Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The six inches in front of your face

The other day, I happened across Al Pacino's "Game of Inches" monologue from Any Given Sunday. I was floored, it's so good; what mussar! I'm a sucker for blood-and-guts inspirational monologues.

Here's the transcript, which really doesn't do Pacino's voice, emphasis and heart justice. (You can find a video here; note that it includes profanity.)

I don’t know what to say really.

Three minutes till the biggest battle of our professional lives; all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished. We’re in hell right now gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here and get the s* kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back, into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch at a time.

Now, I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around and I see these young faces and I think. I mean, I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I p*ed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who has ever loved me. And, lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know, when you get old in life, things get taken away from you. That’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half step too early or too late and you don’t quite make it. One half-second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game; every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s what gonna make the f*ing difference between winning - and losing. Between living - and dying.

I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what living is. The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can’t make you do it. You have to look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes. Now I think you're gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it; you're gonna do the same for him.

That’s a team gentlemen. And, either we heal, now as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football, guys. That’s all it is.

Now, what are you gonna do ?

One funny thing, though - when Pacino says "I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what living is," I hear Stallone/Rocky telling his son in Rocky Balboa, "But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"

My imagination? Coincidence? Or imitation, the sincerest form of flattery?


  1. It is not coincidence. The genre has been filled with a lot of movies that are similar. But not all of them manage to make that sort of impression upon us.

  2. Jack-
    Maybe we should develop a list of the ones we would recommend?

  3. Ugh. How sad that people can muster up that kind of emotion for footbal - I mean, football! - but not for really important things.

  4. Got a sermon to give. What are you talking about this shabbat? you going to post? Great speech by Rabbi Pacino. Brad

  5. AnonyBrad-
    Not sure yet. Thinking about ויבז עשו את הבכורה.

    That was pretty much my Rebbetzin's reaction, too... Women.