We all know what happened on Saturday night, and if you are a dedicated enough Cougar fan to be reading this, you've surely seen the picture floating around social media of Jaren Hall embracing Jake Oldroyd while the fans rushed the field. It was a beautiful moment and a fantastic display of leadership.
I REALLY felt that when I saw it in the early hours of Sunday morning after the game.
Halfway through my junior year of high school, I moved from California to Orem. I won the starting job at left guard and was the backup center. In our biggest rivalry game of the year, our starting center got hurt in the 4th quarter and I had to slide over.
We were down 5 and had the ball. It was our last shot. We made a couple great plays and got down to having 1st and goal at the 6 or 7 yard line. We had just been in a similar situation the week before and it felt like we were going to pull off the upset again.
That is, until on 2nd down I snapped the ball over our QB's head and the other team recovered it. I remember looking around the crowd and immediately thinking "I don't want to come to school on Monday". I apologized to my entire team after the game. Then I laid on the locker room floor crying for a solid hour after everybody left. I had never felt like more of a failure or disappointment in my life.
It stung for a while. I had nightmares about it every once in a while for a few years. And all of that was in front of maybe 5,000 people. It was the early days of social media.
It wasn't in front of a sold out crowd of 64,000. There weren't 2.4 million people watching on TV. I couldn't go on Twitter and see my name everywhere with people saying I choked, how bad I was, how much I sucked (though I did get a few comments at school the next week). And I'm sure in the moment there were lots of the last bit on social media, but that was quickly erased by the pictures of Jaren holding Jake and consoling him.
We joke about "never trust a kicker" but any time they are kicking a field goal, they are bailing out an offense that couldn't get the job done all the way. We don't blame the kicker if we lose a game 49-42, but if we lose 49-48 and he missed a field goal, we put it squarely on him and not on the defense for giving up 49 points. Same thing if it's a close game - say we had lost 23-20 on Saturday. People would have blamed Jake, but the offense still only got first downs on the first and last drives of the first half and there were a mess of 3 and outs where we couldn't move the ball to save our life. There's an extreme amount of pressure put on kickers when it is a team sport and you can win or lose via shortcomings in any of the 3 phases of the game.
Anyway - back to the title. I saw a post floating around with 4k shares that had the above picture and made a connection I wanted to share:
I may not know what it's like to miss, not only one, but two game winning field goals in front of 65,000 people (and probably hundreds of thousands watching on TV). But I do know what it feels like to fail, I know what it feels like to not live up to my potential, and I know what it feels like to disappoint people who have relied on me-- especially my Father in Heaven who has given me chance after chance after chance.
But when I see this picture, I see more than a football game. I see Christ, holding me up, consoling me at the end of this game of life. When I feel like I failed too many times to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom, I know I'll hear Him saying, "it's ok [Your Name Here], we won."
Romans 3:23 states, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
But the ultimate sports scripture teaches us that because "God so loved the world... He gave his only begotten Son," that no matter how many "field goals" we miss in life, we can still win the game-- because of Him.
Jake had a really crappy night Saturday. But in the end we only scored 2 touchdowns in regulation and needed his 2 FGs and a missed PAT from Baylor's kicker to even get to OT. However bad you think you felt or upset you were after the last 2 kicks, I promise you he felt worse.
But more than anything, we can think back of this and the example Jaren set for us of finding the lost sheep who needs us most.
That's my quarterback.