Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Other McAllister

Yesterday I wrote about Ted, the other hero in The Santorini Bride.

A friend asked me after dinner this evening what I was going to write about tonight. I wasn't sure. And then about five minutes into the fourth quarter of tonight's Saints vs Eagles game I knew -- provided the Saints held on to win, which I dared to believe they would.

I was going to write about the other McAllister.

Deuce McAllister -- the guy who pretty much won the game for the New Orleans Saints tonight. Of course he had help, but the former Ole Miss running back and veteran of 6 years with the Saints is the man who couldn't be stopped.

Last year he missed much of the season through injury. He made a long road back. He had a good season. But a good season wasn't enough. He wanted a win tonight. I would suggest he wanted a win probably more than everyone else on the field. That might not be true, but it looked like it.

He played like it. Give him the ball and he found a hole to run it through. And when he didn't find a hole, he made one . . . or two . . . or more. And when he couldn't make them, he didn't go down. He pushed on. And on. And on. Sometimes as he pushed, he carried what seemed like half the Eagles' defense with him. His first touchdown run wasn't so much a run as it was Deuce and his teammates in an incredible team effort to get across the goal line en masse (but again, I suspect there would have been no such incredibly fierce effort if, in the middle with the ball, there had not been Deuce McAllister).

Tonight he was a man possessed. A man inspired. And inspiring.

That's why I like watching sports. Not just for the men in shorts of the World Cup. But for the inspiration.

Of course there are bad games, there are boring games, there are sloppy games. But often -- and particularly at the playoff level in any sport -- there are incredible games. There are powerful games. There are superhuman efforts. There is commitment and determination and sheer will that takes players to a new level.

It's very much like what I wrote about a couple of days ago in my Anyone for Shakespeare blog piece.

The efforts made to bring Romeo and Juliet to the stage by that group of non-actors from Harlesden under the direction of Paterson Joseph were wondrous to behold. The individuals who started out on this venture were not sure of themselves. Quite the opposite, in fact. They had crises of confidence on a daily basis and at nearly every turn.

But as time passed they found the resources inside themselves to create something they could be proud of. They strove hard, they worked passionately, and in the end they succeeded.

Like Deuce.

There is inspiration in watching efforts like that. Whether I'm watching the Shakespeare documentary or watching the Saints game tonight, when I see efforts like that I come back to my own life and my own work encouraged and empowered.

Tomorrow more games. Who will step up? Who will be the inspiration?

Congratulations -- and thank you, Deuce.

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