Coming up a yard short

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Imagine how you would feel. You’re a professional football player, earning zillions of dollars and enjoying the adulation of fans. In short, you’re the man.

You’re playing a game on national television – the storied Monday Night Football no less – when you realize your number is being called. The play is designed so you will go deep, catch a pass and, hopefully, scamper into the end zone. 

The ball is snapped, you sprint down the sidelines and realize you’re open. You look over your shoulder, see the ball headed your way, pull it in and start running. It becomes clear you’re going to make it to the end zone, capping off a 60-plus yard play. You’re making your way to the end zone, already picturing the highlights on ESPN. You toss back the ball in celebration, looking up at the Jumbotron so you can see the replay of your triumph. That’s when you realize there’s a problem. It seems you had not crossed the goaline when you tossed the ball back to begin your celebration. 

No touchdown.

No celebration.

No clue.

That was the scene Monday night when Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson made one of the most bone-headed plays I’ve ever seen. The announcers were dumfounded, his teammates looked mad and his coach seemed as he wanted to take him behind the woodshed. 

Jackson, who, to his credit did look embarrassed, just wondered over the sideline and seemed immensely grateful when the Eagles really scored one play later.

There’s an old saying about not letting your mouth write a check that your backside can’t cash. I guess in the case of DeSean Jackson, you shouldn’t let your ego write a check your feet haven’t cashed.

Of course, it’s easy to do. Who hasn’t stepped out on a limb, proclaiming they had something all figured out only to fall more than a little short?  Who hasn’t vowed they could do something only to fall on their face?

Ask anyone who’s said they were a master waterskier only to fall on their face second after getting on their feet. Ask the person who promises they can handle a plumbing task then manages to tear up their entire bathroom. Or, ask the young girl in sixth grade who told her entire class she would win the annual patriotic poster contest, only to come in a distant third (wait. That one hits a little too close to home).

Embarrassment happens to all of us and, as bad as it is, you are able to get up, dust yourself off and move on. Or, in the case of DeSean Jackson, get up, duck your head and hope you can score that touchdown later.