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Colts Coaches, Players Carry Deep Faith Into Super Bowl

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (RNS) It’s easy to see why, if there are no atheists in foxholes, there are also few on a field where huge, strong men collide at tremendous speeds. Football players who gather at midfield to pray together show that faith is an ever present part of the game.
But with the Indianapolis Colts, it all seems to be something bigger.
At Super Bowl XLIV, faith is a topic that has come up repeatedly.
The Colts, seeking their second NFL championship in the last four years, were molded by Tony Dungy and are now coached by Jim Caldwell, two devout and openly Christian men.
Several Colts players and assistant coaches share that faith. In addition to questions about football, there are also representatives of various Christian media outlets following the team.
Yet while religion can be controversial when it repeatedly crops up in conversations focused on more secular pursuits, it doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Colts.
“I don’t think so because it’s not something that anybody tries to force on anybody,” Colts center Jeff Saturday said. “We talk about our faith openly. I don’t ever try to hide it…. It’s the same way for Caldwell and a number of players on our team. But at the end of it we’re all a team and we’re going to fight together and bond together. We enjoy what we do and we don’t let (religion or faith) become the centerpiece of it.”
Assistant head coach and receivers coach Clyde Christensen spent a portion of his time Wednesday (Feb. 3) talking with a religious television crew about the role Jesus Christ plays in his life, and then filmed a pitch for Haitian hurricane relief efforts.
Head coach Caldwell fields questions on the topic at seemingly every public appearance he makes. He, too, never tries to downplay his faith — he quoted Scripture in answering a question about the Colts possibly losing to the New Orleans Saints — while insisting he doesn’t think he should use his perch to proselytize.
“Obviously it is no secret that I am a Christian and I don’t hide from that fact at all,” he said. “I am not here to prove anything. I am not here to prophesize. I am here to do a job.
“It just so happens that you have a guy that is a Christian doing the job and I don’t hide from that fact.”
Dungy said that he and Caldwell shared long conversations about how their faith molded their approach to coaching — one Dungy characterized as built on positive feedback. Their goal was to forge a new coaching template in which winning was achieved without sacrificing personal lives or forcing onerous burdens on players and staff.
What’s more, Caldwell said his faith not only shaped his personality but contributed to his success.
“My father and my mother both were very fundamental as Christians and our household was basically one where your adherence to Christ and his commandments were extremely important,” he said. “It taught us discipline. It has helped a tremendous amount. I think it does instill some things in you that help you in terms of leadership.”
Again, though, he stressed that is not his locker room speech.
“I am not really out to make any kind of impression at all, that’s not my goal and aim,” he said. “I certainly think our platform is such that we use it for Christ’s benefit but also want them to understand that I do my job. That’s what I am here to do. I am there to direct the team and make certain that we’re in the best possible position to win.”
(James Varney writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • pagansister

    Whoopie! They got religion!
    Naturally they need faith. If they lose, they lose a lot of money!

  • Henrietta22

    I asked my husband if he prayed in a circle when he played football at his H.S. in Iowa. He said, H–l no! He made Honorable Mention All State that year for his school. I can’t remember our H.S. football team praying before games in NJ, either. But of course the Christian coach here is a fundamentalist Christian, not a Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc., although the fundamentalist Christians have infiltrated those churches here and there. They’ve come a long way, baby, as the old ads for women who smoked used to say!

  • nnmns

    It sounds like a good idea to “forge a new coaching template in which winning was achieved without sacrificing personal lives or forcing onerous burdens on players and staff”. But it sure doesn’t require a particular religion or any religion to do it.
    And if hyper Christianity really worked very well in sports, everyone would be trying it.
    This Super Bowl may get unusually weird, what between the anti-abortion add and the religious angle above.
    Oh, and I also played HS football and I’m pretty sure we didn’t pray. In our case it couldn’t have hurt.

  • nnmns

    And by the way there are plenty of atheists in foxholes and no doubt on football fields.
    When these superbly conditioned and trained football players make a touchdown and thank their gods I laugh. A god-thanking moment would be when some old guy like me makes a touchdown in a real pro game.

  • Your Name

    If only they were consistent. I’d love to see a reciever look up and point to heaven when he’s overthrown, well-defended, or fumbles. We’re told god prefers the humble, no?

  • cknuck

    H22 quote, “although the fundamentalist Christians have infiltrated those churches here and there. They’ve come a long way, baby, as the old ads for women who smoked used to say!”
    How appropriate

  • nnmns

    Could it be that God likes New Orleans, with its homosexuality and abandon more than white bread Indianapolis?
    Not according to an atheist, but if I were a believer looking at how close some of those plays are, who knows?
    Who Dat?

  • Mordred08

    31-17 Go Decadence!

  • jestrfyl

    OK, once more…
    Does this mean they did not pray hard enough? Does God like the Saints better (duh!)? Did God tell them “no”? Was God working through prophetic refs who made key calls in the Saints favor?
    Or could it be that this is simply another game and the team that took the bigger risks got the trophy? The Colts played good conservative ball, but the Saints made some crazy plays that could just as well have turned against them. So maybe the message is Divinity favors Risk takers. Sounds like a liberal plot to further a liberal agenda for liberals everywhere who are taking liberties with our liberty.

  • pagansister

    “Sounds like a liberal plot to further a liberal agenda for liberals everywhre who sre taking liberties with our liberty.” jestrfyl
    Didn’t watch the game, as I’m really not a football fan, but am really glad the Saints won! Bet the party is still going on! And one thing they know how to do in New Orleans is “PARTY”!

  • Chief Wiggum

    Where’s your Jesus NOW, Colts?

  • cknuck

    Armchair speculation since nobody here with an opinion ever played

  • pagansister

    Right, cknuck, I never played football.
    I just think the stars were truely in alinement and the Saints won…Perfect. It was so due.

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