Bob Tamasy: The Key To Overcoming Crushing Mistakes

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

If you’re a football history buff, you’ve probably heard about “Wrong Way” Roy Riegels. Even if you’re not, we all can learn a lot from his memorable mistake – and the way he reacted to it.


On Jan. 1, 1929, the California Bears were playing Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl. An outstanding athlete, Riegels played on both the offensive and defensive lines. In the second quarter of the game, one of his teammates fumbled the ball at Georgia Tech’s 30-yard line. Riegels picked up the ball and started running with it – except in the wrong direction, toward his own team’s goal line. He was finally tackled at the Bears’ one-yard line, by one of his own teammates.


Georgia Tech scored a two-point safety on the next play, and those points made the difference in Tech’s 8-7 victory, which gave them their second national championship.

For most observers, Riegels’ stunning mistake was responsible for his team’s defeat.


Many people haven’t heard what happened when Riegels returned to the sideline. Understandably distraught, he told his coach, Nibs Price, he wasn’t going back on the field. “Coach, I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined myself, I’ve ruined the University of California. I couldn’t face the crowd to save my life.”


Price looked in the eyes and responded, “Roy, get up and go back out there – the game is only half over.”


He did, and played an outstanding second half, including blocking a punt. Despite his efforts, Riegels’ team fell one point short, magnifying the two points Georgia Tech had scored because of his errant run.


But he put the embarrassment and notoriety behind him, being named team captain his senior season, earning All-America honors, and helping California to a 7-1-1 record. Riegels refused to let the stigma of his wrong-way run turn into a life-crushing mistake.


Most of us don’t have to live down the infamy of such a public blunder. I’ve never experienced running the right direction on a football field, let alone the wrong one. But we’ve all made mistakes in our lives, some so minor that hardly anyone knows about them, but others that haunt us to this day.


As with Riegels, we can’t rewind those moments or erase them. Typically, our stumbles in life don’t offer us a do-over – or a mulligan, if you’re a golfer. We must face the consequences, and sometimes they’re severe. At such times we have two choices: We can crumble under their weight, or we can heed the advice of Riegels’ coach: “The game is only half over.”


One of the distinctive qualities of the Bible is its candor. It doesn’t varnish or sugarcoat the stories of its main characters. They’re presented in all their flaws, along with their sins. For instance, we have King David of Israel, who committed adultery with a married woman and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle, hoping to cover up his misdeed. There’s impetuous Peter, who boasted of never forsaking Jesus – and then did exactly that. Then there’s Saul (later named Paul), who devoted his life as a zealous Pharisee to persecuting Christians. And many others.


Each recognized their sins but didn’t let those define them. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, he did not deny his wrongdoing or offer excuses. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13), and later wrote, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:1-12).


Peter denied Christ three times while He was facing a Roman inquisition, but unlike Judas Iscariot, the apostle refused to let that be his final act. As we read in John 21:15-19, after Jesus’ resurrection, He restored Peter by asking him – three times – if he loved Him. Each time Peter would reply, “You know that I love you,” after which Jesus said, “Follow Me.”


Numerous times Paul had the opportunity to give testimony of his divine encounter with Jesus while traveling on the road to Damascus. The experience immediately took then-Saul off the persecution circuit and transformed him into a fearless ambassador for his Lord.


In 2 Corinthians 2:1-3, the once proud and self-confident Paul confessed to believers in Corinth, “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.”


Each of these men, and many others in the Scriptures, committed seemingly unforgivable acts, and yet God forgave them completely. As it says in Psalm 103:12, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”


This can be our experience as well, knowing that whatever we’ve done is part of our history, but need not be part of our future – if we repent of it, entrust it to the Lord, and receive His spiritual healing and forgiveness. As Paul wrote late in his life and ministry, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).


Like Roy Riegels, the game isn’t over for us yet.


* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is His email address is

"G.O.A.T." Is Sermon Topic Sunday At Metro Tab Church

Bob Tamasy: Like It Or Not, We're In A War - And We're All Enlisted

"Freedom Is Real" Is Topic Sunday At Middle Valley Church Of God

All are invited to join the Metro Tab Church experience this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at 2101 West Shepherd Road in Chattanooga. The message will be titled "G.O.A.T." and will be preached by ... (click for more)

Music is always in a state of flux. One day’s rage of rhythms and melodies soon become footnotes in musical history books. Think disco, the twist, bee-bop, doo-wop, and the cha-cha. We still ... (click for more)

Middle Valley Church of God, 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will be preaching on the topic "Freedom Is Real" on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Alex Baker will be ... (click for more)


"G.O.A.T." Is Sermon Topic Sunday At Metro Tab Church

All are invited to join the Metro Tab Church experience this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at 2101 West Shepherd Road in Chattanooga. The message will be titled "G.O.A.T." and will be preached by Pastor Steve Ball. "The atmosphere has been so charged and we are declaring that this is not church as usual," officials said. "This is a movement of God and we don't want you to miss ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Like It Or Not, We're In A War - And We're All Enlisted

Music is always in a state of flux. One day’s rage of rhythms and melodies soon become footnotes in musical history books. Think disco, the twist, bee-bop, doo-wop, and the cha-cha. We still hear and see them sometimes, but for the most part they’re regarded as candidates for the Smithsonian. The same holds true for Christian music. In many churches today, time-honored, traditional ... (click for more)

Breaking News

EPA Awarding Brownfield Grant At Site Of Planned Lookouts Stadium

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe on Wednesday is set to present the city of Chattanooga with Brownfield program cleanup and assessment grants at the site of a planned new $79.5 million stadium to be used by the Lookouts. The press conference will be at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site. The grant is "to help spur economic revitalization ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Couple Describes Frightening Home Invasion

A Chattanooga couple on Friday morning described a frightening home invasion that a Memphis pair are accused of committing. Charges were bound to the Grand Jury against Darion Merriweather and William Edward Farmer IV. Judge Gerald Webb increased the bond for their aggravated burglary charges to $75,000. Farmer and Merriweather are facing two counts of kidnapping, aggravated ... (click for more)


22 Questions And Concerns About A New $79.5 Million Lookouts Stadium

The proposal for the Lookouts stadium brings forth several questions that I have not gotten good answers yet from anyone. 1. If the 10 acres Gary Chazen is donating is worth $10,000,000, why doesn’t he and his partners just sell the 140 acres and go to the bank with over $100,000,000? 2. There has been over a billion dollars of new construction in downtown Chattanooga ... (click for more)

New Stadium Does Not Pass The Smell Test - And Response

I can't find any logical reasons that the new Lookout stadium is being placed where it is other than to think it's a combination of favoritism and eliminating an eyesore. All statistics point to an illogical decision coupled with questionable tax breaks/support. Lookouts average attendance in 2018 (all that I could quickly find) was 3,206 per game and ranked 74th among ... (click for more)