Even if you’re not a football fan, there might be something here for you. You can certainly appreciate the weather, and there is no prettier setting for college football than a gorgeous October afternoon. The match-up on such a day in Athens this past Saturday was between the Tennessee Vols and the Georgia Bulldogs. My house was full of orange people, and from the moment of kickoff, we hung on every play. Finally, the fourth quarter started winding down and ticking away its final seconds, and we really thought we’d won. Then, with only 10 of those seconds left, Georgia scored a go ahead touchdown. Aw man!! Game over, right? Except, with 4 seconds still on the clock, our quarterback found his receiver in the end zone at the end of a 43 yard Hail Mary pass. Final score: Tennessee 34, Georgia 31.
The place went wild. My house and phone went wild. Everybody’s Facebook lit up. Charlie Daniels went down to Georgia. It was one more great game and, if you’re a Tennessee fan, a fantastic one! But bigger than the game (okay, Charles, I know you don’t think there’s any such thing, but then again you’re already there : )….bigger than the game, is whatever pushed those teams to the brink and beyond of success. At various times throughout the 60 minutes of play, we thought we’d lost. Then we thought we’d won. Then we thought we’d lost again. I’m sure the Dawgs felt the same. At times, we all feel behind. Beaten. Beat up. But neither of our teams ever stopped. Adversity? Try another play. Dropped ball? Throw another pass. Tackled? Run harder or block better next time.
Robert Neyland, former head football coach at the University of Tennessee, is credited with a ton of impressive stuff, including creating seven “Game Maxims” that many coaches use, and that Tennessee players still recite today. One of these maxims is this: If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.
Sometimes when things go against us, our best move is to find a place for reflection. But that won’t work in football, and there are times when it won’t work for us because we just need to not let up, to put on more steam.