Monday, September 12, 2011

A Man Worth Emulating

Football season kicked off this past weekend as the lockout finally came to an end just a few weeks ago. On ESPN’s Mike and Mike radio show, the hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were discussing a news story about the college of Notre Dame enforcing stricter rules regarding the use of obscene language by its head football coach. Apparently, because Notre Dame is a Catholic college, the administration of the school feels the football coach should not be screaming obscenities at his players when the team is on national television.

Mike and Mike discussed this story at length. Mike Golic, who was a former defensive end in the NFL, felt that the idea of trying to police foul language was a joke because all of the coaches use curse words frequently and repeatedly when coaching their teams. He went on to say that not only is foul language part of the fabric of the NFL, he said it is also a part of the college game as well.

At this point, the hosts brought on Mark Schlereth, a former offensive lineman in the NFL. Schlereth agreed wholeheartedly that it would be near impossible to police foul language but then he went on to say something even more shocking. He said in the five seasons that he played football for the Washington Redskins, he never heard his head coach, Joe Gibbs EVER utter a single curse word. It is also worth noting that the Redskins won a Super Bowl during this timeframe. Just a few minutes after Schlereth mentioned this, Kyle Busch, the NASCAR driver for Joe Gibbs’ racing team, came on the show to talk about his recent win. Busch echoed Schlereth’s observation of Gibbs and said that he too, during all his years of driving, has never heard Gibbs utter a single curse word. He also remarked that it is very rare in the sport of car racing to not hear obscenities as pretty much every other word out of the management team is a curse word.

I mention this because Joe Gibbs is a professed Christian. He often talks about his faith when he is interviewed. He has also been one of the most successful football coaches and race car managers in the history of both sports. But what I find most interesting is the fact that his former player and current car racing driver did not mention his professional success but his character when coaching them. Gibbs has been a part of two professional sports that are synonymous with foul language, lewd jokes, and infantile behavior, and yet he has never taken part in any of it and that stood out more to Schlereth and Busch than all the titles he has won.

When Jesus tells us to be salt and light this is what He means. Joe Gibbs said more about his faith and his relationship to God by refraining from using language that is accepted in his profession and even, at times, encouraged than anything he ever accomplished on the football field or the race track. He actually understands that in the end he is not going to be judged by Super Bowl rings and race car trophies but by how he obeyed Jesus Christ. And this is our litmus test too. If Joe Gibbs, with all of his public success, can maintain such an impeccable character than we should strive to do the same.

People are watching us. They are noticing what we do and what we don’t do. Even when they shove us off and tell us to stop talking about God. They are still watching. They are still trying to figure out if this Jesus thing is real. Our life speaks louder than our words. I am sure when Joe Gibbs was told of Schlereth’s and Busch’s comments, he just smiled and thought their sentiments were worth more than all his titles. And truly, they are.
"You have the ability, with your words, to make a person stronger. Your words are to their soul what a vitamin is to their body."
- Max Lucado

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