Tuesday, October 09, 2007

There Is A Good Illustration In There Somewhere

Today, while I was in a waiting room, I picked up a USA Today Sports Weekly newspaper. In it was some interesting statistics on Brett Farve, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Now, I am not a Cheesehead but I do like to watch a good quarterback play. I am also not the most avid sports fan (that is Mark's and/or Tony's area). However, I do recognize the makings of a good sermon illustration when I see one. Here is what I am talking about (These stats are old already but they still paint the picture at which I am getting):

The article told how Brett Farve has just tied Dan Marino for career passing touchdowns. They both have 420. In fact, here is the top ten list:

T1. Dan Marino ------420
T1. Brett Farve-------420
3. Fran Tarkenton ----342
4. John Elway---------300
5. Warren Moon------291
6. Johnny Unitas------290
7. Peyton Manning----280
8. Joe Montana-------273
9. Vinny Testaverde--270
10. Dave Krieg--------261
( USA Today Sports Weekly, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2007)

The fact that Farve tied Marino is probably pretty well known as it was publicized when it happened. However, there were a few more statistics that I found interesting and fodder for sermon illustrations.

First, there is another record on which Farve is fast encroaching. He is three interceptions away from having the all time record for career interceptions. Here is the top three list:

1. Geroge Blanda----277
2. Brett Farve-------275
3. John Hadl--------268
( USA Today Sports Weekly, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2007)

It seems to me that these records should be seen side-by-side. For almost every two touchdowns Farve threw, he also threw an interception. If someone only heard that Farve is only two interceptions away to tying the record and three away from stealing this inauspicious title, they may be tempted to think Farve a failure as a quarterback. His failures should be interpreted through his successes. Sure, those interceptions were mistakes, and they made him mad (I'm sure), and it probably hurt the team. But his interceptions did not stop him from trying. He kept throwing and throwing and now he is tied for the all-time record for passing touchdowns.

Another statistic impressed me that I think must be interpreted with the passing touchdown record. Brett Farve has had more consecutive starts by a quarterback in regular season than any other quarterback. Here are the top seven:

Brett Farve, Packers (92-07)----240
Peyton Manning, Colts (98-07)--147
Ron Jaworski, Eagles (77-84)----116
Joe Ferguson, Bills (77-84)------107
Tom Brady, Patriots (01-07)----97
Dan Marino, Dolphins (87-93)---95
Roman Gabriel, Rams (65-72)---89
( USA Today Sports Weekly, Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2007)

It is interesting to note how work ethic and longevity has helped Farve capture the record for passing touchdowns. One wonders if he would have anywhere close to 420 passing touchdowns if he had not started 240 games.

Related to this, the article in USA Today Sports Weekly showed the number of quarterbacks other teams have had since the beginning point of Farve's consecutive starts (beginning in 1992). While I will not tell all of them, Chicago had 20 quarterbacks, Raiders have had 15, Denver has had 13, Indianapolis has had 9. Green Bay has has one. Surely, the cohesiveness of team can be contributed to Farve's longevity and the strength of the team leadership is the reason Farve threw for 420 touchdowns so far in his career.

I am not sure what Scripture passage this could illustrate - Surely verses on a good work ethic and leadership. But I am thinking more about those verses which speak directly to the leaders of the church. Do we stop throwing because we accidentally threw an interception? Or do we keep throwing for the end zone? How can pastors effectively lead the body if they have no longevity? It is these questions that run through my mind when I see these stats.

I am sure there is a good sermon illustration in there somewhere.