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Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

This reflection on one of the newest in the 30 for 30 catalog, comes from Mockingfriend Paul Harris.

It is needless to say that ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has repeatedly brought to screen some glorious glimpses into the human heart.  The Four Falls of Buffalo, now streaming on Netflix, is no exception. Place this movie on the top of your must see list!

You may remember the Buffalo Bills losing streak of four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Sadly, The Bills, especially the 1990-96 rosters were and often remain synonymous with failure. Players like quarterback Jim Kelly, star running back Thurman…

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The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

Former Nebraska Cornhusker football star Lawrence Phillips’ apparent suicide in prison has been lodged in my mind as few celebrity (speaking broadly) deaths ever have. To be clear, I’ve never been a fan of Phillips, and I hadn’t thought about him enough to follow his post-Nebraska life. The story touches so much of who I am, though, that I can’t quite make sense of it.

A bit of background: Phillips was the star running back on the 1994 National Champion Huskers team, and he was a leading favorite for the Heisman Trophy at the beginning of the 1995 season. That ended…

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The Life of a Coach: “When We Lose, I Lose; When We Win, You Guys Win”

The Life of a Coach: “When We Lose, I Lose; When We Win, You Guys Win”

The day after the last day of the NFL regular season is known as “Black Monday”. It’s the day when typically no less than five NFL head coaches get their walking papers. Every NFL team ownership group makes promises to their fans that they can’t deliver on. Typically, the words are “we’re going to put the best possible product on the field.” And, “we are going to be competitive and make our city proud”. Inevitably, after the pledge to the community has failed, the axe comes down on the coach.

One of the “Black Monday” casualties this week was Tom Coughlin,…

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“The Player vs. The Person” – The Greg Hardy Dilemma

“The Player vs. The Person” – The Greg Hardy Dilemma

Most of us who have been life long avid sports fans eventually face what has always been true. We know the players, we don’t know the people. However, thanks to social media saturation and the endless “behind the scenes” stories about our favorite athletes that are available for our consumption, we tend to think we know the person – certainly more than we used to.

Even in 1976 though, at age 13, I certainly felt like I knew enough about “the person” to crown Bruce Jenner as my favorite athlete and plaster his posters all over my bedroom wall. Not only…

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The Curse of Bad Body Language

The Curse of Bad Body Language

About 8 years ago, when I was coaching our son’s 13 year old rec basketball team, we had a kid, Jessup, on the team who had obviously never played basketball. Worse, his body language told me that he had no interest in playing basketball. I judged the kid quickly, and harshly. As a coach, I was required to play everyone a minimum of two full, uninterrupted quarters (at least half the game). So, every game, in the first and third quarter, I would put Jessup in and hold my breath. We played an aggressive, press defense, and it required that…

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Ninja Perfection and the Mercy of Merton

Ninja Perfection and the Mercy of Merton

Holy guacamole! It’s a powerful and disarming thing to see the law of perfection fulfilled before one’s eyes, as all of us who tuned into American Ninja Warrior the other day did. No one in six seasons had completed the full (insane!) obstacle course and won the competition… until now. The fact that the winner, Isaac Caldiero, not only works as a carpenter busboy but comes out wearing a Jesus costume, well, I don’t think that was an accident. Neither was it an accident that the following excerpts from Thomas Merton’s essay, “The Climate of Mercy – For Albert Schweitzer”,…

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“Cheaters vs. Rapists” – The Rise of “Shrill” in the American Sports Fan

“Cheaters vs. Rapists” – The Rise of “Shrill” in the American Sports Fan

Gosh, we used to just call it Patriots vs. Steelers. Likely back then, there were players on both sides who were guilty of breaking the rules, and of sexual assault, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we just thought we were watching a football game. That’s what I chose to believe last night when I hung out with some buddies to play Team Trivia and watch the Pats and Steelers. One of the trivia teams named their team “Cheaters vs. Rapists” in honor of the Tom Brady/Ben Rothlisberger QB match up on opening night. I suppose you can…

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Jordan Spieth: There’s No “I” in Golf…Huh?

Jordan Spieth: There’s No “I” in Golf…Huh?

I’ve always had respect for the players and coaches in any sport who use the first person plural when they’re interviewed after a win, and the first person singular when things went poorly for them or their team after a loss. Derek Jeter was like that, so were Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and Buc’s Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy. That vantage point is counter-intuitive. To sit at your locker in front of a reporter after a loss and continually answer every question with “I…..” after a loss, but  “We…..” after a win, is a discipline that very few in…

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Fight, Flight, and Appeasement (in Little League): A Legal Interlude

Fight, Flight, and Appeasement (in Little League): A Legal Interlude

Check out the “Interlude” from Mockingbird’s latest resource, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints), available here!

The Law, on most every occasion, draws a line of distinction between the is of life and the ought. The Law is the demarcation of the life we should have—the life we long for—and our own obstructions preventing us from getting there. It is for this reason that our response to the Law is almost always counterproductive.[1]

Imagine you are twelve years old again, and you love baseball. All your heroes are baseball players, all your extracurricular time is spent either with a ballglove…

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Ballistic for Justice? Yeah, I Get It

Ballistic for Justice? Yeah, I Get It

I can’t roll the videotape, but I’m pretty sure that our middle child’s first fully formed sentence (somewhere south of age 2) was “That’s not fair!”  It was likely because her older sister had a bigger juice cup. It was sobering for me, because I learned something about her in that moment that was probably going to be inevitable about at least one of our kids, but I didn’t want to resign myself to say the words out loud so early in her life. They came out though, albeit involuntarily. “She’s just like me. Damn.”

Clarity of that truth reared its…

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England's Jo Potter (L) consoles teammate Laura Bassett after she scored an own-goal in the last minutes of the game giving Japan the win in their semifinal match at the FIFA Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 1, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/GEOFF ROBINS        (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Upside-Down Notion of an “Absolute Hero”

This week’s sports post comes from Mockingbird contributor Jonathan Adams:

Like (I’m sure) many of us, these past few weeks I’ve been dutifully doing something that I literally never do – watching women’s soccer on TV. I’ve been watching the US matches in the World Cup. I don’t claim to know much about soccer, but I concluded after watching the US in their semi-final match against Germany that (to my very untrained eye) the US team is a “team”. They communicate well and seem to have each others’ backs. They’re super fun to watch. And yes, I may have a pink…

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“When I Run, I Feel His Pleasure”, and Sometimes I’m Just Pleasant

“When I Run, I Feel His Pleasure”, and Sometimes I’m Just Pleasant

I was talking about the film “Secretariat” with a friend recently, and I remember him saying “I’m not really into horse movies”. That made me laugh. It’s like saying “I’m not into books about turtles”. It just seems to be an odd thing to be averse to. Anyway, I guess if I was pressed on the topic, I’d say I kind of like horse movies, Sea Biscuit, Secretariat, War Horse, and Black Beauty all come to mind. The film Secretariat came up in our conversation because we were talking about favorite movie scenes. I had mentioned that one of my…

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