Last night felt like Déjà vu for me. For the second straight year, my Saskatchewan Roughriders were in the Grey Cup, for the second straight year they faced the Montreal Alouettes, for the second straight year they lost in heartbreaking fashion, and for the second straight year Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo gave glory to God at the end of the game (which I am thrilled by). It was a tough pill to swallow once again, but like we always say – maybe next year. I wrote a blog post last year and I thought I would post it again, given the similarities of both Grey Cups.
Sunday night was a bitter night for me. My beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders lost the Grey Cup championship in the most painful way imaginable. Steph and I had small group that night and after it was over, we hurried home to see the end of the Grey Cup. For all my American friends out there, the Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League’s version of the Super Bowl. It just so happened that my favorite team in all of sports, the team that I grew up watching and rooting for had made it all the way to the championship game. They were big underdogs in the Grey Cup as they faced the powerful Montreal Alouettes, who had already defeated them twice in the regular season. The game was not carried on any of the major American TV networks, but luckily I was able to watch the game on the internet. When we got home, to my surprise, the Riders were leading 20-11 going into the last quarter of play. And then early in the 4th quarter, the Riders put together an impressive drive and scored a touchdown to give them a 16 point lead with a little over 10 minutes to play. Things were looking good. However, the very next possession, Montreal came right back with a touchdown of their own, and capped it off with a 2 point conversion. Our 16 point lead was quickly cut in half. To make matters worse, the Saskatchewan quarterback threw an interception on the next possession, which left the door open for Montreal to tie the game. Sure enough, enough Montreal worked their way down the field and scored another touchdown. All they needed was another 2 point conversion, and the game would be tied. Finally, the Roughriders caught a break – Montreal failed to complete the 2–point conversion attempt and with a little over a minute and a half left in the game, all Saskatchewan needed to do was get a first down and run out the clock. Once again, however, the offence did nothing and had to punt away the football, giving Montreal another opportunity to complete their comeback. In what seemed like an eternity, Montreal drove down the field and got into field-goal position. With only a few seconds left on the clock, Montreal needed to kick a 43 yard field goal in order to win the game. To my great elation along with all of Rider-nation, the football failed to go through the uprights. Saskatchewan had won the Grey Cup! Everyone was going crazy! But hold on a minute………there were yellow flags on the field. Everyone held their breath to see what the call would be. ………Illegal substitution – too many men on the field for Saskatchewan. I couldn’t believe it! After the 10 yard penalty, Montreal only had to kick a 33 – yard field-goal. As you might have guessed, professionals don’t miss 33 yard-field goals, especially when they get a second chance.
Devastation…utter disappointment, anguish. Roughrider head coach Ken Miller described it as though he had his heart ripped out of his chest. The TV cameras quickly found their way to winning Quarterback Anthony Calvillo. The first thing he said was, “I want to give all the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This was certainly not the first time I have heard a championship winning player give glory to God. Even though my heart was broken at the time, I found this to be refreshing consolation that a professional athlete was willing to give glory to God. That night, I could not sleep. As I was alone with my thoughts that night, it occurred to me that I had never heard a player on the loosing team do such a thing. If you are a sports fan, think back and try to remember if you have ever heard someone thank God even though they lost. I would be surprised if you could. People just don’t do that. I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:31 where it says, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Whatever you do – whether it is playing football, or going to work in the morning, whether it is going to coffee with a friend or playing with your kids in the backyard, whether it is going to church Sunday morning or it is going to prayer meeting Wednesday night. Don’t you think the, “whatever you do” extends to winning AND losing in a championship football game? I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see the Saskatchewan Roughriders giving glory to God after the game, but they should have.