Cracking the Rock

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A sledgehammer game. That’s what Sunday was. Not pretty, not full of highlight reel plays or over thinking. It was basically a double-fisted two chin-strap head banger’s ball in the trenches.

As a youngster, I drew the dubious duty one day of having to break up some stone with a sledge. Whack, whack, whack. Nothing. Whack, then whack some more. Hardly a scratch. One hour rolled by, and then another.

“Stay with it boy,” said my grandfather. “Get some muscle into it.” I think that was the first day I heard the word perseverance. Or at least got a hands on understanding of what the word meant. To keep swinging that sledge, over and over again while nothing close to a crack appearing took a mind-set that I wasn’t sure I had.

And then, after blisters started forming, and my back and arms were on fire, low and behold out of nowhere, a crack appeared. After more suffering the crack looked like a spider-web. This spurred me on. I was now galvanized. I had to finish the rock off. And finally, with a swing that was the equivalent of an Ironman Triathlon competitor staggering across the finish line in Honolulu, it broke. Much joy was had I will tell you over that giant rock splitting.

The Steelers running game was like me and that dad-gum rock. They hammered away at the “Dirty Birds” like I swung that hammer. First quarter, then second. Halftime followed by the second half. Whack, whack, whack. Not much more than blisters and aching body parts. Watching from the sidelines I could see the men in the trenches starting to show the effects of a Sunday grind. And then it happened. The rock cracked, then split wide open like in the movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

When Rashard Mendenhall “took it to the house” on Sunday against the Falcons, I watched as the offensive line took off down the field after Rashard to celebrate with the sudden burst of energy that only cracking a rock will give you. Lay down the hammers men, get some rest.

Just like I found out years ago as a young buck, there’s always another rock.