Monday, December 17, 2007

The Life of Brian

I call it the ESPN effect.

Cut the music. Da-dad-da, da-da-da!

Accompanying it is always some overpaid athlete mugging for the camera.
It has become the thing to do. The point now is not how you play the game, or even whether you win or lose, but whether or not you make it onto Sports Center each night.

That’s why I grind my teeth every time I’m forced to watch some player going into an overblown celebration while his team is getting smoked.
Yeah, I know. I’m old. I don’t get it. That’s not the way I learned to play the game.

Unfortunately, that’s all the games are about today.

Which is why something truly spectacular happened during yesterday’s improbably Eagles win against the Cowboys.

No, it wasn’t all those shots of Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo’s new squeeze. By the way, the ‘Boys QB seems to squeeze the ball a tad every time one of his lovelies is in attendance. The last time this happened it was with Carrie Underwood. Romo struggled that day as well.

No, this novel feat was handled by Brian Westbrook.

It happened at the tail end of the fourth quarter, with the Eagles clinging to a 10-6 lead. Westbrook took a handoff from Donovan McNabb, burst through a big hole, and suddenly saw nothing but green carpet between him and the end zone.

Then something almost indescribable happened. Westbrook bolted for paydirt, until he got to the 1-yard line. Then he fell to the ground.

And in so doing he reaffirmed my failing faith in pro athletes. You see, the key at that point in the game was not the score. Westbrook easily could have rolled into the end zone and then conducted a celebration worthy of yesterday’s foe, Terrell Owens.

He had more important things on his mind. The key at that point of the game was the clock. Westbrook realized the Cowboys were out of timeouts, and after the two-minute warning could not stop the clock.

All the Eagles had to do was take a knee and run out the clock.
Game, set and match.

I’m guessing there are not a lot of athletes who would have even realized the wisdom of what Westbrook did, let alone given up a chance to pad their stats or make their fantasy football owners happy.

What Westbrook did was selfless, pure and a throwback to another era.

Maybe they’ll even show it on Sports Center.

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