Of lost momentum, falls from grace and old bird droppings

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

We love our heroes. Whether it is an artist, athlete or entertainer, we love them.

I am reminded of the words of A.E. Housman, “The time you won your town the race, we chaired you through the market place.”

It has been said that momentum is a flickered mistress, but so is fame. One moment you have it and the next second you don’t. I pity the individuals who believe the world’s love and admiration is something that can long endure.

Last month, University of Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o finished second in the Heisman trophy race. He was the toast of the town and could do no wrong. Even though he plays linebacker, his talents had allowed him to experience the rarefied air usually reserved for quarterbacks.     

That was then and this is now. He now has a dead girlfriend who apparently never existed in the first place. What started as a hoax now has somehow become a story worthy of numerous press conferences. Let he who is without telling a story cast the first football. Come on, people!

When I was playing football, my teammates told so many locker room lies that I literally thought they were co-founders of Playboy. They were so convincing that I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

Lies and entertainment go together. We build them up, only to watch them crash. The higher they go, the harder the fall. My heart breaks for the Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Vanilla Ice, Ryan Leaf and Manti Te’os of the world.

It is hard enough to dare to dream, let alone to go for it, under the watchful eyes of those who would cheer your outcome, be it good or bad. It is as if we are waiting to see that their feet are made of clay.

I have tried and I have dared to dream. I have experienced successes and failures. I have the scars, wounds and trophies to show for it. As a result, I better understand how not to judge anyone. Instead I pray for them.

It was tragic to see Britney Spears shaving her hair or witness Lindsey Lohan’s struggles. It was tragic to hear of Michael and Whitney’s untimely deaths. I was saddened to learn this week that Leaf, a former No. 1 National Football League draft choice, was sentenced to prison for burglary to support his substance abuse. I often wonder if some people’s self-medicating is due in part to the expectations and pressure placed on them by society. Don’t get me wrong – I am not condoning their actions. I believe you make your decisions and your decisions make you. But I am asking for more empathy. Metaphorically, I don’t want to see another wounded soldier die. No party, movie or award can compare to a human life. Not only does it not matter in the end, it is of very little worth now.

A report from ESPN during an interview with Muhammad Ali shared some insight on fame from the former heavyweight boxing champion. Ali was giving him a tour of his farm. They entered a barn and pictures of Ali were leaning against the base of the walls. They noticed that bird droppings had covered many of the pictures.

One by one, Ali walked over, bent down, and turned the pictures around. As he stood up and walked by a sportswriter, Ali said something so low that the reporters asked him to repeat himself.

Ali stopped and turned to him and said, “I had the world…and it wasn’t nothing.”

Here is my advice to anyone not feeling worthy – choose to believe the report of the Lord instead of man.

God loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you. He says that “you are beautiful and wonderfully made. And that you are precious in His sight.”

As for Manti Te’o, give  the guy a break. After all, hasn’t he been beaten up enough by Alabama?


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