The Eagles should not have won the Super Bowl. Not a chance. At the beginning of the season, no one predicted it and no one expected it. Last year's record was mediocre at best. They had a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach who, while incredibly talented, still had a lot to learn. No, they should not have won the Super Bowl. And yet here we are. This hard working, selfless, faith filled team has done the seemingly impossible and brought Philadelphia their first Lombardi Trophy. How? There are any number of reasons but I would like to highlight a few here:
1. Each player matters. The injuries of their top players certainly mounted up. Sproles, Hicks, Peters. Maragos, Sturgis, and then Wentz. Yikes! Everyone had to up their game. Everyone on the team had a critical role to play. Even injured players (with Carson Wentz leading by example) had a role to play on the sidelines to make victory possible. Including QB Nick Foles, this confident "next man up" philosophy was trusted by the team. The confidence and trust that they demonstrated in God, in Doug Pederson and their coaching staff, and each other made the seemingly impossible possible.
2. Selfless play - There is no "i" in "team" (but there are two "i" s in "idiot") and humility and self sacrifice was essential to the success of this season. The Eagles set egos aside and wholeheartedly committed to the team. Individual stats were not important. Number of carries or catches or yards were not important - the score of the game was. You simply play your best when called upon to play. Sometimes you'll get to make great plays. Often you will have to share the spotlight with others. But you're clearly in it together. When each person trusts and plays for the rest of the team, greatness is far more possible.
3. One game at a time - Coach Pederson instilled a culture that never looked beyond the game at hand, never underestimated opponents, and focused upon the immediate challenges that each position on the field had to prepare for and face. Each game is it's own challenge. No need to talk about or worry about the post season until you are there. Now granted the Eagles enjoyed low expectations at the beginning of the season so at least for a little while were flying (pun intended) under the radar. But once the Super Bowl predictions started, the key remained to focus on the challenge in front of you, live and work in the present, and let the future take care of itself. How important this would be when injuries caused many around the Birds (media, fans) to start losing hope for the future.
Beyond football, perhaps there are some personal life lessons that we could take home from this amazing season. Maybe there are things that we could strive to apply to our own lives at home, at work, at school, on the field or court in other sports, at church, and in the community. Put others first. Surround yourself with teammates you can trust and earn their trust too. Keep your head in the present. Let go of sorrow and regret from the past and anxiety and worry about the future. Don't let the moment get too big for you. In the words of Jesus, "Let the day's worries be sufficient for the day."
Not every season will be special like this one. We all journey through dark and difficult seasons of life as well. May your faith sustain you through the victories and losses, the celebrations and laments, the laughter and the tears, and all that the years will bring. Remain steadfast for the Lord is faithful and the crown of victory is prepared for us.
"Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31
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