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would terry bradshaw be who he is today without phil robertson? probably not.

TWO COUNTRY SWEETHEARTS JOIN THE ROBERTSONS' HUNTING ESCAPADES

SS GOES DUCK WILD: 11 EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEWS INSIDE!

DUCK DYNASTY HOW IT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED INSIDE: WHAT JASON ALDEAN, LUKE BRYAN, TERRY BRADSHAW, ADAM LaROCHE, AND A GUY NAMED 'AL' HAVE IN COMMON

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CONTENTS FEATURES

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SPECIALS

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GOODBYE BUCK$, HELLO DUCKS

The Robertsons weren’t always qualified to be the most Christian-friendly, family focused people to star on reality television, but they became much more BY STEPHEN COPELAND

Four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw was obviously a talented quarterback. But at Louisiana Tech, he was just a backup...behind Phil Robertson BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

All photos provided by the Robertson family

Fred Roe / Getty Images

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WELCOME ALL

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MADLY IN LOVE

VIDEOS

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL 11 VIDEOS (OVER AN HOUR OF FOOTAGE) WITH THE CAST OF DUCK DYNASTY

There’s more to Willie and Korie Robertson’s family than what you see on the show; John Luke and Sadie aren’t their only children BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

Even though Miss Kay married Phil at the age of 16, their relationship never grew old; and yes, that includes what goes on in the bedroom BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

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WHO’S AL?

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BASEBALL AND BUCKS

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GOD WINS THE WALRUS

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DUCK DYNASTY: HOW IT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED

BY AARON MAY

There’s only one Robertson brother who isn’t on Duck Dynasty: Al. And he doesn’t look like a Robertson, either BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

If you want to see Willie Robertson’s wild network of friends, just take a look at the cast of Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander BY STEPHEN COPELAND What happens when staff writer Stephen Copeland forgets his recorder at the Duck Commander warehouse? A personal account about Sports Spectrum’s interaction with Godwin BY STEPHEN COPELAND

DID YOU KNOW? Everything you need to know about Duck Dynasty, that you didn’t know already BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

OPINION

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AIRING IT OUT: Sharing our hope

Going to church with the Robertsons, and irony of it all BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

ANOTHER ANGLE: Resurrect your reverence

A look into the mind of Phil Robertson, and a challenge to think like him BY STEPHEN COPELAND

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OPINION

AIRING IT OUT BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

b h o n e y c u t t @ s p o r t s s p e c t r u m . c o m | F o l l o w @ b re t t _ h o n e y c u t t

Sharing our hope

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All photos provided by the Robertson family

e heard the same sermon twice on the Wednesday night we went to West Monroe, La.—and both were unexpected. We had just finished our interview with Miss Kay, Al, Willie and Phil Robertson, cast from the popular TV show, Duck Dynasty. It was interesting listening to Phil talk about sex and relationships, Willie talk about his early days when he and his wife, Korie, ran a Christian camp, Al add nuggets to almost every story, and Miss Kay laugh and talk honestly about her relationship with Phil in the early days (it was tough) and how God had brought each of them to Christ. It was as if we were part of the Duck Dynasty TV show. Why? Because what we had seen on TV, is what we saw in person. It was refreshing and also spiritually uplifting because their deep faith was evident as they talked about how they viewed the show as a platform to share their faith— White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana, where Phil Robertson is and, as I learned, sharing their faith is what they’re about an elder, and Al Robertson was a pastor for 20 years. After we were finished, Miss Kay invited us to church. I was already looking forward to going (Al had already invited said, “sharing our hope.” us earlier when we were setting up the interview). He talked about the false narrative that only certain people I was excited because I enjoy going to church, but I was really can share their faith and listed reasons people think this: I am excited because they invited us and because of what I knew about not good at it; I am embarrassed to try; I am afraid I will offend the Robertsons’ faith (and had also just experienced); my thought someone; I feel like a hypocrite because I am not perfect; I am was since they’re strong spiritually, then their church, White’s afraid they will reject me; I am not educated enough. Ferry Road Church of Christ, must be strong, as well. But he reminded us that the true narrative was that all ChrisBut the idea of going to church was made even better because tians share their faith, and he reminded us of “The Story That they invited us. It was personal. It showed they cared. They want- Inspires Hope”—Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and return. ed us to be there, and we wanted to be there. And then he talked about “Hope in Action,” referencing Romans We were running a little behind because the Robertsons were 12:10-18 and II Corinthians 2:15, and “Hope in Words,” referencgracious enough to give us more time to ask questions. We really ing I Peter 3:15-16. just listened and watched them interact like they do on TV. He concluded by encouraging each of us to pray, watch, reach Because of that, we came in to the service near the beginning. out, listen, connect, share and invite so that we could share the There were a hundred or two hundred people there, including all hope that we have because of Christ. He did so much for us and of the Robertsons (we sat behind Jep and his wife, Jessica, and we have so much to look forward to after this life. Why wouldn’t Justin Martin). we be excited to tell others? The songs we sang and listened to were a cappella and familiar I knew the message had sunk in, not because I thought or felt it because I had heard them on my first mission trip with Athletes had, but because it was already being lived out in the members of in Action in 1992 (I later bought tapes of those songs and have the church. It’s exactly what the Robertsons have been doing with enjoyed them for years). The songs brought back great memories, their lives—sharing their hope with excitement and immediacy but more than that they reminded me of who God is, what He had to a world in desperate need of hearing something that is truly and has done for us, and they were leading me to worship Him. life-changing. I began to wonder if the sermon would be as good. It was faulty I walked away encouraged, hopeful, and thinking that we had thinking because God is always present when His Word is opened just gotten out of one church service (our interview with the Roband shared, but that was what was going through my mind. ertsons, who talked about sharing their faith) and went into anThe pastor, Mike Kellett, came up to preach. The sermon was other one (at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, which talked based on I Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. about sharing our faith). Brett Honeycutt is the Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you It is the type of hope managing editor of Sports to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with we all should desire to Spectrum magazine. His column gentleness and respect.” spread. addresses controversial topics He talked about “The Hopeful Community” and sharing our from a biblical perspective. faith. But instead of saying “sharing our faith,” he appropriately 2

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A sports devotional written by Charlotte D. Smith, a former All-American and two-time All-ACC player who made the game-winning shot in the 1994 NCAA Championship that gave North Carolina its first and only title. Smith, who won an ESPN ESPY for Best Female College Basketball Player in 1995, also starred in the ABL and WNBA for 10 years and was an assistant coach at North Carolina for 9 seasons before taking the head women’s basketball coaching position in 2011 at Elon University, an NCAA Division I school in North Carolina. "I love to do Bible study on the road with my team," says Smith. "I just started accumulating a lot of writings, and just in my career as a coach, I really started to see the need for coaches to be empowered and coaches to be reminded of why we coach." Smith, who knows the struggles of players, coaches and people in general, shares stories on and off the court in a devotional format that will help coaches grow in their walk with Christ and also give coaches material to share with their team to help them grow, as well.

All photos provided by the Robertson family

Phil sits in Willie’s office at the Duck Commander warehouse. He’s telling a story, like Phil usually does. Being with him in person is kind of surreal, like you’re having coffee with a cartoon. It looks like he came straight out of your television and sat in your living room—sunglasses resting on his head, camouflage bandana and pants, as if he’s been hunting all day, and a nest of a beard you could probably turn into a winter scarf. He’s an identical projection of the Phil you see on Duck Dynasty, A&E’s hit-program about redneck millionaires, the Robertsons, living in the backwoods of Louisiana; and yet, as he talks, you see more clearly the real Phil Robertson. There’s more to him. Willie, his third oldest son, is there, too, reclined in his chair, feet propped and crossed on his desk, enjoying his new office. He does business on his phone or strokes his beard or spits chew into his white coffee mug while Phil talks and talks and talks. Again, this Willie, the CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander, looks exactly the same—worn jeans, plaid shirt, blue bandana, beard, and all—but there’s more to him, something that stretches far beyond the plots of reality television. Miss Kay, Phil’s wife, is also there, sitting in Willie’s office, delightfully southern and cordial and giggly. She’s wearing a baggy, black, Under Armour sweatshirt with a giant, white Duck Dynasty logo plastered on the front. She’s not wearing an apron, believe it or not, and there’s no talk of fried squirrel, either. She sits quietly, listening to her husband, Phil. Al, their oldest son, is in the office, too, occasionally offering anecdotes and background stories, but mostly just listening to Phil like the rest of them. Al is the only Robertson son who doesn’t look like a grizzly bear, and apparently his normalcy is enough to disqualify him from the show. Jase and Jep, his other two bearded younger brothers aren’t in the room but will be at church with them later. Al still seems like the ugly duckling in the vicinity of Phil and Willie, which is weird, because Al doesn’t look like he could scare children. He stands on the other side of Willie’s L-shaped, camouflage desk, handing him sheets of paper that look like lithographs to autograph while Phil talks.

The scene—the family, the interaction, the personalities—almost makes you feel like you’re on the set of Duck Dynasty. But at the same time, it’s different. The humor is the same, but their depth is more evident. There’s no censor. No storyline. They’re talking about the things they want to talk about. Also, there’s Al. At the moment, Phil is telling a story about a time at the Super Dome in New Orleans when he was speaking to a 1,000-person crowd about duck calls and hunting. He stood beneath a sign that read “Budweiser, King of Beers” then said, “I tell you what, that concludes my duck call demonstration, folks.” He reached down and picked up his Bible. “I think while I’m here, I’m going to preach you a little sermon about the King of Kings.” It’s been ten minutes since the reporters entered Willie’s office, and they haven’t asked a single question. Phil knew they worked for a Christian magazine, and he took it as a green light—a green light to preach. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if they worked for Sports Illustrated or Time. If you watch Duck Dynasty, you know this much: Phil is going to say what he’s going to say, even if it ruffles some feathers. “My job is to tell them the good news about Jesus, and I’m on down the road,” Phil says, piggybacking off his own story. “Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried and raised from the dead. Ya want in? Put your faith in Him, find ya a pond somewhere, let somebody baptize ya, and let’s go with it.” Phil picks up more steam, his voice fluctuating. “Love God. Love your neighbor. Ya think the U.S. would be a little better off if we tried that? Not looking too good the way we’re going now. People robbing, raping, ripping babies out of wombs—it’s just pitiful.” He launches into another story. This one is about a time in Mississippi where he pulled up to an event, saw an endless line waiting to meet him, gathered everyone up in the parking lot, and started preaching. Like the hundreds of people he has baptized in the nearby Ouachita River—300, some say—several came to God in the parking lot that day in Mississippi.

DUCK DYNASTY

Photo courtesy of Zach Dilgard

HOW IT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED By Stephen Copeland

hil sits in Willie’s office at the Duck Commander warehouse. He’s telling a story, like Phil usually does. Being with him in person is kind of surreal, like you’re having coffee with a cartoon. It looks like he came straight out of your television and sat in your living room—sunglasses resting on his head, camouflage bandana and pants, as if he’s been hunting all day, and a nest of a beard you could probably turn into a winter scarf. He’s an identical projection of the Phil you see on Duck Dynasty, A&E’s hit-program about redneck millionaires, the Robertsons, living in the backwoods of Louisiana; and yet, as he talks, you see more clearly the real Phil Robertson. There’s more to him. Willie, his third oldest son, is there, too, reclined in his chair, feet propped and crossed on his desk, enjoying his new office. He does business on his phone or strokes his beard or spits chew into his white coffee mug while Phil talks and talks and talks. Again, this Willie, the CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander, looks exactly the same—worn jeans, plaid shirt, blue bandana, beard, and all—but there’s more to him, something that stretches far beyond the plots of reality television. Miss Kay, Phil’s wife, is also there, sitting in Willie’s office, delightfully southern and cordial and giggly. She’s wearing a baggy, black, Under Armour sweatshirt with a giant, white Duck Dynasty logo plastered on the front. She’s not wearing an apron, believe it or not, and there’s no talk of fried squirrel, either. She sits quietly, listening to her husband, Phil. Al, their oldest son, is in the office, too, occasionally offering anecdotes and background stories, but mostly just listening to Phil like the rest of them. Al is the only Robertson son who doesn’t look like a grizzly bear, and apparently his normalcy is enough to disqualify him from the show. Jase and Jep, his other two bearded younger brothers aren’t in the room but will be at church with them later. Al still seems like the ugly duckling in the vicinity of Phil and Willie, which is weird, because Al doesn’t look like he could scare children. He stands on the other side of Willie’s L-shaped, camouflage desk, handing him sheets of paper that look like lithographs to autograph while Phil talks. The scene—the family, the interaction, the personalities—almost makes you feel like you’re on the set of Duck Dynasty. But at the same time, it’s different. The humor is the same, but their depth is more evident. There’s no censor. No storyline. They’re talking about the things they want to talk about. Also, there’s Al. At the moment, Phil is telling a story about a time at the Super Dome in New Orleans when he was speaking to a 1,000-person crowd about duck calls and hunting. He stood beneath a sign that read “Budweiser, King of Beers” then said, “I tell you what, that concludes my duck call demonstration, folks.” He reached down and picked up his Bible. “I think while I’m here, I’m going to preach you a little sermon about the King of Kings.” It’s been ten minutes since the reporters entered Willie’s office, and they haven’t asked a single question. Phil knew Click the video above to watch Phil Robertson talk about the importance of they worked for a Christian magazine, and he evangelism.

“My job is to tell them the good news about Jesus, and I’m on down the road. Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried and raised from the dead. Ya want in? Put your faith in Him, find ya a pond somewhere, let somebody baptize ya, and let’s go with it.”

took it as a green light—a green light to preach. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if they worked for Sports Illustrated or Time. If you watch Duck Dynasty, you know this much: Phil is going to say what he’s going to say, even if it ruffles some feathers. “My job is to tell them the good news about Jesus, and I’m on down the road,” Phil says, piggybacking off his own story. “Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried and raised from the dead. Ya want in? Put your faith in Him, find ya a pond somewhere, let somebody baptize ya, and let’s go with it.” Phil picks up more steam, his voice fluctuating. “Love God. Love your neighbor. Ya think the U.S. would be a

little better off if we tried that? Not looking too good the way we’re going now. People robbing, raping, ripping babies out of wombs—it’s just pitiful.” He launches into another story. This one is about a time in Mississippi where he pulled up to an event, saw an endless line waiting to meet him, gathered everyone up in the parking lot, and started preaching. Like the hundreds of people he has baptized in the nearby Ouachita River—300, some say—several came to God in the parking lot that day in Mississippi. One time, he stood on hay bales in a city square in California and started preaching. He’s preached from wagons before. He’s preached from 18-wheelers.

DUCKS FOR BUCK$ Phil Robertson called signals, darted, dove, and threw. He wasn’t calling, chasing or hunting ducks, he was quarterbacking Louisiana Tech’s football team against Alabama in 1966. It’s an interesting clip on YouTube that shows Robertson’s high skill level at quarterback. Back in the mid-1960s, when Robertson was married, raising a family (his first child, Al, had been born), and going to college, he was the starting quarterback for Louisiana Tech. His backup? Future Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. Yes, the same Terry Bradshaw that led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles. Bradshaw remembered Robertson fondly in his autobiography, “It’s Only a Game.” “The quarterback playing ahead of me, Phil Robertson, loved hunting more than he loved football,” Bradshaw wrote. “He’d come to practice directly from the woods, squirrel tails hanging out of his pockets, duck feathers on his clothes. Clearly he was a fine shot, so no one complained too much.” It was evident even out of North Caddo High in Vivian, La., that Robertson could play at a high level. Despite offers from LSU, Mississippi, Baylor and Rice, Robertson stayed close to home and played less than 100 miles away at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La. From 1965-67 at Louisiana Tech (the last two years as a starter), he passed for 2,237 yards and 12 TDs, including a school-record 302 yards during a loss to Southeast Louisiana in 1967. Those career numbers may not seem staggering compared to today’s pass-happy offenses, but consider he did that in an era when running the ball was the first, second and third option for most teams. Though Robertson had one season of eligibility left and interest from the NFL’s Washington Redskins, he decided he loved hunting more. So he let Bradshaw know his intentions. “I said, ‘Bradshaw, son, you’ve got the arm, you certainly have the desire to be a great pro football player. You got the brains.’ He said, ‘You think so?’ He only questioned me about the brain power. I said, ‘Hey, you got enough sense. Look, when you get to adding up the IQs running around out there on Sunday evenings, it might surprise you. You got a good strong arm. You’ll do well,

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This is the side of the Robertsons you don’t see on the show, and, for the sake of their ratings, understandably so. “I think it scares people more than making them mad or belligerent at me because of it,” Phil continues. “They seem more afraid, which, they oughta be. It’s not that I’m trying to put the fear of God in them, but,” he says, laughing, “I pretty well am. You know what I’m sayin’?” “Phil,” Miss Kay interrupts. He looks over at her. “He’s going to ask you a couple questions,” she says, pointing at a reporter, realizing they haven’t asked a single question in the 20 minutes they’ve been there.

A reporter speaks, propelling Phil into another story. This one is about preaching to 500 people in the middle of Oklahoma. Phil, who has never owned a cell phone or started a computer, was fascinated when his brother-in-law found his Oklahoma sermon online and showed him that nearly 500,000 people viewed it. “Punched my name into that cell phone,” he tries to explain. “He’s almost like John the Baptist,” Al says of Phil, who has been called the Billy Graham of duck hunting. “Also because of the way he looks, ya know? If only he had camel hair—” Phil interrupts, speaking quickly, leaning forward, laughing, “Some of them look at me and say, ‘That boy look pretty rough.’ I say, ‘Hey, John the Baptist looked a lot rougher than I did, and he

All photos provided by the Robertson family

Phil Robertson, standing third from the left and wearing No. 10, decided not to play football his senior year at Louisiana Tech because he didn’t want to miss duck hunting season, giving Terry Bradshaw, standing on the far left, the starting job.

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Ducks For Buck$ (continued) Fred Roe / Getty Images

my boy. I‘m going hunting ducks, because I just love it more than throwing touchdown passes, so good luck to you.’ Of course, he appreciated it because that moved him up to the No. 1 slot.” So Robertson left football and, the following season, he hunted ducks while completing his degree. A year or so later, though, a former Louisiana Tech teammate, running back Bob Brunet, was with the Redskins and thought Robertson could still make the team. Brunet told Robertson to come up and he would likely be the backup and earn about $60,000. “At the time, $60,000 didn’t seem like a whole lot even in the ’60s,” says Phil, who worked as a teacher for a few years after earning his degree from Louisiana Tech and then earned his master’s degree in education, with a concentration in English. “I said, ‘I don’t know about that. I would miss duck season, you know? I’d have to be up there in some northern city.’ I said, ‘Brunet, you think I’d stay?’ He said, ‘I doubt it. You’d probably leave with the ducks, Robertson.’ I said, ‘Probably so.’” “That’s when (future Hall of Fame coach Vince) Lombardi went to Washington for a few years right before he quit coaching…

Where would Terry Bradshaw be today if it weren’t for Phil Robertson surrendering his starting job and choosing duck hunting over football his senior season at Louisiana Tech? You decide.

paved the way for Jesus, so get out of my face!’”

Dark Days

The Robertsons weren’t always qualified to be the most Christian-friendly, family focused people to star on reality television. They weren’t always sitting around the dinner table each night,

Click the video above to watch Phil and Kay Robertson talk about their marriage and the dark days they had to overcome.

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praying and laughing. Truth is, all they’ve done—Duck Commander, Buck Commander, their hunting DVD’s, their shows on the Outdoor Channel, Duck Dynasty, the baptisms, the speaking engagements—may have never happened if it weren’t for the change Phil made when he was 28, back in the 1970’s. “There were 8-10 years when Dad was pretty much a heathen,” Al says. “Not pretty much, full blown,” Phil stresses. “Well, he was out looking for his freedom wherever that was,” says Miss Kay, who started dating Phil when she was 14, he was 16, then married him in college, and fought for their marriage when he was coming home drunk, and getting in fights, and kicking her and their kids out of the house. Willie chronicled the turmoil in The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, And Ducks Built a Dynasty: “One night, Phil was arguing with the bar’s owner and his wife,” Willie wrote. “He was drunk and threw the woman across the bar and beat both of them up pretty badly. When the police arrived to break up the melee, Phil slipped out the back door. Before he left, Phil told Kay she wouldn’t see him for a while. Then he stayed in the woods for several weeks while the authorities were looking for him…” These were the Robertsons, or, Phil, at one time: operating a honky-tonk, living out of a trailer, drunken nights and bar fights. Family was the last thing on his mind. Slightly different from what

What (Brunet) said was, ‘We got this hotdog, Robertson, but you the less stressful route.’ He said, ‘You know, you ain’t done bad.’ can beat him out easy.’ I said, ‘Who’s the hotdog?’ He said, ‘You’re I said, ‘Well, you did pretty well yourself, son; four Super Bowls.’ not going to beat out (future Hall of Famer Sonny) Jurgenson. He said, ‘Well, now, you’re a movie star.’ I said, ‘There you go. Hey, You’re not going to beat him out, but this hotdog, his backup, no we’ve both come out of it pretty good.’ It was good to see him. problem.’ I said, ‘Who is he?’ He said, ‘Joe Theismann.’ He’s a good guy. Bradshaw’s a good dude.” Phil paused, smiled, then chuckled, recalling the conversation Missing out on football, if you can phrase it that way, was put and how good Theismann bein perspective by Al Robertson, came—a Super Bowl XVII chamPhil’s oldest son. Like his dad, pion, NFL MVP, and a two-time Al saw the bigger picture of his All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. dad’s choices. “(Brunet) said, ‘No problem, “Obviously, athletically, he we’ve got him, hands down.’ ‘I had a talent and ability to get on may do it,’” Phil recalls says. a stage like a lot of athletes do, “But I didn’t do it. I stayed with and use their ability to do this the ducks. But looking back on as well,” Al, says. “What’s ironic it, who knows if I’d gone up is, is that instead of (football), there, you know, I might not though, it’s like God had a anhave ever run up on Jesus at other plan because (Duck Dynas28.” ty and the duck calling business) Kay, his wife, known as Miss is something totally unique and Kay on the Duck Dynasty teledifferent, even from what those vision show, says matter of (football players) do, which we factly, “You’d probably wound respect…We look at that as sort up dead.” Click the video above to watch Phil Robertson talk about his football days with of a forerunner way this whole Bradshaw and Phil Robert- Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech. ministry has unfolded as being son never forgot each other, a real movement of God that is though. Recently, a chance meeting in an airport reacquainted unique and different. And in Dad’s case, he actually had an ability the former teammates. to do something totally unique and different and yet this other “Forty-four years later, he runs me down in the airport and grabs door (Duck Dynasty) was down the road that we wouldn’t even me and I looked around and I said, ‘Good night Bradshaw, is that know. And now, we’re just now going through that door.” you?’ So he went to telling me about his ailments… ‘They broke my neck, they broke my ribs, they tore my knee up.’ He went to Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine. telling me about all the things that happened to him. I said, ‘I told you back there about 40-something years ago, I was going

All photos provided by the Robertson family

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Welcome All Fans of Duck Dynasty may not know that Willie and Korie Robertson are the proud parents of five children (John Luke, Sadie, Will, Bella and Rebecca), that one (Will) is adopted and another is a foster child from Taiwan (Rebecca). The couple, who have known each other since the third grade when Willie asked Korie to go on a moonlit hike at summer camp, had the desire to adopt even before they were married (a year after high school). “It’s something we wanted to do ever since we were dating,” Willie tells Sports Spectrum. “We both wanted to adopt a child. Take a kid put him in a good home, a Christian home. We just thought why not?” Click the video above to watch Willie Robertson talk about his and Korie’s passion “We didn’t plan on having for adoption. a lot of money, nothing to do with that, we just thought it would be great. We tried to pursue it and hit a few road blocks, and the Lord provided…It’s the best thing I’ve ever done on this earth.” Their adopted son, Will, is biracial, and americanadoptions.com’s website says there is a “strong need for families to adopt African-American children or biracial children that are part AfricanAmerican” and that there is also a “vast shortage of families seeking to adopt children of an African-American descent.” After adopting, Korie became pregnant a month later. “So we had two together,” says Willie. “It was wild and it was fun. The other situation came about as an exchange student and she pretty much said I want to stay here.” Willie says if more Christians got involved in adopting children, the impact would be great. With an estimated orphan population between 143 million and 210 million throughout the world, one can tell the impact would be huge. And even though 250,000 children are adopted each year, there are more than 14 million children who grow up as orphans and age out of the system each year (an average of more than 38,000 children per day). That’s why the need is great and can impact someone for a lifetime. “That’s what God did with us,” Willie told a crowd of people at a recent speaking engagement. “He took us in. Jesus is his son and we are his adopted children and so I can look at my two sons that I have and literally see the New Testament unfolded right there. Because I have the same love for him, no different. “ Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine.

All photos provided by the Robertson family

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Click the video above to watch Phil and Kay Robertson talk about their marriage, one that has endured since Kay married him at 16.

you see today on Duck Dynasty. “Never realizing,” Phil says, “A man is a slave to whatever masters him. I was a slave to sin—” “But he thought he was looking for his freedom,” Miss Kay adds. “I told our kids, I said, ‘The devil is in your dad now. Your dad is made from God. He has a good heart and is a good man, but right now Satan is occupying him and his mind. Don’t hate your dad. You hate Satan and the forces beyond him.’” The relational pain crushed Miss Kay. “What kept me there?” she reflects. “What made me stay with

him? It was words my grandmother said: ‘One man, one wife, for one life.’ She would say things like, ‘You’re going to have to fight for your marriage.’ But after 10 years, I wondered how long you were supposed to fight for your marriage. He drove me into the ground…When I realized that I couldn’t save my marriage myself, you lose hope, and that’s what happened. That’s when I came to Christ.” Miss Kay forgave Phil and took him back under two conditions: He had to quit drinking, and he had to leave his friends. “Now Kay says, ‘Phil, I’ve been poor with you and you were mean; but now you’re kind, and I’m rich with you. Now rich is a lot better,’” Phil says. “Let me explain,” says Miss Kay. “When he was mean, and we were poor, I had to manage everything. He wasn’t very worried about whatever happened. That’s why it’s much easier being this way now. I don’t have to worry about making this work, and debt, and somebody coming after us and shutting off the lights.” “Why do you always cause me debt?” says Willie, jokingly, while signing posters. “What?” asks Miss Kay. “Why do you always cause me debt?” he says again. “Because I have my own bank,” she says, laughing. “It’s the bank of Willie!”

Love & Sex

The talk of dark days and sin leads a reporter to ask a question about fame, and the temptations that come with being in the limelight. Everyone has been in Willie’s office for an hour, and maybe three questions have been asked.

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Madly In Love The note on the headboard of the bed is simple, “Kay, I love you; I always have; I always will; Phil.” But there was more to it than the words on the paper; it had more to do with who Phil and Kay are as people and as a couple than just some sentimental, sappy note written in the emotional bliss of marital happiness. With Phil and Miss Kay, one wouldn’t expect anything less. “I was asleep on my bed, looked up and saw Miss Kay looking at me,” Phil says. “She said, ‘Phil do you love me?’ I said, ‘Yep.’ She said, ‘Write it down.’ She’s standing over my bed. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll write it down.’ Next morning, got up to get my coffee, there was a piece of paper with a pen, and I said, ‘That woman is gonna hold me to this.’ I wrote down, Kay, I love you; I always have; I always will; Phil. It’s been many, many years ago, but she taped that to the headboard right above her head. So every time I get into bed I look over and see that note.” As Phil finishes the story, Miss Kay interjects, “So that helps remind you of what you wrote yourself right?” She says, her mouth open and laughing in a playful, joking manner. “And that’s when I realized that women are very strange crea-

All photos provided by the Robertson family

tures,” says Phil in his dry wit. Their relationship, which began when Kay was 14 and Phil was 16 (that’s when they began dating), has survived high school, college, some pretty dark times (as we talk about in the main story), and the good times (with business flourishing). “We’re still here,” says Phil, as he throws his hand up and messes with a piece of paper. “High school sweethearts,” says Miss Kay grinning. Then the conversation goes back and forth as if they were on the show. Says Al: “High school quarterback and the head cheerleader.” Miss Kay: “I wasn’t the head, I was just a cheerleader.” Al: “You were at the top of the pyramid.” Phil: “Oh you were the head cheerleader.” Miss Kay: “I was the shortest cheerleader.” Al: “You were at the top of the pyramid, Ma, back in those days.” Miss Kay: “That’s right.” Says Phil, as he slaps his knee emphatically: “Miss Kay is an exact replica of Sarah, Abraham’s wife: kind, gentle-spirited—” Miss Kay: “And I call you Master.” Phil: “Which is a great woman in God’s sight, you are her daughters if you do what’s right. Don’t give way to fear. That’s Miss Kay. She’s like Sarah. She treats me like a King. She literally treats me like her Master. And I don’t force her to, she’s just that type of woman.” Miss Kay: “I’m glad you didn’t say I was a Proverbs 31 woman, because I sure don’t like getting up early.” Their relationship, full of humor, full of love, full of family. Exactly what the show portrays, and just the way God intended. Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine. Aaron May / Sports Spectrum

From left to right: Al Robertson, Phil Robertson, Kay Robertson and Willie Robertson.

Click the video above to watch Phil Robertson talk about his passion for preaching and loving others.

Phil, fittingly, begins preaching again, as if he has 1,000 topics in his mind to choose from at any given time. “The resurrection of the dead pretty well trumps the momentary pleasure of sin,” he says, wisely, referring to Jesus. “The longlegged chicks that show up, you say, ‘Is it more powerful than the resurrection of the dead?’ Naw, not even a race. You just think about the resurrection of the dead stacking up with anything on this earth, all your sins removed, your dead, cold body being energized and standing back up on the earth—I think that’s going to hold me in place right here.” Phil pauses, then points at Miss Kay. “My little sex machine is sitting over there,” he says. Miss Kay looks up at the ceiling and laughs. “It’s like banana pudding;’ I can have it every night if I want to.” Phil’s sex talk continues for several more minutes, and you’d think it’d be awkward and uncomfortable but it’s not. Al and Willie are used to it, and anyone who watches Duck Dynasty is used to seeing it—the sex talk, not the sex. “If I could have muted him,” Al laughs, “I would have done it 20 years ago.” A reporter’s face is beet red, nonetheless, from laughing so hard, and Willie is staring at his desk, shocked but not really shocked at all, perhaps slightly distraught his father just quoted Ezekiel 23:20. It’s these moments that make you understand why Duck Dynasty’s Season Three premier trafficked 8.6 million viewers, A&E’s mostwatched telecast in its history, and why it’s the most popular reality show on cable television. Put four of them in a room, and you can be entertained for hours. Throw Si or Jase or “Mountain Man” in there, and you have a circus. At the same time, the scene stands in stark contrast to the Robertsons of the 1970s—a marriage that was on the rocks and a family that was falling apart. Here were Phil and Miss Kay, 40 years later, talking as if they had just gotten back from their honeymoon. In a sense, there’s something beautiful and admirable, and not so taboo, about Phil’s adoration for his bride, even after all these years. “And I usually tell em,’” Phil continues his sex talk, “’When you get my age, you’re just trying to get it over with without getting

“The resurrection of the dead pretty well trumps the momentary pleasure of sin.”

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hurt, without straining a muscle or something.” Phil pauses, the room flooding with laughter all over again, then looks at a reporter. “Put that in your magazine.” Deal.

Duck Days

Click the video above to watch Willie Robertson talk about his transition to the CEO of Duck Commander.

Just as the Robertson family wasn’t always thriving, neither was their business. Phil, the original Duck Commander, laid the foundation for their family’s success. He received a patent for the duck call he created in the early 1970’s and the Duck Commander Company was born. After the success of the calls, Phil began a series of duck-hunting videos that developed a worldwide following. By the time Willie turned 30, business had become stagnant, and he took over the company. “He was black-marketing gum and candy in elementary school and shutting down the concesAll photos provided by the Robertson family

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Who’s Al? As Willie Robertson sits at his desk, signing what appears to be posters or lithographs, his oldest brother, Al Robertson, stands behind the desk, casually placing a new poster or lithograph in front of Willie each time Willie finishes signing. It’s a perfect picture of who Al is, a behind-the-scenes (or behind-the-camera) guy who helps to keep things moving. He is married (to Lisa) and has two daughters (Anna and Alex), he is the oldest of the four Robertson brothers (Jase, Willie and Jep) and he is the only brother not on the hit TV show, Ducky Dynasty. He is also easily distinguishable as he’s the only Robertson brother who is clean shaven; there is no trademark beard like his brothers, father, uncle and other Duck Commander employees have. And, until about a year ago, he was the only brother not in the family business; he had been a preaching pastor at White’s Ferry Church of Christ (where the Robertson family attends) for 20 years before leaving to help with the ever-growing family business. Even when we interviewed Willie, Phil and Miss Kay for Sports Spectrum’s special Duck Dynasty issue (an interview that Al set up), Al sat out of the view of the camera. When he thought of things to add to the interview, he would help fill in the gaps by offering anecdotes, facts or asking his family to share stories with us about certain events in their lives. He was the glue that held things together, yet he stayed inconspicuous and seemed fine with that. In a society, and in a reality TV world, where people are constantly looking to bring attention to themselves, it was refreshing to see someone who seemed comfortable just serving, helping and wanting to keep attention on others. It was also refreshing talking to him on the phone and through email because we sensed a genuineness, goodness and trusting nature about him even though he didn’t know us and we didn’t know him. At the end of the interview, when we were getting directions to attend Wednesday night church with the Robertsons, Al was getting ready to drive down the road to attend a viewing of someone from the church who had died. The following day he was going to the funeral. He said, even though he had left being a pastor full time, that a pastor never truly relinquishes roles like trying to provide comfort to others in times of need. It’s easy to see how his time as a pastor prepared him to be a servant leader—even as the oldest brother in the family. It’s also easy to see that he took Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:26-28 to heart when Jesus said, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Mandid not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine.

All photos provided by the Robertson family

Baseball & Bucks Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has a tattoo on his right arm; it’s a drake. LaRoche also has a son; and his name is “Drake.” On his left arm is a buck tattoo. You could say the guy loves hunting. It’s LaRoche, in fact, along with Duck Commander and Buck Commander CEO Willie Robertson’s network of Major League Baseball players that have helped take the Robertsons’ business to the next level. Robertson and LaRoche’s relationship began when LaRoche called Duck Commander’s headquarters to order a hat back around 2007. Though the Robertsons had never heard of LaRoche, who was playing for the Atlanta Braves at the time, Robertson ended up connecting well with LaRoche and later contacting him about a deer-hunting project, now known as Buck Commander. “I started Buck Commander because I always saw potential in the deer market,” Robertson says. “As I found out more about TV, there’s only a few water fowl shows, but deer is everywhere. You can hunt deer in all 50 states. “I saw a lot more money changing from the deer side, from the industry perspective and the customers. We had deer hunting

growing up, and we just happened to run into these guys who were baseball players. They were fans for our stuff, and I heard all these deer stories. I just said, ‘Why don’t we start a deer hunting company?’ And I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what we were going to do and how it was all going to work out, but I said, ‘Let’s go have fun, and allow the entertainment to drive the brand and license that out.’” The two of them took their passion for the outdoors and did just that: They had fun. Since the MLB season ends in October and doesn’t start until February, LaRoche’s schedule was perfect for deer hunting and perfect for Robertson’s new business endeavors. Robertson decided to not only expand the family business from a merchandise standpoint, adding Buck Commander to Duck Commander, but also decided to expand in entertainment. With the help of LaRoche, Robertson pioneered the development of their second show on the Outdoor Channel: Buck Commander (Duck Commander, being their first), a show dedicated to deer hunting. As the show came together, LaRoche also became friends with two up-and-coming country stars in Atlanta: Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Rick Diamond / Getty Images

Willie Robertson poses with friends Jason Aldean (left) and Luke Bryan (right) at the 48th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards Archery Event.

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“At the time, they were not famous at all,” Robertson says. “Adam was the real connector, and he hung onto them and checked on their careers. We just invited them to come to hunting camp with us, actually, just to hear them sing by the camp fire. We need some entertainment while we were there. We brought them along onto the project, and once the opportunity came along, they jumped on it.” The cast of Buck Commander on Outdoor Channel makes for an interesting dynamic: Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson hunting with Major League Baseball players Chipper Jones, Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin, and LaRoche, and country music stars Bryan and Aldean. “A baseball player gets interviewed every day of the year,” Robertson says. “The country singers are naturally entertaining. It wasn’t difficult to make a hunting show and put it together.” Stephen Copeland is a staff writer at Sports Spectrum magazine.

Click the video above to watch Willie Robertson talk about his friends in Major League Baseball and the country music world who are a part of Buck Commander.

Click the video above to watch Willie Robertson talk about fame and his platform to influence the influential.

sion booths,” says Phil, who laughs, thinking of Willie’s business roots, “going to Wal-Mart, buying them in bulk…I said, ‘He’s the next CEO!’” If there’s one thing that gets Willie talking like Phil, it’s business. He’s the marketer, risk-taker and entrepreneur behind the company. Phil perfected duck calls; he’s the engineer. Willie made it explode. He did more with their sponsors—shot gun companies, shell companies, camouflage manufacturers. He got other movers and shakers on board—guys like Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, and country stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. Willie started Buck Commander. Under Willie, TV opportunities arose, and he became the executive producer of their two shows on the Outdoor Channel, “Duck Commander” and “Buck Commander.” “I pretty much immersed myself in figuring out how that worked,” says Willie, telling the story of the company. “How you

“I think that was very important because God was setting us up for what was to come, and having that experience really helped us.”

Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

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God Wins the Walrus This editorial was published in the March 2013/Volume 27, Number 2 issue of Sports Spectrum magazine. I was trying to sing “Jesus the Nazarene” but instead stood amazed in the presence of my own stupidity. We were at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., attending church with the Robertson family, the clan of redneck millionaires featured on the hit-program Duck Dynasty on A&E—and that’s when it hit me. I stared up at the ceiling and bit my lip, like I had just thrown an interception. The Robertsons sang joyfully in the row in front of us. I wanted to sing along but could no longer focus. Moisture appeared on my forehead like dew, as did

red splotches on my neck, like flowers blooming. Idiot, I said to myself. A couple Sundays ago, I was sweating in church because the man in front of me was groping his significant other, as if they were in the privacy of their bedroom. I think he had his coffee in one hand and his woman’s derrière in the other, as he bobbed his head to an epic guitar solo on stage. Protestants, I sighed, as I took a sip of coffee and opened the Bible App on my phone. That was more out of fear something R-rated was about to unfold in the middle of worship; this time, the time with the Robertsons, I was sweating out of sheer embarrassment—both uncomfortable nonetheless, both void of focus. “Brett,” I whispered to my editor. He turned. I gulped. “I left my voice recorder in Willie’s office,” I stupidly said. Amateur hour. Here we were, a national magazine that has been around for 29 years and one of its dimwit reporters left his recorder at the interview—back at the Duck Commander warehouse where Willie and his father Phil, his mother Miss Kay and his brother Al graciously gave us two hours of their time before Wednesday night church service. In case you’re wondering, a reporter forgetting his recorder would be like Jimi Hendrix forgetting his guitar backstage or Obi-Wan leaving his light saber on his nightstand before one of the Clone Wars. If any of the Robertsons would have turned around and seen me, they may have suspected I was about to go up front to the altar, or that I was a nervous fellow, or that I simply had the runs. The pastor of White’s Ferry supposedly gave a great sermon that evening, a sermon I didn’t hear. My mind was journeying through some sort of fictional nightmare where Willie would find my recorder the next day, then suspect we were attempting to sort of wiretap his office, then talk about it on Duck Dynasty, tainting Sports Spectrum’s credibility in front of millions. I wondered if my imagination was playing tricks on me. So after church, I scurried out of the sanctuary (like I had the runs) and into the parking lot to search the car. I searched it like I was TSA. Nothing. Defeated, I walked back toward the church. That’s when I saw Uncle Si in the parking lot. He was talking to someone—Justin Martin, I think—and he was shooting an imaginary gun, maybe explaining a story or perhaps shooting something imaginary. I thought about approaching Si and asking him for a ride to the warehouse. I pictured him driving us there, then realizing he didn’t have a key because Willie didn’t trust him enough, then climbing through a window with me. Alarms would go off, and the cops would come. It’d still ruin the credibility of our magazine, but it would make a nice column, “Si and I” or “The Sound of Sirens” or something. But I decided to keep walking, swiftly dodging his imaginary bullets. Si and I together would be bad news, anyway. The world may implode, I concluded. When I returned to the sanctuary, Miss Kay was giving out “goodbye” hugs, thanking us, ironically, for spending time with them. “Thank you so much!” she said, cheerful and loving like

All photos provided by the Robertson family

she is on the show. “Please come back again. I’ll cook for you guys!” Supposedly she called me a “cutie,” too, but I was too stressed to hear it, which is probably a good thing, because I think it would have made me crumble—like thinking of her southern cooking wasn’t enough, already. “Phil,” I said, nervously, after hugging his wife, Miss Kay, “I feel like an idiot, but I left my voice recorder in Willie’s office.” I don’t want to know what he was thinking, but I take comfort that, because he didn’t know what an Xbox was one episode, there was at least a slight chance he didn’t know what a voice recorder was. “Godwin will open the warehouse for you,” he said, like it was nothing. “Not a problem.” I breathed a sigh of relief, and looked over at John Godwin, simply known as “Godwin.” I recognized him. He looked like a walrus. Also, he got sprayed by a skunk one episode. Turns out, Godwin let us into the warehouse, we found my recorder, and we all talked in the parking lot for a good 45 minutes beneath the Louisiana sky. Godwin told us his story. He used to be a drunk. He used to avoid church because he didn’t want to be around “holy rollers.” Then someone invited him to a cookout, which, if you’ve seen Godwin, was an invitation he wasn’t going to decline. He always admired the Robertsons because he’s an avid hunter, and the Robertsons invented the Duck Commander duck call. At the cookout, however, Phil preached and Godwin’s life changed. Now, Godwin practically is a Robertson. He’s on Duck Dynasty. He’s in their hunting DVDs. He has 100,000 Twitter followers and is a star. And yet, like the Robertsons, he’s very unassuming, very down-to-earth and genuine. It’s all about God, not himself. Through Godwin, you saw who the Robertsons really were. He was walking, talking proof of the impact the family has on people. He was changed. As we left West Monroe, I was no longer stressed. I was happy I forgot my recorder, happy we talked to Godwin, and happy we got to know the Robertsons. I fell asleep in the backseat, dreaming of Miss Kay’s cooking. And I was happy, happy, happy. Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine.

made money. If you made money. If you build your brand…I think that was very important because God was setting us up for what was to come, and having that experience really helped us.” Phil stands up. “You heading out?” Willie asks. “Gotta take a leak. I’ll be back.” Phil replies. Willie laughs, then continues. “When the opportunity came for Duck Dynasty, it just came from a producer out of Hollywood who was from Louisiana—cold email to the information box at our company. It said, ‘I think you guys actually have the gifts to go big.’” They filmed two pilots, A&E picked it up, and the rest is history. Phil returns two minutes later and sits back down. “They probably had their fingers crossed, hoping it wouldn’t be a functioning family,” Willie laughs. “They probably hoped it would be a train wreck.” “It’s morphed into a comedy,” Phil says. “Yeah, they didn’t see it ever being a comedy,” Willie agrees. “One day,” Phil explains, beginning a story about his brother, Si, “The producers said, ‘Who is that?’ I said, ‘That’s Old Si.’” “They said, ‘Oh, gosh, he’s dumb enough to be on television.’”

Duck Dynasty

Willie was the one who convinced Phil to do the show. “Every day,” Miss Kay says, “Phil would say, ‘Why would anybody watch this show?’” Phil scratches his head and strokes his beard, as if he’s still confused why anyone would watch it. The Robertsons have butted heads with Hollywood a little, but not much. Early on, for example, the editors in Los Angeles inserted “bleeps” to make it appear like the Robertsons were cursing, when they weren’t. That didn’t go well with Phil. Another time, they cut out “in Jesus’s name” in their end-of-the-episode, sitting-around-the-dinner table prayer. That didn’t go well with Phil, either. “I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘in Jesus’ name’? They said, ‘Well, those editors are probably just doing that, and they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.’ I said, ‘Let’s see now, what year is it?’ They said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Well, what year is it?’ They said, ‘Well, it’s 2012.’ I said, ‘2012, A.D. Anno Domini. Year. Of. Our. Lord. I said, ‘You Hollywood cats are counting time by Jesus just like I am. I don’t think it would hurt to throw his name in there time to time. Your calendar is based on it.’” At the end of the day, however, the show has only expanded their platform. They understand they’re still dealing with Hol-

Click the video above to watch Willie Robertson talk about taking over as the CEO of Duck Commander.

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All photos provided by the Robertson family

did you know?

Photo provided by Sports Spectrum magazine

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

• Willie and Korie ran a church camp before Willie became the CEO of the family business, Duck Commander. • Si’s blue plastic cup that he drinks tea out of was given to him by his mom while he was stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. • The tea mentioned on the show and made famous by Si, is unsweet—not the usual sweet tea of the South. • A&E asked the Robertsons to wear different bandanas on the show so that producers could tell the brothers apart. Willie chose one that looks like the American flag and rarely wears it in public. • Willie originally began wearing a bandana to keep his hair out of his eyes. • Although Si’s wife is never mentioned and has never appeared on the show, Si has been married (to Christine) for 43 years. • Phil and his son, Al, are elders at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ. • Miss Kay was 16 years old and Phil was 20 when they were married. They began dating when Miss Kay was 14. Korie was 19 and Willie 20 when they were married in college at Harding University in Arkansas. • Phil and Miss Kay hosted a house church and led weekly Bible studies for 20 years before Phil’s speaking schedule picked up and began taking him out of town to share Christ all over the country. • Phil started ahead of future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw while the two were at Louisiana Tech. • Miss Kay’s real name is Marsha Kay, Si is Silas Merritt, Jase is Jason Silas, Jep is Jules Jeptha, and Mountain Man is Tim Guraedy. • Al, the only Robertson brother not on the show, was a pastor for 20 years at White’s Ferry Church of Christ. He and his wife, Lisa, have two girls (Anna and Alex). • The rest of the brothers’ family tree: Willie and Korie have five children (Rebecca, John Luke, Sadie, Will and Bella); Jase and Missy have three (Reed, Cole and Mia); Jep and Jessica have four (Lily, Merritt, Priscilla and River). • Mountain Man, known for talking slow, owns his own airconditioning repair business and is co-host of The Patrick and Mountain Man Show on Mondays from 3-6 p.m. on Z-107.5 in Ruston, La. The show’s website says, “You’ll hear a little good music, a little outdoors report, a little good Word and plenty of common sense from The Mountain Man!” Mountain Man, originally from Portland, Tenn., studied at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tenn. To watch the video stream of his show, go to this link: http://www.citylinktv.com/ruston-red-peach-media Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine.

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Click the videos above to watch Phil and Willie Robertson talk about A&E, family values, and Duck Dynasty.

lywood. “It’s not the Pat Robertson show,” Phil says. Another story comes to Phil’s mind. “The other day, some guy got in touch with us,” he says. “He was an atheist. This atheist was watching Duck Dynasty and said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but these people do.’ He said, ‘I don’t have

that. I don’t have a family like that. My family, we all hate each other.’ Friction. Drugs. Fighting. He said, ‘I wish I could be like that.’ He got in touch with somebody, they preached the gospel, he got converted, and he sent a letter down.’” And to think: All of this may have never happened—if Phil hadn’t walked away from football, if Miss Kay hadn’t forgiven Phil, if they hadn’t surrendered to God and gotten their lives back on track. Now, Phil and Willie are invited to hundreds of churches every year. Many have even traveled to West Monroe just to be baptized by the Robertsons—they trickle in each week, Phil says— because they were impacted by the show. “Obviously, athletically, Dad had the talent and ability to be on a stage like a lot of athletes do,” Al says. “But what’s ironic is that, instead of that, it’s like God had a whole other plan, because this is something totally unique and different. This other door was down the road that we wouldn’t even know, and now, we’re just going through that door—” “Ohhh, this is the big door, right here,” Phil says, excitedly. “This is our chance to—” “Preach to millions.” Stephen Copeland is a staff writer at Sports Spectrum magazine.

All photos provided by the Robertson family

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sportsspectrum.com

ANOTHER ANGLE

BY STEPHEN COPELAND

OPINION

stephen.copeland@sportsspectrum.com | Follow @steve_copeland

I

Resurrect your reverence know a basketball agent who went to the NBA All-Star game last year in Orlando. He was networking with some guys, hanging around after the game, and took a look around at his surroundings. He noticed a number of women hanging around after the game—a lot of women—and not just any women, women who wanted something. High heels. Short skirts. Tight shirts. Makeup-coated faces, like apples dipped in caramel. Women waiting for the players to come out so they could get their shot, whether it was a one-night stand or a life as a basketball wife. I say all of this because I don’t know if I could take it. I’d never wish fame on anyone. I’d certainly rather be Landry Schmidt than Tim Tebow. And who’s Landry Schmidt? Well, you’ve never heard of him. And neither

have I. Standing in Willie Robertson’s office this February at the Duck Commander warehouse, I wondered what it would be like to have 8 million people, on average, watching Duck Dynasty—your show— every Wednesday on A&E, to be recognized everywhere you go because you’re on television and you’re hairy. So I asked them. I asked Phil and Willie if it was hard to be famous, if sin was more tempting, if fame was corrupting. Willie said his fame actually keeps him more accountable. Because he’s influencing more people, he’s more guarded and more aware of his actions. That was fascinating. Then Phil spiritualized it: “The resurrection of the dead pretty well trumps the momentary pleasure of sin,” he said. “The long-legged chicks that show up, you say, ‘Is it more powerful than the resurrection of the dead?’” And that was fascinating, too. Then came Easter, and I started thinking about this whole “resurrection of the dead” thing, since that’s what Easter is about, and that’s when everyone actually acts like Jesus rose from the dead, at least on Twitter and Facebook. Not that that’s bad. I just know that the resurrection didn’t cross my mind three days after Easter, which is kind of sad, considering that what Jesus did, conquering death and all, is really quite a remarkable thing. I started thinking about what Phil said that day at the Duck Commander warehouse. As a Christian, I obviously like it conceptually: The momentary pleasure of sin doesn’t compare to something as life-changing and eternally significant as the resurrection. But how do I get there? It’s good in theory. But how do I believe that? How do I trample the temptation of sin with the glory of the empty tomb? I have a buddy named Mike who meets me once a week to talk about topics that make my head explode a little. Mike works for College Golf Fellowship (CGF) and recently put together a devotional for college golfers across the country. Mike says that he, too, hardly thought about the resurrection three days after Easter. I think most people are like this, not just Mike and I, and, before I beat myself up too much, I think about guys like John the Baptist, the greatest man who ever lived according to Jesus, who doubted during Christ’s final hour; or those who saw the risen Christ and still doubted (Matthew 28:17); or Paul, who pretty much went to seminary with Jesus in the desert, yet still cries out in Philippians

3:10 that he wants to “know the power of his resurrection,” kind of indicating that it’s still a journey for him, even though he spent time with the risen Christ. What Mike told me was just that—that knowing the resurrection is a journey of sorts. Intimacy, Mike says, plus reverence, equals wonder. You never really get to the end of the journey, at least, not until you are in heaven. You just kind of wonder about it more out of intimacy and reverence. It kind of makes sense we can’t fathom the resurrection, if you think about it. But reverence, I’ve found, is difficult in a society where its people are constantly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, email, and so forth— hardly slowing down, hardly thinking outside of our own little worlds. Phil Robertson, on the other hand, has to be one of the simplest people I’ve ever met. He’s never owned a cell phone and can’t operate a computer. He’s a woodsman who spends time out in creation and a family man who is in love with Miss Kay. I sometimes wonder if Phil knows God in an entirely different way than the iPhone, multi-task generation knows God. Part of me thinks he has a better grasp on the resurrection than most. He has a simple, reverent lifestyle. I don’t know. Just a thought. I’m trying to slow down a little—to look up at the sky a little more, to take pictures of the trees in bloom outside my apartment and write a poem about it, to brew coffee in the morning and listen to the birds in the woods outside my office window, or watch Passion of the Christ and really think about what it would have been like. The other night, I was laying in bed listening to a debate between Sean McDowell and James Corbett. Don’t ask me why. It was a long, dark night of the soul, and I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to be a theology nerd, which is kind of a hobby of mine. Anyway, Sean McDowell is, like, 33, and Corbett is in his 60’s or something. I was blown away by McDowell’s wisdom, knowledge, and thoughtfulness toward some of the deepest issues of life at such a young age. I felt like he knew God. If you came into my office today, you would see “Sean McDowell at 33” written on my white board. To me, it’s a challenge for meaning. I know nothing about the guy, honestly; I just listened to a debate, the one I’ve been speaking of. I’ll never be him, but I at least want to know God like he does. I want intimacy. I want reverence. I want wonder. I want to move in the right direction, toward Sean McDowell at 33. Like Phil Robertson, Stephen Copeland is a staff like Paul, I want to know writer and columnist at Christ and the power of Sports Spectrum magazine. His resurrection, to get His column tackles sports lost in that mystery. and faith from another

“I’m trying to slow down a little, to look up at the sky a little more...”

angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2013

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April 2013 DigiMag