Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday's Musings on Sports - Moss Can't Grow on This Stone

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago, I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Today the news broke late in the day that the Minnesota Vikings were releasing Randy Moss. This came as a surprise to many, as the Vikings had just traded for Moss less than a month before. Furthermore, if no team claimed Moss on waivers, the Vikings would be required to pay the balance of his 2010 salary (approximately $3 million) even though he would not play another game for them.

Having not watched the Vikings-Patriots game yesterday, I was unaware of Moss' having given up on a pass play shortly before Brett Favre got hurt. Still, Moss' recent history of misbehavior and criticism of teammates and management on both the Patriots and Vikings has been well publicized. But why would a team in desperate need of wide receivers, release a player who was one of the more talented in the game?

The answer of course is that sometimes a team (or person) needs to make a tough decision to do without something which might be beneficial in the short term, but much more damaging in the long term.

I heard a story from Rabbi Zev Cohen over Sukkos which drives this point home. There was a man named Conrad who had recently finished college with a degree in accounting. His brothers were involved with a bank and they offered him a senior position in the bank's accounting department. Conrad interviewed with them and during the interview he asked whether the bank was closed on Shabbos. They answered him that the bank was not shomer shabbos and that he needed to make a choice as to whether he wanted the "job of the lifetime" or to keep Shabbos. He told them that Shabbos was more important and they told him not to bother coming back.

Many years later, Conrad was invited to the ground breaking of his son's yeshiva. While he was digging, Conrad was seen saying something, but no one was sure of what he was intoning. His son asked him and he told him that he was repeating the line from Tehillim - Even Ma'asu Habonim Haisa L'Rosh Pina.

Conrad then explained that a few years before he had received a call from his brother who told him that he was dying and that he wanted Conrad to visit. Conrad flew out and was picked up by a chauffeured limousine. When Conrad arrived at the brother's palatial estate, the two began to catch up on things. The brother talked about his business, but had little to say about his children. Conrad indicated that he had done modestly well in business, but that his children had become successful rabbanim who had their own yeshivos and daughters who were happily married and raising children.

Conrad's brother then had a servant fetch his checkbook and he told Conrad that he wanted to give him a check to "buy into" Conrad's business. Conrad told him sadly that it was impossible and he left without the check.

Sometimes the short term answer may seem more attractive, but the long term effects of compromising one's standards or morals demonstrate that the more appropriate tasks is to say no.

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