This was my monthly article for the parish newsletter in September of '08. Forgot to post it here, and it seems timely given the Colts are playing this Sunday.
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As we head back into the school year and the beginning of football season, this month’s margin smudges are in the pages of some light reading appropriate for this time of year: Quiet Faith: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker.
As you football fans know, Tony Dungy is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the winning coach in Super Bowl XLI. It’s also well known that he is a Christian; he is not bashful about talking about his faith and is willing to use the publicity that an NFL coach receives to do that in all manner of venues. The book was a big hit when it was published last year, and many of you may have read it already.
The book is the memoir of a football coach, so there is a certain amount of football involved, but it’s not a book about football. Instead, it is a book about faith. He talks with frank honesty about his struggles early on in the league, his questioning whether he is doing God’s will in his life, and his struggles about whether or not to continue coaching. His son James committed suicide toward the end of the season in 2005; he spends a whole chapter talking about the grieving process, even including the things he said when he spoke at his son’s funeral.
Here are just a couple of quotations:
“I had always said that trusting in the Lord was the answer. Now, facing my own tragedy, I knew I needed to accept the truth that God’s love and power were sufficient. If I really believed it, I needed to use this personal and painful time to validate that belief. God would work for the good of those who love Him, even if we didn’t understand how He was going to do it.”
“I didn’t want to be an icon. I wanted to provide hope. I wanted my experience to open people’s eyes to the opportunities available to all of us. Not necessarily just opportunities in football…but any opportunity to knock down the walls that divide us. That’s how God wants it to be.”
There’s a reason this book was a #1 bestseller, and it’s not because a bunch of football fans bought it. It’s worth your time to read, and your faith will be strengthened by it. As always, you can borrow my copy—it’s on the shelf in my study.