Luck is an integral part of professional football.
That statement won’t be uttered in many locker rooms around the league, but it is acknowledged by the constant paraphrasing of the Serenity Prayer.
For those not familiar with the Serenity Prayer, it goes like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Some players recite a version of it without understanding or even knowing the religious connotations behind it, but it has been indoctrinated in them for so long by so many of their coaches that it becomes a “go-to” in the cliche holster.
The wisdom behind it is real, though. Embracing it can certainly build serenity in a very pressure-packed profession.
Take Monday night for instance, when the Los Angeles Chargers were in the midst of a glorious comeback, a 44-yard field goal away from taking the Denver Broncos to overtime when rookie Younghoe Koo trotted onto the field with five seconds left.
The South Korean, who spent his formative years in Ridgewood, N.J., before becoming a star at Georgia Southern and ultimately beating out Josh Lambo for the Chargers’ gig, calmly stepped on the field and banged it through.
Calmly like watching a duck swim on top of the water, all the while knowing the legs are working furiously underneath.
Denver rookie head coach Vance Joseph called the timeout right before the play started and Koo was forced to do it again.
“Just iced the kid and see how he reacted,” Joseph said.
The Denver special teams unit reacted even better. Backup defensive lineman Shelby Harris got penetration and a paw on the subsequent kick to save a 24-21 win for the Broncos.
This is where “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” comes into play. The real weak link here was Charger rookie lineman Dan Feeney — Denver knew it.
“I almost blocked [the first] one,” veteran Derek Wolfe said. “I could feel the ball graze my fingers, it was so close.”
The reason was Feeney, according to Wolfe.
“We were knocking him back the whole time,” Wolfe claimed. “Every time they tried to kick a field goal, we were getting a push.”
So, in an impromptu strategy meeting with Harris, Wolfe decided to play Can Naughton Jr. to Harris’s Ricky Bobby, essentially slingshotting the journeyman to glory.
“I was like ‘Shelby just go, just go,'” Wolfe said. “Normally I’m inside, and I was like just go. It was like he was not even there, just blew right by him. It was perfect. I was so happy for him, I tackled him to the ground. He is just such a good guy, works hard and he is a fun guy to be on the field with.”
Derek Wolfe’s unselfishness opened the gap for Harris, who got his hand up as Koo’s consistency actually hurt him.
“It’s not about the individual glory. It takes two to do that though, and so I couldn’t have done it without Wolfe,” Harris admitted. ” That’s a big moment right there.”
And a lucky one as well, which brings us to another time-tested piece of football wisdom: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
On Monday that meant Wolfe and Harris preparing for the opportunity to send Koo searching for serenity.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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