The Integrity of #9

Football is in the air.  Weekends are spent watching back to back games, indulging in afternoon Bloody Marys, and screaming for a favorite quarterback as the countdown to the Superbowl commences.  Like millions of sports enthusiasts, I poured over Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” article, naming Drew Brees the most influential, resolute, steadfast, and honest gentleman in sports today.

Most of his renown is due to his leadership in bringing a Lombardi trophy to a stricken city.  Much of it is for his charities that raise millions of dollars a year, the schools that he visits, the children and adults he influences.  Despite his successes, his role as a father and husband is of what he is most proud. In his memoir, he wrote,  “… when I put the ring on Brittany’s finger, I said, ‘For better or for worse, till death do us part.’ Period. No matter how bad it could possibly get, I am committed. It’s not about happiness. It’s not about a feeling. I committed myself to her for the rest of my life, and I promise never to walk away.”

Reading about that kind of trust and devotion made me realize how rare it is. Why is that?  To find a person who keeps his word and believes that trust and faith are the foundations of a shared life. Someone who doesn’t just say it, but means it.  Someone who leads life with integrity and truth.  I want to live in a world where a person like this is the norm and not a celebrated exception.

Drew’s teammate, Jon Stinchcomb said, “If a father gives his kid a number 9 Saints jersey, he’s probably never going to have to do any explaining about the guy who wears that jersey.” He is steadfast and strong, and no one need question his certainty or integrity.  “What” and “if” are not in his vocabulary. For these are two words that separately can neither offend nor hold one back from living life… but put them together and they hold the power to haunt.  Together, they breed remorse and flatten courage. They cause a desire to change others, without regard for how it may change the rest of who they are.  In their adjacency, they open a door to regret and loss.  If I could make a wish, it would be to keep those two words as far away from each other as humanly possible. “What if” should have no place in our lives, and I can only hope I keep them out of mine.  Because he can, Brees is unstoppable.

It goes without saying that before you demand better of others, you should demand better of yourself.  Every thought, every word, every action, every truth and every lie….whether they serve you or not, changes everything.  Each of us is on our own path and we all learn at different times and for different reasons.  We all make choices that show our integrity, or lack thereof.  I suppose the whole point is to wake up with the sun and make the most honorable, truthful ones…day in and day out, for as long as we’re allowed.


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