A Groundhog Day Reflection on the Super Bowl
What do the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day have in common? Absolutely nothing. What do the Super Bowl and the movie, Groundhog Day, have in common? Quite a lot, especially if you are the Seattle Seahawks.
In the movie, Bill Murray plays weatherman Phil Connors, who hates everybody and is doomed to repeat February 2 until he finally learns to care about others. Phil gets many, many chances to get it right.
Unfortunately, in football, when you make the wrong call with 26 seconds to go, you don’t get a second chance. When Seattle dialed up a pass play on New England’s one-yard line, Malcolm Butler intercepted it, clinching a win for the Patriots.
Considering that it was only second down and Seattle had three shots to gain one yard, the entire football world was aghast that the Seahawks didn’t hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the bruising running back known as “Beast Mode.”
Reaction was fast and furious. NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth told viewers, “I absolutely cannot believe that play call.” Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith tweeted: “That was the worst play call I’ve seen in the history of football.” Even Seattle’s own players criticized the call. Defensive end Bruce Irvin said, “We had it. I don’t understand how you don’t give it to the best back in the league.” Cornerback Tharold Simon added, “How do you throw the ball when you got Marshawn Lynch?”
Seattle’s offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell took some responsibility, saying, “Well, you know, I’m calling the plays and I make the calls.” Head coach Pete Carroll nobly fell on his sword, saying “I made the decision.” Bevell wasn’t quite so noble, saying, “We could have done a better job of staying strong through the ball,” blaming receiver Ricardo Lockette for not making a better effort to catch the ball.
As Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin put it, “Everybody is going to want to blame something or somebody.”
It’s been that way since the beginning. In the book of Genesis, Adam told God, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Eve had her own excuse, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
It’s bitter fruit indeed for Seattle. Fans are calling for Bevell to be fired—and worse. Unlike in Groundhog Day, there’s no going back for Bevell.
There was no going back for Adam and Eve, either. God banished them from the Garden of Eden forever. And all of us inherited their sin nature, so now we also mess up—and look for someone to blame.
So is there no hope when we blow it? Well, like Carroll and Bevel, we have to live with the consequences of our poor decisions or wrongdoing. But, unlike in the harsh world of professional sports, God has made a way of forgiveness, through the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus), who took the blame for all of us. As the prophet Isaiah foresaw when he wrote this around 700 B.C.:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4–5)
When we admit to God that we have fallen short of His standards, He gives us a clean slate, and suddenly it’s February 3! We can move out of our Groundhog Day into a new life, with new hope.
Don’t wait till next Groundhog Day for your new start.
Matt Sieger is the editor of ISSUES: A Messianic Jewish Perspective. ISSUES is our publication for Jewish people who are willing to consider the question, Who is Jesus? Matt also writes blogs, articles, and reviews for our publications and has edited the book, Stories of Jews for Jesus.