Read all about returner’s magic should be special

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rhett wesley NQexDDK9P9w unsplash
rhett wesley NQexDDK9P9w unsplash

It’s one of football’s most magical moments. The ball is pitched high over the goalposts and

 the wide receiver catches it with both hands, cradling it to his chest as he runs towards his teammates.

But there’s more to the story than some spectacular playmaking ability on the field of play; 

returns can also be an act of self-sacrifice for all involved parties that beats any kind of return. 

It takes all kinds to make a returner great.

That is why returners should be special; because they’re not mere athletes, but leaders as well.

The rise of speciality sports such as cricket and rugby has made the concept of “club” very important in football. 

A club is a group of people that share a common interest, often as part of a larger group; 

usually the same club will have representation from other sports but it doesn’t stop there. 

We can consider other activities based around other sports, such as golf and tennis: we call them “sports clubs”.

Football clubs and sports clubs share a lot in common: they’re full of people with the same interest, 

many of those will have other interests as well, and those interests can often bring them together. 

Once those bonds are made, it’s hard to break them.

The returner is the nucleus around which one of those bonds can be constructed: he may not know everyone

 he plays against very well but he knows many people who play alongside him and share his concern for the success of the team.

Returners are club-like; deck chairs . They’re also leaders: for all his team-mates, 

the returner sets the standard and sets an example for them to follow. He goes out there, 

he fights, he works hard. He does everything that they wish they could do.

Jamal Lewis’s 90-yard return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV is well known but it was much more than just a great play. 

This return is the result of one man’s willpower to overcome impossible odds and lead his team to victory, regardless of the personal sacrifice involved.

Lewis received the ball on his own 22 yard line with no time outs remaining, so there was no room for error. 

He ran straight up the middle at the man who had previously knocked him out cold in one tackle—the best safety in football, Rodney Harrison.

The odds were against Lewis. Harrison was renowned for what he did to the opposition; it would take an extraordinary effort by Lewis to beat him. But he did it anyway.

Lewis was free for a little while after the safety’s tackle but Harrison’s tackle was still effective; 

Lewis’ momentum had taken him past Harrison who then started chasing again just in time to meet the running back coming up behind him.

Seeing that opportunity, or simply knowing that his team needed it, Lewis put aside his doubts and jogged towards the other safety, 

Rodney Peete, who had recovered from tackling Usher Thomas to pick up the ball. Peete was just about to try and sack the quarterback when Lewis joined him.

“I saw a little opening,” said Lewis, “and I just decided to step in and take it.”

Lewis stepped into the gap between Peete and Harrison. He could have stepped out but that would have been the wrong option: 

he didn’t know how much time he had left, so any misstep would have resulted in a touchdown for his opponents. 

But time wasn’t enough of an excuse. There was very little space between Peete and Harrison 

so Lewis had to side-step through it or go through it. He chose to go through it.

Lewis was too strong for Peete and Harrison couldn’t reach him; the safety was helpless as Lewis pushed him aside, 

ran down the field and forced his way through an entire team to score.

It’s events like this that make returners special; there are very few people in the world who could step up like that without fear of failure.

Returners do not need to be heroes; they already are. People want to be them, but playing football is something 

that they can never be. Yet it’s still possible to define what is required for all would-be returners 

to follow in Jamal Lewis’ footsteps: drive, determination, dedication and loyalty. But it doesn’t end there.

The leader of a returner’s group must be able to set an example for the team to follow. 

This example can be through great or small acts, but all examples are important to the group.

When asked about his team’s performance, Moulds said it was “acceptable”.

 He accepted that his team were not in the best physical shape and that their performance reflected this fact.

Moulds was in full agreement with what he saw when he watched the game again the next day: 

there were many mistakes but they could be corrected in time for their next game.

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