A blog by Josh Humbert
What if I told you that one of the single greatest plays in the history of the NFL achieved a gain of a measly, meager, modest two yards? No way that’s possible, right? Well, check the clip here and decide for yourself:
Isn’t that crazy? Go ahead, watch it again. Look at the details…
The Dallas Cowboys are playing the New England Patriots and the Cowboys have the ball deep in their own territory facing 4 point deficit. On first down, Tony Romo hands the ball off to Marion Barber on the 6 yard line.
And a tornado of adversity is about to touch down in Barber’s world…
Dark Clouds In The Sky
As Marion gets the ball, before he even takes his second step, there are already three Patriot defenders deep in the Cowboys backfield. They are not here to make friends. This is a close game that is late in the third quarter. The Patriots have the Cowboys pinned back and they sense THIS could be the time to shut them down for good.
These defenders may have guessed the Cowboys would start off with a running play. Well, their guess is correct and they are EXACTLY where they should be to hurt the Cowboys even further.
Funnel Clouds Form
Boom! That’s Vince Wilfork (a Super Bowl Champion) diving and hitting Marion’s knees. Bodies are all around. Cowboy teammates are getting knocked to the ground. Wilfork lands a good shot, but Barber doesn’t go down yet.
Barber is knocked back and as he is still reeling…CRACK!…Rodney Harrison (two-time Super Bowl Champion) strikes next. Harrison, once voted the “NFL’s Dirtiest Player” is ferociously grabbing Barber and trying to wrestle him to the ground. The brutal struggle takes Barber back a few more yards but somehow he spins out….
….but not to safety. In fact, now the danger of an actual Safety (2 points for the Patriots if they can tackle him here) is in play because Barber’s escape of Harrison has put him into his own end zone. And….before he can blink, two more Patriots come FLYING in aiming for the kill shot. What started as a poor play that should’ve ended with a loss of a couple yards now turns dire.
This situation looks so bad for the Cowboys that Tony Romo, their QB, is already swinging his arms in disgust over the Safety he thinks will surely happen any moment.
The F-5 Hits
Barber received the ball on about the 6-yard line to start the play…but at present, he has absorbed multiple hits and has traveled six yards in the totally wrong direction. And his fun is just beginning.
The next two Patriot defenders are coming FULL speed. Eyes locked on to a spinning and reeling Barber, these two men want the highlight hit. “I’m about to make Sportscenter right here!”
You’ve seen the nature shows where a pack of lions rocket toward an unsuspecting gazelle and gets the kill? Now, imagine if the gazelle had just been hit by two other lions first and is still spinning. The violence approaches.
SMACK! The first Patriot goes high and nails Barber…but again, somehow, Barber stays on his feet…only to be pummeled in the chest by the next guy, who happens to be a Hall of Fame linebacker named Junior Seau. This tornado is F-5 status.
Barber, now another 7 yards in the wrong direction, absorbs the Seau hit to his chest and stumbles back a few more steps. He’s alive! He’s…..still standing???
No time to celebrate though because that colossal mass of humanity rising to his feet is Wilfork standing back up. He wants a second helping. And he has more friends with him this time.
Barber has no choice and no other options—he must outrace all the other Patriots to the far corner of the end zone. There is no Plan B…and quite frankly, there really wasn’t even a Plan A. Survive! Move! Step! Step, youngin’!! Must.Get.To.Corner.Now.
Barber is forced to even go another yard or two deeper into his own end zone to avoid the oncoming rush of bodies. We’re talking about negative 12-13 yards from where he first received the ball.
A Patriots defensive back comes screaming into view at full speed and closes in with Wilfork. Romo has finally realized that a shred of hope remains in this play and he throws a rather pitiful block. But he gets just enough of the Patriots defensive back to slow him down. Barber feels the contact but keeps moving.
Here comes another Patriot. This one goes for Barber’s waist. Barber takes the hit in stride and manages to brush him away with a powerful stiff arm.
ANOTHER Patriot now closes in and he has a good angle on Barber. Will this ever end?! This Patriot manages to grab ahold of Barber with both hands. But…a strange thing has happened by this point. This tornado of adversity has run up against something altogether different.
A Singular Desire
There is a sharp contrast in these proceedings. These Patriot defenders just want to make a tackle or a highlight. But Barber wants a victory. And the victory here is to avoid loss and MOVE FORWARD. No quit, no stop, no give-up, no easy-way-out, no backing down, no defeat.
Occasionally sports will give you a brief glimpse into something more, something larger. This is one of those moments. You see a man possessed by his purpose. He cannot and will not accept the seemingly inevitable.
“I get swamped by guys right away. So what? I get knocked back and reeling. So what? I have enemies coming full speed and lining me up in their sights. So what? I’ve gone nowhere but backwards and all I’ve done is absorb shots. So what? There really isn’t any help coming. So what? I will not yield. I will not go quietly. I will go forward.”
Barber escapes that Patriot with two hands on him. His direction is finally and absolutely turned the right way. He sprints up the sideline and is pushed out of bounds by a Patriot defender.
All of that….for a two yard gain. He netted two positive yards. Two.
Becoming A G.I.A.N.T.
I’ve heard the acronym before and I completely agree with it: To grow is to be a G.I.A.N.T. That stands for Growth Is A Noble Thing. To grow in any area of your life is a noble pursuit. A good thing. A desire to grow in knowledge or skill or discipline? That is a noble endeavor.
And let me remind you of what you already know: if you want this noble thing, this growth, in your life…you will face adversity. True growth most assuredly comes with a price tag.
Growth IS a noble thing. And it’s something that simply isn’t free.
A Two-Yard Run IS Growth
Often times in my own life, when I set a course for growth in some area, I end up facing adversity. Sure, it’s not eight NFL athletes trying to take my head off…but I will face challenges. And it can seem like all I’m doing is going backwards. Taking hits. Wondering if it’s all worth it. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Should I just go down? Let myself be tackled? This play doesn’t seem to be working at all. In fact, this play never had a chance. Why am I just getting tagged from all over? Should I just lay down?
To be noble is to rise above those things. To be noble is to take the hits and keep standing, even if it means having to retreat a few more yards. A noble pursuit is to run with everything you have for the 2-yard gains in life.
Yeah, it’s just two measly, meager, modest yards…but it’s two yards in the right direction. That means something. It means a great deal.
It’s growth. It’s my desire. It’s survival. It’s not a loss. It’s not giving in.
Two yards means I’m further along than I was before. Two yards mean I outran the tornado.
2 Peter 3:18
…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insight are always welcome.