“Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent – discerning, when he seals his lips.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Most mornings when I sit down to write, I have a pretty good idea of what I will be writing about. I make it a point to be in the Scriptures every day, and as I read and study, when something catches my eye, I write a little blurb that gives me enough to go on later. Those blurbs get saved in the notes section of my Bible app (the YouVersion Bible App whose website is here) and become the kernels of ideas that get fleshed out into blogs later. Sometimes what you are seeing on here is an idea I first had two or three weeks prior. Fridays, though, have become days to reflect more intentionally on where the Scriptures intersect with culture, usually in the form of a review of a recent TV series or movie I’ve watched. This morning I’m going to shake things up. While I am still planning on writing up a review of the latest Spider-Man movie, and had initially planned on that being today, this morning, I’m hopefully excited about NFL Playoff Football this weekend. Here are a few fun thoughts I’ve had this week with all of that in mind.
Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln are two of the more quotable figures of America’s past. Both of them are famous for saying something along the lines of, “It is better to remain quiet and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The idea of that particular proverb is pretty straightforward. As long as someone keeps their mouth shut, they just may be the smartest person in the room. After all, how many times have you been around someone you considered to be really wise. But you didn’t really know much about him except that he didn’t speak very often. When words flow out in abundance, though, a person’s folly is often quickly laid bare.
In offering up such a quip, neither man was being original. They were both quoting from Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent – discerning, when he seals his lips.” The world was recently given a great opportunity to find out just how true this idea is.
I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I am a Kansas City Chiefs fan. This Sunday they will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Kansas City for the AFC Championship Game. That would be the fourth AFC Championship Game in a row for the Chiefs…just saying. The Chiefs, of course, are led by Patrick Mahomes, one of the most talented and successful quarterbacks in recent memory. It seems like every single week he is leaving the sporting world speechless in wonder at another incredible play or feat of raw talent. The Bengals are helmed by sophomore quarterback, Joe Burrow, who was the star of the terrific LSU Tigers college team of the 2019-20 season, a campaign that rightly garnered him the Heisman Trophy.
Sometimes young athletes like to run their mouths out a bit ahead of their brains when talking up themselves and their teams ahead of a particularly big game. Such bravado is a long-standing trait of confident young men. In an interview ahead of the game earlier this week, Burrow was asked about his thoughts on playing at the Chiefs home, Arrowhead Stadium, the loudest stadium in the NFL. He responded by saying, “In the SEC every single week, it seems like, that every stadium is really loud. There’s hundreds of thousands of people. This one is gonna be similar.” In other words, SEC stadiums are louder than Arrowhead.
Perhaps. Probably not. What Burrow may or may not have understood is that Kansas City fans take a special pride in the decibel levels they manage to achieve on their home field. Long heralded as one of the loudest stadiums in the league, some aspiring Seattle fans started boasting they were louder. They even brought the good folks of the Guinness World Records out to measure themselves. And they managed to just barely eclipse the record previously held by…Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs fans collectively said, “Challenge accepted,” invited the Guinness folks out the next season (at a cost of $7,500) and promptly shattered Seattle’s record…and remain the record holder for the loudest stadium in the world to this day. The loudest volume ever measured at LSU’s Death Valley stadium was 130 decibels. Arrowhead’s world record is 142.2. I understand what he was trying to do in responding to the reporter’s question like he did, but he unwittingly challenged Kansas City fans at a point of particular pride for them. I suspect the stadium volume levels Sunday afternoon will be a bit more than he has experienced in a game before. We’ll see if his folly is fully revealed on the field.
And since we’re on the subject of football and wisdom, when the Chiefs managed to emerge victorious over the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday evening in what was immediately heralded as one of the greatest football games ever played, the primary point of discussion this past week has been the NFL’s bizarre overtime rules. The current rules functionally mean that whichever team manages to win the coin toss at the beginning of the overtime period will win the game. The losing team is not even guaranteed a chance to touch the ball.
True to form, when Mahomes managed to drive the Chiefs from Buffalo’s 25-yard line to within field goal range (especially for a kicker looking to redeem himself after missing two critical kicks earlier in the game that would have allowed them to avoid overtime entirely) in 13 seconds, tying the game and sending the contest into overtime, Kansas City won the toss, drove the field for a touchdown, and the game was over. Keep in mind that number.
Now, even as a fan who was deliriously excited about the thrilling overtime victory, I think the NFL’s overtime rules are unfair. This is particularly true because in the 2019 AFC Championship Game pitting the New England Patriots, led by legendary quarterback, Tom Brady, against the Kansas City Chiefs’ unbelievably talented sophomore, Patrick Mahomes, after leading for most of the game, Brady did what Brady always does (except this past Sunday), drove the Patriots down for a final score with seconds remaining on the clock, and sent the game into overtime. New England won the toss and Brady coolly drove them down for a touchdown and the game was over.
In the weeks after the game, Chiefs’ owner, Clark Hunt, son of the NFL legend, Lamar Hunt, made a concerted push to get the NFL to change the rules to allow for both teams to have a chance to score rather than just one. Several teams supported the measure but enough didn’t, and so it didn’t go anywhere. Do you know which team was among those who were not interested in changing the rules? The Buffalo Bills. They voted against it in favor of maintaining the status quo, offering all of us a painful lesson in the fact that you should be careful what you wish for.
One last thing. Bills’ fans, affectionately dubbed the “Bill’s Mafia,” have a wonderful tradition of making charitable donations to charities in the cities of the teams they defeat. For instance, after the Bills defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last year, the Bill’s Mafia donated more than $500,000 to a charity supported by Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson. We’ll call the whole thing a fun example of loving your enemies.
This week, fresh off their victory over Buffalo, Kansas City fans honored the Bill’s Mafia by donating – so far – $300,000 to the Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. (If you want to join in the fun, here’s the link to do so.) And just to make sure you know the amount is something you can probably afford, those donations have come from almost 24,000 fans. Why so many? Because the donations have all been made in increments of $13. That’s one dollar for each second it took Mahomes to lead us to overtime and victory. I believe that’s called generosity with a wink.
Have a wonderful weekend, watch what should be at least one really good football game on Sunday (especially if the outcome is as most prognosticators are expecting), and remember that the Gospel covers every part of our lives. The Christian worldview is not merely for the hour you spend in worship on Sunday morning. It is for all of life. Everything can (and should) be filtered through its lens. This will serve not only to make you more righteous, it’ll make life more fun. Go and have some righteous fun. There’s no better kind. Blessings to you.