Sunday, October 5, 2008

No One's Perfect: Grace Abounds

Some of you may have heard that an NFL referee, Ed Hochuli, recently made a mistake at a crucial time in an NFL game involving the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos that influenced the eventual outcome of the game. Earlier this year in an ESPN poll, Hochuli had been voted one of the top two referees in all of the NFL by the NFL coaches themselves. What some of you may not have heard is that the referee took complete responsibility for his mistake, apologized to the Chargers and their fans, and vowed to personally respond to every angry e-mail sent to him. Unfortunately, he apparently even received death threats from some irate, over-the-top fans. A friend of mine was touched by this story and gave me permission to share an e-mail he sent to Mr. Hochuli along with Mr. Hochuli's response. I think you'll find it well worth your time to read. Their correspondence was as follows (I've changed my friend's name to Drew to protect his identity): Dear Ed, I’ve read a few articles about the game last weekend and heard you’ve been getting some rough e-mails from some upset fans. I also heard that you were personally responding to all of those e-mails. Hence, I simply wanted to let you know what a class act I think you are. We’ve never met, but I’ve watched you work many games on TV over the years. As I trust we’ve both heard before, the true character of a man is measured not in how he handles prosperity but in how he responds to adversity. I was taught the nine most difficult words to say for many folks are also the nine most important words to say in relationships; “I was wrong, I am sorry, please forgive me.” Ed, you’re in my prayers and I simply wanted you to hear from one football fan that your character is measuring up phenomenally well during this time of adversity. No one is perfect, but how you’ve handled yourself since your honest mistake, with class and dignity, is a model for us all. Three and a half years ago, my father was on his death bed dying of cancer. He and I were very close and we knew this would likely be our last intelligible conversation before he passed away. The last words my father said to me before the Lord took him home were, quoting the philosopher G. K. Chesterton, “The comedy of life will always out survive the tragedy of life.” Obviously that wasn’t a humorous moment for either one of us, nor is your current situation. I’m sure the paradoxical irony and meaning behind his message to me, and now to you, is not lost on you. I simply wanted you to know that there are fans out there who respect you more than we did a week ago. No one is perfect, and as a lifelong Cowboy fan, I’ve seen Norv Turner make more than one mistake in his career. As for me, thanks for modeling for our society how to handle adversity; with dignity, class, humility, and respect. You’ll remain in my prayers. Best wishes to you. - Drew
Yours is a very touching email, Drew, and I thank you for that. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life, and especially the last words of your father. I do very much appreciate it. All my best. - Ed King Solomon once scribed, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Consider saying something uplifting to someone today with no alterior motive. Imagine what a loving, Jesus-like, world that would look like if love were ablaze? Are you ready for some LIFE football?