CHRISTIAN PONDER AND THE MOSES FACTOR

[Note:  This is a piece by David Nieminen ]

I never really liked Sunday School.  I grew up in a religious family squarely positioned in the Bible Belt, where regular church attendance was not only expected, it was required. 

 

Given that background, my mind is muddled with story after story of Biblical heroes and events, none of which seemed to have any tangible bearing on my life.  However, recent events in college football have drawn a startling parallel to a Biblical tale celebrated by Jews and Christians alike.

 

Recall Moses—the basket-bound, underestimated hero of the Biblical Exodus.  Rising to Egyptian prominence in unlikely fashion, Moses demands freedom for the Hebrew slaves and leads them on a forty-year scenic route through the wilderness to the "Promised Land." 

 

While not to belittle the value of further detail, the part of the story that always interested me is that Moses never made it.  After finally viewing the Promised Land from a distance, Moses died, and his underling, Aaron, made the final push to paradise.

 

For the last several years, the Florida State University football team has been trapped in a similar cycle of wandering through wilderness—a wilderness of mediocrity.  An improbable leader arose, though, with his likeable personality, innate talent, intangible leadership ability, superior work ethic, and the mental and physical toughness to put it all to good use.  He played his heart out, Seminole Nation, and he led his team to an elevated outcropping overlooking football’s Promised Land—the championship level of play and national relevance that FSU fans have been craving since the turn of the century.  He was never perfect, but he was perfect for this role.     

 

And yet, Christian Ponder never won a championship; he never even played in the ACC Championship Game.  He never tasted the milk and honey.  And, true to spirit of the Moses story, Christian Ponder’s college football career died at the 2010 Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, just as the whole of the Promised Land came into view.  The comparison could not have been more obvious, as he handed off control of the tribe to E.J. Manuel and drew his dying breaths through the chants of Seminole victory.

 

The lifecycle of any athletic program is riddled with peaks and valleys of varying grades and intensity, and certainly, the Florida State University has known its share.  But, Seminole Nation, I urge you not to overlook the Moses of your people—the leader on whom the program’s salvation so heavily relied.  Thank you, Christian Ponder.  Thanks for everything.

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