In any sport, there must always be a winner and loser….and sometimes there is a tie. In any case, a crucial question that we must contemplate on and ask ourselves and our teams is: How do we react to and overcome a loss whether it is within sports or life in general?
Just as we saw in the past few weeks during the NFL Playoffs, there were winners and losers. The New England Patriots defeated the L.A. Rams in a low scoring Super Bowl 53. Sure, the Rams’ loss is one example of falling just shy of being deemed a champion but, there is one loss, in particular, which I believed touched the hearts of many people outside of the team’s own fan base. In the second round of the NFL Playoffs, the Philadelphia Eagles were handed a 20-14 loss by the New Orleans Saints.
The image of Alshon Jeffrey lying on the ground with his hands over his face, after a crucial mistake, and his teammates surrounding him to pick him will forever be engraved into our minds. Some might say the Eagles top receivers missed catch right through his hands cost the Eagles the game. There were multiple mistakes which led to the Eagles’ demise. It was just the fact that the level of significance of making that catch, in that particular moment, was so high where the Eagles and their fans felt hope and belief that this offensive drive was going to end with the Eagles scoring a touchdown to end the game and move on to the Conference Championship game. As most know, the missed catch led to an interception and Alshon Jeffery lying on the field. There is no denying that the Eagles and their fans felt that they had the victory in the grasp of their hands but, they ultimately came up short.
I am sure that Alshon Jeffery felt those same emotions but he will need to figure out how to react and overcome this mistake and loss. The process of overcoming this mistake and surviving adversity began on the field as soon as Jeffery’s teammates ran over to pick him up off the turf, when multiple teammates came over to console him, and when coaches and teammates stated that they loved him. The power of love can be an influential ingredient to persevering as Kevin Reilly, former Philadelphia Eagle and ISSCD Award recipient, explains in his book, Tackling Life: How Faith, Family, Friends, and Fortitude Kept an NFL Linebacker in the Game. Kevin Reilly leaned on his family and friends and their love and support of him to battle through his adversities. The love, trust, and support that Jeffery received and continues to receive from his family, teammates and friends will get him through this obstacle just like the rest of the Eagles roster will lean on each other to overcome this loss. How can we, as Team Chaplains, encourage our student-athletes to love and support their teammates during times of struggles?