It’s been a long season.
It started back in July and it has touched 8 months on the calendar since. Yet the journey is far from over.
And what a journey it has been.
Win or lose today, we’ve been blessed by a team we call the Baltimore Ravens. If you’ve paid attention, they’ve taught us not just about football, but about life as well.
They are bonded by the concept of TEAM. They are one through faith. And together the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts.
I remember one practice during training camp. There wasn’t anything different about that practice except the way it ended.
When the horn blew signaling the end of the session, the team gathered together as they always do following a practice as John Harbaugh addressed the team, albeit not within earshot for observers to listen.
Harbaugh said what he needed to say and then gave the floor to Marshal Yanda.
Yanda isn’t what you would call a very vocal leader but when a player of his skill and ability and one who always gives his best effort decides to step up and address the team, there’s a good reason. The attentiveness and body language of his teammates was a clear indication that they thought the same.
When Yanda finished, the gathering dispersed to chants of “Yanda.”
After practice I asked Harbaugh what his Pro Bowl guard said to the team.
“His words were, ‘Embrace the grind,’” Harbaugh said. “Perfect for training camp, right? He talked about ‘physical’ being the foundation of being a football player and what this football team is all about, and he talked about having fun. It’s a game that we should love. It’s a great game, and we all love it, so even though it’s 105 degrees, or whatever it is, make the most of it and enjoy yourself.”
That afternoon seems like years ago. It truly has been a grind.
Today we count down the hours and the minutes to kickoff.
Super Bowl XLVII will soon be here and gone.
The grind will end. The finality will be sudden.
The losing team will fall hard because the stakes are so high.
The winner will soak in the spoils of victory. The trophy will sparkle like no other. The confetti will tumble from the sky, nearly defying gravity. The exhilarating joy will intoxicate to the point of surrealism.
Win or lose, there will be lessons learned.
This will be a day to remember.
Embrace the grind. Embrace Ray’s last dance.
And either way, be blessed by living the experience.