Archive for January 3, 2008
Mike Singletary says he wasn’t born a leader. He became one on the football field. ’85 Chicago Bears in to one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the NFL. Then, after his playing career ended, he became a leader on the sidelines as coach. But Singletary took on his most important leadership role when he decided to make his family a priority. Watch this snapshot as we share stories of those who are leading and changing lives right where they are.
The Los Angeles Times writes about the faith of the Fighting Illini’s middle linebacker J Leman as a preview of the Rose Bowl, which features the surprisingly talented Fighting Illini versus the USC on the first day of 2008:
God promised he would go to Illinois and that’s what happened, the Illini offering a scholarship a few games before his high school career ended. When he suffered back pain heading into his freshman year, the result of one leg being slightly shorter than the other, he asked others to pray for him.
“I got prayed for 30 times and nothing happened,” he said. “Then a guy said ‘Let me try one more time.’ I checked my leg length, and it was the same length. It took a couple of months, but, since then, I’ve been fine.”
These stories roll out of him excitedly but not the least bit heavy-handed. There is no ulterior motive because Leman does not demand that you believe; the young man is merely telling you what he believes.
Last winter, he underwent ankle surgery and could not seem to heal, the pain causing him to sit out spring practice. Finally, Leman says, God told him to ignore the injury. Just run.
The play was 48 Toss, and 30 years later, Dick Vermeil remembers it as if he called it last Sunday. Herb Lusk took a pitch from Ron Jaworski, headed around left end, and breezed unscathed 70 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Four steps over the goal line at Giants Stadium, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ running back rewrote the playbook. Alone in the end zone, with a crowd of 48,824 looking on, he celebrated with a gesture in what has since become a watershed moment in American sports.
With little ceremony and no advance warning, Lusk kept his eyes straight, dropped to his left knee, and bowed his head in prayer. A few seconds later, he stood back up and returned to the sideline, his legacy sealed.
“Herb Lusk was the first NFL player to kneel in the end zone and pray,” said Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, which has footage of more than 9,000 games played since 1894.
It was Lusk’s second touchdown of the day. His first was a one-yard score in the first quarter. He went to one knee on that one as well, but in a pack of celebrating teammates, few noticed what he was doing. His second score, which put the wraps on a 28-10 Eagles win, was a clear public display. (more…)
As popular Sunday customs, watching the National Football League and attending church seem to go together. Players who thank Jesus for victory have almost become a cliché. At the Super Bowl last February, coaches Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears—the first African American head coaches in the big game—talked freely about their faith.
“I think it’s great that we’re able to show the world not only that African American coaches can do it, but Christian coaches can do it in a way that we still can win,” Dungy said at the time. Added Smith: “God is the center of my life. I hope I don’t have to spend my time telling my players I’m a Christian. I hope they see it in my life every day.”
With Christian players and coaches in the spotlight, some have wondered whether the NFL welcomes the image they project. Indeed, the league has made some decisions that could indicate otherwise:
- In February, the NFL sent a cease-and-desist order to an Indianapolis church that had planned a Super Bowl party.
- In the early 1990s, the league tried to discourage midfield prayer huddles after games.
- When journeyman quarterback Jon Kitna wore a cap displaying a cross after a 2004 game, the league fined him $5,000 for violating the rule that only NFL apparel can be worn during postgame interviews. (more…)
When Auburn meets Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl tonight in the Georgia Dome, the defensive and offensive coordinators will handle the drama on the field.
Auburn’s “spiritual coordinator” troubleshoots the drama off the field.
Williams became known as one of the hardest-working, fiery team players until his playing time got cut and he started partying. Punishment in those days was Williams running the stadium or coliseum with a concrete block strapped to his back, until he threw up, then again until he passed out.Chette (pronounced Chet) Williams grew up fierce and angry in Douglasville, and his bad-to-the-bone attitude made him an Auburn linebacker then got him kicked off the team. (more…)
Georgia Head Football Coach Mark Richt talks about his faith – that Jesus is more important than any football game. Richt also had a small role in the movie “Facing The Giants.”