Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Bowl Week: Time for a Football Story

David Carr, a quarterback out of Fresno State, 6’-3”, 230 lbs., was the first overall pick of the 2002 draft, by the expansion Houston Texans. He was considered a “can’t miss”, franchise quarterback that would lead his new team to respectability and eventually a championship. David Carr seemed destined for greatness, with all the physical skills and mental characteristics to become a champion, an all-pro, maybe even a Hall of Famer.

Five years later, after the 2006 season the Texans released Carr, they dumped him. He later signed with Carolina as a back-up. Carr’s record as a starter with Houston was 22-53 with a quarterback rating of 75.5, 65 picks, 21 lost fumbles. What happened? Why did everything go south for David Carr?

Well, here’s the stat that gives it away. In those five years, Carr was the most sacked quarterback in the entire NFL. Houston had some great athletes at the skill positions, but they could not protect the pocket. They had the worst offensive line in the league. In 02 Carr was sacked an NFL record 76 times and in five years he was sacked a total of 249 times. No other quarterback has ever taken such a beating over a five year period.

David Carr told reporters, “God put me here for a reason. He didn’t put me here to get beat up.” But that’s the way it turned out for him, wasn’t it?

Imagine the physical and emotional price he paid. I wonder what his back and neck and shoulders feel like when he gets up in the morning. And what does that do to your nerves? I’ll bet that gets in your head. Some commentators consider David Carr to be damaged goods, too shell-shocked to ever be effective again as a quarterback. Maybe he can recover and play well. Maybe not.

Protecting the pocket. You know what that means in football, of course, but it’s also true in life. We better know how to protect the pocket. When it comes to our lives, the pocket represents the center of who we really are, our character and our values, our integrity and our faith, our hopes and our dreams.

We may have a lot of additional skills and abilities going for us – our athleticism, our intelligence, our personality, our looks, whatever. But if we don’t protect the pocket, we are likely to get hurt. If we don’t guard our hearts, we may get crushed, defeated by life.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

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