Labor Day and football go together like barbecue and slaw (can you tell what I want to eat this weekend?). College football begins. Pro teams have to get their rosters finalized. High school teams are in full swing. So if you’re not a football fan, just hang with me a moment.
I worked for a summer as a youth director in Auburn, AL where football is huge (Bo Jackson was there at the time). Anyway, there’s a story about the legendary Auburn coach Shug (pronounced Shoog) Jordan. He asked a former player to help him recruit. The now NFL player agreed and asked what kind of player the coach was looking for.
Jordan said, “You know the guy who gets knocked and stays down?”
“Yeah coach, we don’t want him, right?”
“Right!” said, the coach. “And you know the guy who gets knocked down, gets up but gets knocked down again and stays down?”
“Not him either, coach.”
“Exactly!” said Jordan. “You know that guy who gets knocked down over and over and over again, but keeps getting up?”
“That’s who we’re looking for, aren’t we?” said the former player.
“NO!” said Coach Jordan. “I want that guy who is knocking everybody down!”
Down in Alabama that story keeps ‘em laughing a while. It also reflects a truth about a lot of us. We all want the winners on our team, people we know are going to pull the game through, make us proud of our team, knock down the opponent. Perhaps that’s what made Andrew Luck’s announcement last weekend such a shocker. He’s a winner. We were thrilled he was a Colt. He would do anything to win the game as we saw over the last seven years.
No doubt there were some booers at Saturday’s game who regret it. It was a reaction in the moment. Even I wondered what I’ll do with my not inexpensive Andrew Luck jersey. But truth is, if I don’t wear it, shame on me.
We’ve heard Luck’s reasons. He made a decision for himself, not money, not guilt. And what he owes fans he doesn’t even know. He wants to live a satisfying life. He teaches us that killing yourself at your job is not all that satisfying. And that’s a good reminder this Labor Day weekend.
Labor Day started as a tribute to the worker, the factory laborer, the assembly line cog, whose work is the backbone of our country. Often forgotten, they are the reason America became great. But taken to the extreme, we confuse greatness with our work. We believe that our job and the rewards it produces is what life is all about. Andrew Luck and his decision to walk away from football should give us all pause. How do I define satisfaction? What makes my life meaningful? And is something getting in the way of my ability to enjoy life more?
Thanks Andrew. You’ve given us some good questions this weekend.
See you Sunday,