Posted on Saturday, September 15, 2012
in Reviews, Spiritual, Sports
Football and the Christian faith have often been linked, at least superficially, by players and coaches giving “praise” to God for their successes.
Not knowing, but hoping, that their faith was genuine I was thrilled when I saw Curtis Eichelberger’s book Men of Sunday was being published. Subtitled “How Faith Guides the Players, Coaches, and Wives of the NFL,” I was excited what I might read.
Men of Sunday is a quick read.
Eichelberger interviewed and highlights many current and former players including Mike Singletary, Justin Tuck, LaDainian Tomlinson, Oshiomogho Atogwe, and Jay Feely about football’s violent nature, the sacrifices players and families make, adversity they face, temptations they endure, and the call to being leaders and role models.
I, in particular, enjoyed how Eichelberger covered the challenges several football couples — including Samari Rolle and his wife Danisha, Chansi and Jasmin Stucky, and Trent and Cassandra Dilfer — faced.
Minnesota Vikings fans, you might be interested to know that: Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, points out that coaches have often reached into the Bible for help getting their teams through difficult times.
He remembers one occasion in 2007 when he was an assistant to then Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress. The rival Green Bay Packers had beaten the Vikings 34–0, dropping Minnesota to 3-6 on the season and creating a city full of doubters.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Frazier was in Childress’s office after the loss, and the two men discussed the role prayer would play in trying to get the team through the difficulties it faced. They decided to focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, encouraging Christians to be united in one another and think of themselves not as individuals, but as being united in the body of Christ and belonging to each other.
“We focused on finishing the race together,” Frazier recalls. “It would be a race of perseverance, and we both prayed in his office that Monday, before he went down and talked to the team. We just wanted to make sure we were both in the right frame of mind before going down there because we felt like our season could go either way.
“He talked about perseverance,” Frazier continues, “and the fact that we were going to go through difficult times, much like Paul had in the Scripture and like we were experiencing then.”
Childress told the team: “Paul finished the race and that’s what we have to do, and the only way is if we unite as a group. It doesn’t matter what the media is saying about us right now or how people are picking us apart. We have to join together as one and persevere through a tough storm.”
The club reeled off five consecutive wins, before losing its final two, to finish the season a respectable 8-8, though not good enough to make the play-offs. Minnesota would go 10-6 the following season and 12-4 in 2009, qualifying for the play-offs both years. Childress was fired following a 3-7 start to the 2010 season. He was 40-37, including 1-2 in the play-offs, in four and a half years as the Vikings head coach. His best season was 2009 when he guided the team to the NFC Conference championship before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, 31–28, in overtime.
“I really believe that’s kind of where we found out who we were as a team,” Frazier says. “We were a team that was going to persevere through an embarrassing time and not let that one loss define us. Scripture helped us get through that moment. It was because of faith and prayer as opposed to saying: ‘We’re going to roll up our sleeves and fix this.’ It was relying on God to show us what direction we needed to take, what words we needed to speak to our players to get them motivated and in the right frame of mind so that we could persevere.”
I enjoyed reading Men of Sunday very much. If you enjoy football and getting deeper insight into the values that motivate the players and coaches I think you’ll enjoy Men of Sunday too.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”