My Miami Dolphins opened the 2005 NFL season today with a win at home against the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins and the Broncos are two franchises known for their Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Dan Marino and John Elway, and both these legends are known for their fourth-quarter comeback heroics. With Marino, I have so many wonderful memories of Dan driving the Dolphins back late for a heart stopping win, more often than not against the Jets. With Elway, I only have two things to say…..“The Drive”.
Comebacks are a part of sports. Comebacks are always celebrated as a display of athletic and mental will to overcome odds and adversity and emerge victorious. Comebacks remind us that anything is possible, no matter how dire the situation appears to be. If ever there was a day in sports when comebacks truly meant something, it was today.
Four years ago today, the United States was forever changed as a result of terrorist attacks on our home soil. New York City and Washington D.C. were forever scarred by tragedy and horror. Two weeks ago today, Hurricane Katrina was preparing to bring its fury to New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast. As was the case with September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, the local areas were left devastated and the rest of the country left in shock.
So is it simple irony that on the NFL’s opening day, the teams from New York, Washington and New Orleans managed a victory, or were the football gods just doing their thing? Yes, I know the Jets lost, but it’s always a good thing when the Jets lose <grin>. But seriously, the Saints managed their victory in dramatic fashion, kicking the game winning field goal in the closing seconds of the contest. Add to that last night’s thrilling, come-from-behind victory for the LSU Tigers, and the fact that today JP Losman, a Tulane grad, picked up a win with the Bills, and it’s more proof that the football gods are indeed working to bring emotional relief to the victims of Katrina.
Sports will not solve the problems of the thousands of people still reeling from the pain of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina, but for a very brief moment, it can make this pain less intense. For a couple of hours, it can make the overwhelming feelings of despair and loss go away. I agree that these are just games, and in comparison to the tragedies brought on by hate and nature, they are insignificant. However, they are vital when you consider how these games remind us how the human spirit can and often does prevail when faced with adversity.
Like the citizens of New York and Washington, the folks of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama (and all other areas impacted by Katrina) will make their own comeback and overcome their hardships and losses. And unlike the professional athletes we watch on TV, the clock will never run out on the survivors of these tragedies. There is no third out or final point. Their comeback is a continual work in progress, and the least we can do is pray for them to remain strong and help them in any way we can. For it is in displaying our human spirit that we are all winners.