn't be alone.

I wish Peyton the best.  I still root for him even though he was on a rival team for so many years because of his Tennessee Vols roots.  I hope that he lands in Seattle (wishful thinking) but wherever he lands I hope that he has a good couple of years left in his career.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2012 Major League Baseball Predictions

After a year off from MLB predictions, I'm back.  On the down side, this will be the first MLB season since 2004 that I will not be living in an MLB city.  On the plus side, both teams that I strongly root for will be improved from last season.  Will that make a difference as far as making the playoffs?  That remains to be seen.  Of course, like all my predictions (especially preseason ones) this is a mix of what I think and what will actually happen.

AL East:
Tampa Bay (division winner)
Boston (Wild Card #1)
NY Yankees

AL Central:
Detroit (division winner)
Kansas City (Wild Card #2)
Chicago White Sox

AL West:
Texas (division winner)
Anaheim (LA) Angels

NL East:
Philadelphia (division winner)
Atlanta (Wild Card #1)
NY Mets

NL Central:
St. Louis (division winner)
Cincinnati (Wild Card #2)
Chicago Cubs

NL West:
Arizona (division winner)
San Francisco
LA Dodgers
San Diego

ALCS:  Kansas City vs. Detroit
NLCS:  St. Louis vs. Philadelphia
World Series:  Detroit vs. St. Louis
Champs:  Detroit

AL MVP:  Prince Fielder
NL MVP:  Matt Holiday
AL Cy Young:  Justin Verlander
NL Cy Young:  Roy Halladay