I love watching sports bloopers. The baseball outfielder loses track of a fly ball, it bounces off his head and over the fence for a home run. I’ve caused a few bloopers myself. I’ve missed the hoop, fallen off a ski lift, tripped over my cleats, and dropped barbells on my nose. Thankfully I’m not alone.
If you were a Dallas Cowboys fan in the ‘90s, you remember Leon Lett. He was a great football player, but his name has been memorialized for his on-field blunders.
In Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills, Lett recovered a late-game fumble on the Dallas 35-yard line and ran it all the way back. But as Leon slowed and held the ball out in celebration, Bills’ player Don Beebe knocked the ball from his hand, costing Leon the touchdown.
The next season, the Cowboys led the Miami Dolphins 14-13 with 15 seconds remaining. The Dolphins lined up to attempt a 41-yard field goal to take the lead. The kick was blocked. The ball lay spinning as the seconds ticked down. All the Cowboys had to do for the win was leave the ball alone. Out of nowhere came Leon. He lost his footing and slid knocking the ball towards a Miami player who recovered it. Miami attempted another field goal and won the game 16-14.
Weeks later, Leon received a letter from a young girl trying to console him. “Don’t worry about it,” she told him. “Last year during the Superbowl there was a guy that was going in to score a touchdown and had the ball ripped out of his hand right before he scored. It’s okay, people make mistakes all the time.” She had no idea that guy was Leon.
I’ve messed up. Not before millions of fans but I’ve fallen short. I’ve failed. One of the things I love about Jesus is that we come to Him, not as we wish we were, but just as we are. In Philippians 3 Paul writes,
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Live this way and we are no longer defined by our mistakes and messes. In fact, God will teach us through failure what we will never learn through success.
And what is Leon up to now? Well, he’s is an assistant coach with the Cowboys. He laughs about those gaffes. And on the 20th anniversary of Beebe stripping the ball away, Leon went and celebrated with Beebe himself.
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