Several years ago, I was on a weekend get-away with a large group of people. No one could think of anything better to do than sit around and watch football, and since my team wasn’t playing, I sat in the back of the room and caught up on work and took advantage of the snack table.
A woman began to loudly talk about a game from the previous season where her team “took out” another team’s quarterback. “We knocked him out!” she said, as if celebrating a winning lottery ticket while wearing red shoes on New Year’s Eve. The player she referred to had suffered a vicious and questionable hit. It ended his season and at that point, everyone thought it would end his entire career.
A young man who worked his entire life to reach the college level, had his dream snuffed out with one rough tackle.
“I hope he never comes back!” the woman hissed.
This woman acted as if it was the funniest thing she had ever seen. She cackled on and on about how they put that “dumb” quarterback in his place . . . on the bench.
Her heartless snickering was momentarily halted while she chomped pretzels, but she soon resumed her gleeful commentary.
The great irony was this woman was a nurse, supposedly dedicated to helping people. The strange thing was, everyone sitting around her just nodded and treated her like she was spreading the gospel truth. Her callousness meant nothing.
I shouldn’t have let her get to me, but a drop of poison in the well is all it takes to kill an entire city. Football was ruined. I still watched my team’s games, but my heart wasn’t in it.
One bad apple had spoiled the entire game I used to love. For the next few years, I barely noticed when football season started. I kept thinking about that woman’s attitude.
What kind of people get so wrapped up in a sport?
And then, this past week, I found the answer.
Fans on both sides of the game, people from different cities, and those who had nothing to do with the teams at all, came together in concern, worry and prayer for NFL’s Damar Hamlin.
Hamlin, the safety for The Buffalo Bills, suffered cardiac arrest in a game against The Bengals. The NFL took the extraordinary step to cancel the remainder of the game. Groups of people began to pray. Some cried openly in the stands.
ESPN analyst and former NFL player Dan Orlovsky led an on-air prayer and earnestly asked God to heal the 24 year old Hamlin.
America was captivated in concern for the young football player. Politics, rioting, job losses and inflation were all pushed aside to collectively worry about the well-being of this young man who dreamed of playing football.
And now, Damar Hamlin seems to be recovering. Prayers were answered and we’re all relieved. “Did we win?” Damar asked upon awakening. “You won the game of life.” The doctor responded.
The entire country saw God’s miraculous healing and I was reminded that most people are good. And football isn’t all bad.
Oddly enough, a rough game can sometimes bring unity and gentleness along with the joy.
And one bad apple doesn’t have to spoil the whole game.