Summary: The Super Bowl and Nehemiah. How Nehemiah gained yards after contact.
1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,
7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. 8They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
The Super Bowl, between the Seahawks and Steelers this year, is the single most watched TV/Internet event of the year. Over 1 billion people will tune in. America’s armed forces will watch the game at 2:30 AM in Iraq. This single sports event brings even the casual observer to the sports dinner table. Sitting alongside the rabid fan is the fair-weathered sports observer who jumps on the bandwagon for a variety of reasons. Johnny-come-lately needs a Super Bowl place setting. Many who tune in will be introduced to a glossary of football terms unknown in their daily language: offsides, instant replay, nickel defense.
Super Bowl 40 analyst John Madden, former professional football coach and Hall of Fame inductee, years ago coined the phrase, “Yards after Contact.” YAC is an acrostic that represents the number of yards a running back makes after an opponent hits him. 1
Today as you watch Seahawk Shawn Alexander shred the Steelers defense much of his success will be determined by this stat: YAC. Some runners go down after initial contact. Others fumble the ball to the opposing team causing a change in game momentum. Great runners who pile up Yards after Contact keep their legs churning, turn their shoulders toward the goal, and make first downs and touch downs in this critical statistical zone. Simply put, if they are to be stopped, they keep moving and require many hits and multiple players to bring them down.
On this Super Bowl Sunday in Seattle (Marysville), Washington, some of you sitting here need to add this term to your Christian vocabulary. In fact, you need to go a step further and make this term a regular part of your daily Christian life. Let’s be honest, when hit by the opposition, it is tempting to quit. When tackled by the opposition, some would prefer to throw the ball down and say, “I quit. I am taking my ball and going home!”
Sitting here today is a friend striving to save a marriage when they get blindsided by the enemy and think of quitting. Someone has chosen to believe by faith for a healing when suddenly the opposition has shaken your confidence with a bad report and you simply exclaim, “What’s the use?”
In our text we are introduced to a Hall of Fame runner named Nehemiah. He piled up more Yards after Contact than any other Old Testament leader, starting in chapter 4 after a successful first half of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
6So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
Nehemiah discovers that advancing the football has suddenly become an almost impossible task. After the second half kick-off, Nehemiah’s team goes - three downs and a punt.