Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” This begs the question, from a pure secular perspective, is there anything that is not possible? As Nike implies with the phrase, “Just do it.” It is not the question of whether it can be done, but instead whether you believe you can do it. As we labor through the last weekend of the year absent of football, I would like to examine some recent events in sports where the line of possible and impossible has blurred.
- Brett Favre. Last year we had Favre Gate, this year the football world waited on baited breath for whether he would take the helm guiding the Vikings, conveniently one of the Packers most hated rivals. Finally, we were informed by the first ballot Hall of Famer, “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable.” Favre would never play in the NFL again. It was impossible. But then August 18 happened. The impossible was again possible as Favre decided that he was not quite finished with his personal play box otherwise referred to as the NFL. I really like Favre or perhaps it is more accurate to say I really like watching him play the game of football. The Vikings had no shot of winning the Super Bowl this year. Now arguably the best defense and most fearsome running game now has an adequate passing game to complement them with Favre paired with the constant deep threat receivers of Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice. The Super Bowl is now possible for Minnesota. Unfortunately, I think the incomparable Scoop Jackson identifies the mood of the football community with his article “What if Brett Favre were a woman?” I guess time will tell as to whether it worth dancing the dance with Mr. Favre.
- Tiger Woods. He is an amazing athlete and in the discussion as perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year more than once. However, these facts have blinded the sports media during the past several years to pose the question at every PGA Major event: Tiger or the field. To be fair, his list of accomplishments at Majors are considerable. He is second all time in PGA Major victories, one of two players to win all four majors twice and the only player to have won multiple Majors in consecutive years. Starting from the first year Tiger won a Major in 1997, there have been 52 Majors. Tiger has won 14 or about 27 percent. This is a significant number, but during this time there were four entire years that he did not win a single Major: 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2009. The PGA Major tournaments consist of the top players in the world with varied and distinguished course terrains. It is irresponsible to suggest that one man should be considered the the front runner for every single tournament with no consideration to what players are playing the best golf at the time as well as those whose game is best suited for the current course in question. It is lazy journalism. Less than 30 percent odds is not something I wish to place my lot behind. Is it impossible that Woods could win every Major, no, but its highly improbable.
- The Diva Receiver. To make a list of the those that have fit this profile since the 80’s would quickly begin to look like the Bible’s Book of Numbers. Long. Recent events suggest that there is strong reason to believe that the final curtain is falling for the diva receiver in the NFL, though we still have the entertaining examples of Ochocinco and that of the embarrassing from Brandon Marshall. I believe the era will be capped by the imprisonment of Plaxico Burress. A remarkable interview by Jeremy Schaap with Burress on E:60 highlights that his current circumstances may not be those resulting from that of a Diva mentality, but instead that of the targeted athlete that was so well documented in the article in ESPN The Magazine titled Living Scared following the tragic death of Sean Taylor. So is the Diva wide receiver in the NFL on its way out? I have hope that it is possible.
- Eric Bruntlett. A post about the possible of impossible in sports would not be complete without paying tribute to Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play. It was only the second in major league history to end a game and the 15th overall. Sometimes overcoming the impossible involves just a bit of luck because as Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”