When greatness is lost

Greatest manifests itself in so many forms. Lawyers can achieve it in the courtroom. Surgeons can attain it in OR. Athletes can reach it on the field or court or track. Greatness on an individual level is special. So few people can say they’re truly, honestly great at something. It’s often a lifelong search — or so I’m told.

There’s no set way to get there, no finite parameters set for what constitutes greatness. But when you see it, when you witness it, there is no doubt. You always know.

I thought about this a lot on Friday as I watched Tiger Woods shred the back nine at Augusta National. When at his best, there is perhaps no other athlete that is so obviously great, so clearly better than his peers. I don’t know if Tiger Woods will win the Masters this weekend, but it’s impossible to deny that what he did on Friday was a manifestation of greatness.

There was a point in that round — a point when the putts were falling, the approach shots were nestling close to the hole, and the crowd was roaring — when the true absurdity of the NFL’s lockout became evident. Forget about $9 billion for a second. Forget about the squabbling and posturing and complaining and manipulating and lying that’s going on. Forget about the missed minicamps and unsigned free agents.

Greatness happens every Sunday in NFL stadiums. It can be found in all forms. Watching Peyton Manning study and audible and, eventually, shred opposing defenses is great. Seeing Bill Belichick devise a gameplan, motivate his players, and outsmart the opposing sideline is great. Watching Troy Polamalu cover and hustle and blitz is great.

This is why we’re all naturally drawn to sports — and most especially, to football. We want to witness greatness so one day we can say we saw Aaron Rodgers thread the needle or Patrick Willis burry a running back or Tony Gonzalez snag another touchdown catch.

And that’s why we’re all so maddened by the lockout. It’s not that millionaires are fighting with billionaires. It’s not that you need to have a law degree to understand what’s going on right now. It’s not that football has turned into a courtroom chess match completely out of our control.

No, it’s not that at all.

We need football in our lives. We need it to inspire us, to motivate us, to help us get out of bed in the morning. We need it to remind us that greatness is out there, that it is achieved everyday. That can be easy to forget sometimes, easy to overlook amidst the hubbub of our daily lives.

Most of us will never be great at something. Most of us will never reach the peak of our profession. Most of us will never see our highest goals realized. But we need to be reminded that it’s possible, that people do it every day. Tiger Woods did it on Friday at Augusta. Here’s to hoping the lockout ends, a deal is made, and no football is lost. It would be a shame to let greatness go unrealized for no real reason.

Scott Miller is a senior at The University of Iowa and a contributor to the National Football Post. Follow him on Twitter: @stmillr.

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