Missed Calls, Ongoing Injustice, and The Day of Restoration

That, friends, is one of the worst missed calls in the history of sports, the latest black mark on the increasingly inept NFL. If you are out of the loop, this play took place with less than two minutes left in the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The score was tied, the Saints driving toward the end zone. It was 3rd and 10, the defender (in white) was beat, and as the picture shows he hit the receiver (in black) well before the ball arrived. It is a classic case of pass interference (not to mention face-guarding and helmet to helmet). If the interference is called, the Saints get the ball inside the 5 yard line, 1st and 10, with an opportunity to run the clock down to just a few seconds, kick a short field goal, and celebrate with their hometown fans that they are going to the Super Bowl! I don’t know the official statistics on how often a team in that situation wins the game, but I guarantee you it is well over 99% of the time. All they would have to do is take a knee 3 times and kick a chip shot field goal on the way to victory. Not to be. Even though there were two officials within just a few yards of the play, both staring at this scene in real time, they completely missed it. Again, one of the worst missed calls in any sport in the history of sport.

My cards on the table. I am a life long sports fan who roots for the Saints. I am not a life long Saints fan, but I was living in Saints country (in Bay Saint Louis, MS – about an hour from New Orleans) when the Saints won the Super Bowl. My wife and I had moved down to help in the aftermath of Katrina, and like so many other transplants we gladly jumped on the band wagon. It is hard to explain the impact the Saints have had on the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast communities post-Katrina. Wright Thompson explained as well as anyone… http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/13479768/wright-thompson-life-loss-renewal-new-orleans-10-years-hurricane-katrina.

Because of my experience, I have probably thought about The Missed Call more than the average observer. I’m sure there are quite a few Chiefs’ fans, for instance, who said something like, “Yeah, that was bad. We lost too. Sorry, not sorry.” Not so easy for Saints fans, and how much more difficult for the Saints organization and their families. Take Ben Watson, the Saints’ tight end. This is not just a game for Watson. It is his work, his livelihood, his career. Not only that, but a few weeks ago Watson announced that he would retire at the end of the season in order to be at home for his growing family. The week of the NFC Championship Watson came down with appendicitis and had to miss the game. This is not only the way his season ended. This is the way his career ended. It’s one thing to go out on a loss. Most guys have to end their career that way. But Watson is left grieving injustice.

Now some will want to stop reading after those last two words, but hear me out. I am not trying to equate the grief of the Saints with the the greater grief of, for example, the loss of a loved one. But there are varying levels of grief and the grief of the Saints is grief of a kind. Likewise, I am not trying to compare the wrong done to the Saints with, for example, the greater injustice done by our United States government in conjunction with Planned Parenthood. Last year, our government paid Planned Parenthood almost $563,000,000 so that the organization could continue its death march, killing 332,757 human beings. That’s nearly 1,000 murders per day and this has been their norm for years. Of course, the injustice done the Saints is nothing like this, but it is injustice of a kind.

Still don’t think so? Let’s change the scenario. Let’s say you are a regional sales rep and last year your company offered a $100,000 bonus to the highest performing regional rep in the country. The numbers were publicly displayed each month throughout the year, so as to motivate and drive healthy competition. You have been the highest performing rep all year, and in recent months you were clearing second place by $1,000,000 easy. The final numbers reflect the same. You are the clear winner and everyone can see it plain as day. That said, to the shock of everyone involved, at the end of the year banquet the 2nd place rep’s name is called to receive the reward. Chatter can be heard throughout the room. All you can do is offer a red-faced laugh because this must be some kind of bad joke. Not to be. The night ends and the $100,000 was given to the wrong person. Immediately following the event, you pull your boss aside and point out the error. He sees it too. Monday morning you are on a conference call with the executive board of the company and they see it as well. They say they are very sorry and promise that next year they will make an effort to do a better job. What!? Next year!? How about calling ole boy in 2nd place and getting my money!? Not just a game anymore is it?

This is exactly what the NFL has said. They are going to look into changing the rule so that pass interference calls are reviewable by video. For the future. This is completely insane and it is just plain wrong. What about The Missed Call? Is this some kind of joke? I hear all these analysts saying they don’t want to take anything away from the Rams because they played a great game. I agree. They did play a great game. Almost good enough to win. But who freakin cares? Good teams lose every year at this point in the season. The Rams did not do enough to win the game. The Saints did. It really is as simple as that. One of you brainiacs run the stats. How often does the team with a chance to down the ball, run out the clock, and kick a field goal under 30 yards win the game? It’s a complete sham.

And here’s the deal. The bosses at your company had the power to call Mr. 2nd Place and get your money back. And the NFL has a rule in place to protect from something like this. The commissioner has the authority to make the right call… https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/01/20/commissioner-has-authority-to-take-action-over-rams-saints-outcome-in-theory/. Note, he can choose whether to replay the entire game or to go back, make the right call, and replay the game from that point forward. Know how that would work out? Three downs and a Saints field goal. But you know what? The author of the article is right. There is no way he is going to do this. People say, “can you imagine the can of worms this would open?” Give me a break! Leaders have to make hard decisions all the time. Doing the right thing is not always popular. But there are a whole lot of people under your authority who are counting on you not to be a coward when the going gets tough.

This is injustice, plain and simple. It is not the greatest injustice, but injustice nonetheless. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of it. That is why this event will continue to linger. Because it does not stand in isolation. It speaks to the reality that this world is badly broken; shines light on the fact that this sort of thing happens all the damn time. Some of the wrongs done are smaller than this, some are much bigger. It all reveals the heartbreaking fact that things are not as they should be.

But here is the good news. There will come a day when injustice is no more. There will come a day when there is no more wrong done. In and through Jesus, all things will be fully and finally put right in the end.

19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Acts 3:19-21

Here’s the deal. God created us and in so doing he required us to live according to his standard of holy perfection. Yet we have all done the wrong thing. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. This is why we all die. But that is not all. Our sin separated us from God, making us his enemies. And God is Just. He doesn’t miss calls. We will all stand before God when we die and give an account for our life. If you stand there on your own merits you will be punished by the Just Judge for your unholy, unrighteous, unjust life, and that will be the right thing. That said, there is a way for the demands of God’s justice to be satisfied and for you to go free. Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfectly holy life. Yet he went to the cross to die under the just judgement of God as a substitute for his people. Jesus took the punishment we deserve. He then rose from the dead and went back to heaven, where he now resides “until the time for restoring all things.” Not only did Jesus come to save sinful humanity, he came to make all things right, all things good, all things new.

What should we do with this information? We should repent, turning to Jesus, believing that he came to save us from our sin. And we should look up from our griefs and look ahead from the next injustice, rejoicing with hope that because of Jesus all things will be right in the end.

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