Steven Waldman

UPDATE: My post from yesterday used the original text of a speech by former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs at the Republican. He actually ad libbed and changed the language in a way that hedges slightly as to whether McCain will lead a spiritual revival but add some other, er, theological material a bit surprising to find in the middle of a political convention. (Thanks to Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today for the clutch catch)
In the original text he said John McCain “will spark a return to God’s Word and a spiritual revival that will bring our nation together.”
What Gibbs ended up actually saying: “It’s my hope the Republican Party, with the selection of John McCain and Sarah Palin, will be a part of a return to God’s word that will lead America to a spiritual revival so that God can truly bless America.
One part I’m still trying to interpret. He says clearly that “God’s our head coach” and the one crafted our “game plan.” Then he also says, “this convention has created and crafted the political game plan for our leaders and our country.” Is he suggesting the GOP and God or collaborating? Or is he just, well, stuck in a particular metaphor and not fussing over implications quite as much as I am.
Here’s the full text of both versions:

Speech As Delivered

New York Governor accuses McCain of sexiwm
MR. GIBBS: (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thanks. I want to start right off by saying a big thanks to all of you people in Minnesota. 1991, my family, all the Skins, we got to have one of the greatest experiences that man can create right here, the Super Bowl. I appreciate the way you guys treated all of us. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, I got to tell you, because of that, hey, I feel right at home. Well, maybe if I got a few boos, I’d feel right at home. (Laughs, laughter.)
And I got to tell you also, I’m a little intimidated. You stop and think about this — in a few minutes, what can a football coach — (laughs) — offer to such a select group of people? In particular, when you think about it, I’m a physical education major; not real sharp. That’s ballroom dancing and handball. (Laughter.) Other than that, I’m not sure what I can offer.
But think about a coach’s life. What’s a coach’s life? We’re picking players, putting them together on a team and getting them to accomplish a common goal, winning games or in some cases — mine — winning races.
So as I travel through life, I’ve thought a lot about life and for me and that simple mind, it came back to this: What is life? I think life is a game.
You and I are the players. We’re playing the biggest game of all. And God is our head coach. (Cheers, applause.)
So for a minute, if I could just compare the game of football with the game of life for just a minute. Now, I know right away when I said football I know that I’ve got most of you hooked, because after 35 years of coaching, I know that most of you think you know a lot about coaching — (laughs), as a result of all the nasty names you’ve called those coaches.
But if you think about football, what have you got to have? We said, a good coach. Think about the game of life. Who possibly could be our coach but God?
Okay, as a coach, what was the most important thing that I did as a coach? I crafted the game plan. On Monday and Tuesday, we came in as coaches, worked on the game plan. The players came in on Wednesday and we started putting the game plan in in sections. If we had a good game plan, we had a chance to get a win.
Think about this, then. If you and I are playing the game of life, God’s our head coach. Would he put us here without a game plan? Absolutely not. He’s done that, and down through history when we followed God’s game plan, his Bible, his Word, it leads to success for both individuals and — (cheers, applause) — for both individuals and countries.
Now, my life is a personal example. I’m a testimony. When I veered away from God’s game plan and became a foolish person, I suffered the results. It led to a financial disaster, a vocational struggle, and a serious health issue.
But yet, then again, when I followed God’s game plan, His word, this average person, with that game plan, was able to have some of the greatest experiences in the world.
Pat and I right now have a great family with eight grandkids. (Cheers, applause.) We also have been able to enjoy Super Bowls and NASCAR championships. (Cheers, applause.) Right game plan leads to what? Success. Bad game plan, falling away from God’s word, leads to disaster. I’m a personal testimony to that.
Now, this — this convention has created and crafted the political game plan for our leaders and our country. What great issues we’re tackling. Wouldn’t it be great going forward in the future, when we’re discussing some of these great issues, wouldn’t it be great to have someone say, “I wonder what God would think about this?” (Cheers, applause.)
After all — after all, when you think about it, God sent his son to this Earth. He selected some very average people. He crafted the greatest game plan of all time that continues to this day to change the world.
It’s my hope the Republican Party, with the selection of John McCain and Sarah Palin, will be a part of a return to God’s word that will lead America to a spiritual revival so that God can truly bless America. (Cheers, applause.)
Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

Prepared Text

It’s a little awkward for me to put on a partisan hat. But, with all the media hype, I feel compelled to tell you where I stand.
Tonight, I’m supporting … the Washington Redskins, who are taking on the New York Giants!
Actually, I’m not here to cheer on my favorite football team. I’m here to share with you some observations based on my personal experience, which included financial disaster, a serious health problem, and yes, putting together the teams that went to three Super Bowls and won three NASCAR championships.
These lessons can help us in any competition – whether it takes place in a stadium or in the political arena. In troubled times, it’s human nature to feel vulnerable and weak — like nothing is going your way and it never will.
But I’ve found that the greatest challenges in life have the potential to call out our best virtues – to inspire and strengthen us.
I have seen it play out on the football field.
I have seen it happen on the racetrack.
I’ve seen it in the eyes of a child suffering from cancer.
And the world saw it when John McCain was released from the grip of evil in Vietnam.
It truly is a paradox that those who suffer can overcome extreme adversity and give the rest of us strength.
Faith is the reason.
Faith in family and friends – our first team, who we can rely on for support and protection.
Faith in God – he has the game plan and always sends in the right plays, if only we tune in our headsets.
And faith in oneself.
Applying these lessons to our everyday lives can help us overcome any obstacle.
They can even propel an average person to greatness.
America is blessed with an abundance of these uncommon heroes.
American icon Will Rogers observed that “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap when they go by.”
I ask you to step onto the curb with me as we honor a true American hero – Senator John McCain!
By supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, I am confident that we are choosing the right game plan for America!
I believe that electing John McCain and Sarah Palin will spark a return to God’s Word and a spiritual revival that will bring our nation together. God bless you, and God bless America!

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