Ever wondered how you will be remembered in life? Will it be for great accomplishments, great contributions, or great investments in a community? Or will you be one of those folks that are remembered not for your successes (though there may be many), but for that moment in time when you really flubbed up.
Leon Lett. Nice name. It has a bit of a ring to it. However, unless you are a true NFL football fan, it’s probably not a name that rings a bell for you. So let me fill you in on Leon.
Leon played in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys from 1991 to 2000. Leon was a great defensive tackle and the anchor of an even greater defensive line that helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls during Leon’s career (1993, 1994, 1996). He even made All Pro (league all-star for his position). The first time in 1994 and the second time during the 1996 season.
Leon is remembered, not for his success, but for a great and costly error that directly cost the Cowboys a game. The blooper (ranked number three on both the fans and experts list) occurred while the Cowboys were leading the Miami Dolphins 14-13 with just seconds left on the clock. The Dolphins attempted a 41-yard field-goal. If they made it the game would be theirs. Miss it, Dallas would retain the lead and gain the victory. The Dolphins center snapped the ball. The holder lined it up. The place-kicker took his two steps and swept his foot. The contact was solid, however a Cowboy player slipped through the line to block the kick. The ball should have fallen silent and dead effectively ending the play and the Dolphins chances for victory. Leon’s teammates jumped and shouted in celebration, but not Leon. Leon committed a boneheaded football no-no. He attempted to recover the football as though it had been fumbled. In his attempt, he knocked it away from himself and, since he had touched it, put the ball back into play. The Dolphins recovered the ball on the one yard line. They kicked again. This time the ball sailed through the goal-posts. Miami 16. Dallas 14. Miami, winners. Dallas, losers.
This third greatest sports blooper ever overshadowed his greatness. The rest of the season was fantastic. Leon anchored the defensive line once again. The Cowboys went on to another victory in Super Bowl XXVIII. During this second of Leon’s three Super Bowl victories, Leon forced a fumble from the Buffalo Bill’s running back, Thurman Thomas, while the Cowboys trailed 13-6. James Washington, the Cowboys safety, recovered the ball and took it 46 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown brought the Cowboys even with the Bills and turned the momentum to their advantage. The Cowboys went on to win 30-13.
For Leon, the late-night and Saturday afternoon highlights never recall those great moments… only the bloopers. Not the victories. Not the success. Not the high-fives. Not the cheers. Just the jeers. Just the agony of personal defeat. Just the lonely specter of personal failure. One can only wonder how bad Leon must have felt. I’ve been there. You probably have too. Whatcha’ gonna’ do about it? (copied). “Forgetting what is behind and stretching to what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14).