February 2014 Digimag
Sports Spectrum -- where faith and sports connect
seahawks quarterback russell Wilson MICHAEL ROBINSON: A LONG YEAR, BUT A GOOD YEAR Beyond A Super Bowl PEYTON MANNING'S TARGET IN BOTH INDY AND DENVER, TIGHT END JACOB TAMME INSIDE: MORE BRONCOS AND SEAHAwkS PLAYER INTERVIEWS WINSTON JUSTICE: FINDING FAITH IN DEPRESSION CONTENTS FEATURES CLOSEUP: George Gojkovich 38 Elsa / Getty Images Seattle Seahawks: Clint Gresham (p4); Denver Broncos: Joel Dreessen (p6); Seattle Seahawks: Russell Okung (p8); Denver Broncos: Manny Ramirez (p10); Seattle Seahawks: Chris Maragos (p12); Denver Broncos: Wesley Woodyard (p14); Seattle Seahawks: Rocky Seto (p16); Denver Broncos: Jacob Tamme (p18); Seattle Seahawks: Russel Wilson (p20); Indianapolis Colts: Clyde Christensen (p22) 34 PEACE WITHIN THE STORM Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson could have been devastated by bad news, but instead he relied on his faith that gave him peace despite his circumstances BY BRETT HONEYCUTT RESCUED FROM JUSTICE Suffering from depression after trying to fill a void football and partying couldn’t, Denver Broncos offensive tackle Winston Justice found Christ BY SEAN JENSEN SPECIALS 24 26 30 Matthew Stockman / Getty Images PAST CHAMPIONS BY SPORTS SPECTRUM A year-by-year recollection of Super Bowls past including scores, MVPs and location 44 Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images Elsa / Getty Images BEYOND A SUPER BOWL BELIEF THROUGH THE DYNASTIES Enjoyment in purpose, daily living, trials and football BY STEPHEN COPELAND BY SPORTS SPECTRUM A look back at the decades, dynasties, and the thread of belief in football’s greatest Super Bowl champions THE MEANINGLESS QUEST BY SPORTS SPECTRUM The meaningless and consuming pursuit of a Super Bowl has fooled many. So what’s your Super Bowl? What do you chase? OPINION IT OUT: Humility—we need 3 AIRING more of it Words and actions must add up BY BRETT HONEYCUTT 51 ANOTHER ANGLE: A city whispers When nothing transcends we depend on ourselves BY STEPHEN COPELAND SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Cover Photos: Ronald Martinez / Elsa / Getty Images 1 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 OPINION Humility—we need more of it R Richard Sherman’s post-game rant after the NFC Championship game has been a lesson in believability, apologies that carry no weight and a reminder that humility is difficult, but that it’s what God says He desires. He reminds us of this in Matthew 23:12 and tells us what will happen if we don’t, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Like some of you, I was shocked and disappointed when Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, screamed into the microphone during a postgame interview just after Seattle beat the San Francisco 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews asked Sherman to take her through that final play of the game when Sherman tipped a pass that was intended for receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone, and Seattle intercepted to seal the victory. “Well, I’m the best corner in the game!” Sherman screamed with his deep voice that seemed to be slowly going hoarse from the strain of yelling. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get. Don’t you ever talk about me!” “Who was talking about you?” Andrews asked, somewhat perplexed. “Crabtree! Don’t you open your mouth about the best or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick!” If this would have been an isolated incident, I would have still been shocked and disappointed, but I would have passed it off as adrenaline getting the best of someone and/or a player who didn’t care about sportsmanship, and then likely thought little about it. But it wasn’t an isolated incident. Sherman is known for taunting players, from instigating a skirmish with the Washington Redskins to his infamous post-game rant toward New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. That incident is where my mind immediately went after watching his interview with Andrews. After the New England game, he ran up to Brady after Seattle won and began taunting Brady. Then Sherman taunted even more by tweeting a photo of him screaming at Brady with the phrase, “U MAD BRO?” written on the picture. Later, he went on Fox NFL Kickoff and laughed about it. I also thought about the children who saw what he said after Seattle’s game against San Francisco and whether they were influenced to do the same. But then I thought about the parents who likely used it as a teaching moment about how not to act after winning and teaching them about humility and what God says about it: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 Later, though, when I read that Sherman had apologized, I thought that he had had time to digest things and saw how wrong he had been (that’s what an apology is; someone realizes they were wrong, admits it and moves on). He texted this apology to ESPN’s Ed Werder: "I apologize for attacking an individual and taking the attention away from the fantastic game by my teammates ... That was not my intent.” He even wrote the following in a column on Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning QB website on Jan. 30 (he has been writing a column since July): “If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this: Don't attack anybody. I shouldn't have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don't have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.” But those were just words. Convenient, I guess, because of the firestorm he found himself in after the game. How do I know that he still wants the attention and that his lesson to kids was as empty as a deflated football? Because on his personal website he is still selling t-shirts with the phrases he uttered to attack people, “Don’t you ever talk about me” and “You mad bro?” and a copy of his signature and logo on each shirt, bringing attention to himself. Humility doesn’t look like that. It looks like someone who Richard Sherman texted and wrote about (apologetic, sorry for a wrong committed, teaching lessons to children), but not what Richard Sherman is displaying by his past and current actions (his attacking rants and promoting and profiteering from what he said was wrong). Humility isn’t just saying someBrett Honeycutt is thing, it’s putting into action the managing editor of Sports Spectrum what you say. magazine. Follow It’s difficult, but it’s required him on Twitter: and desired by God. @Brett_Honeycutt. 3 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 4 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 NFL CLOSEUP: CLINT GRESHAM Clint Gresham - Seattle Seahawks long snapper “I’ve learned this year to lean on God’s promises. One of my favorite Bible verses talks about trusting in the Lord with all of your heart and leaning not on your own understanding. Even though our understanding can tell us one thing, God’s promises say something else. God calls us to trust His word and trust what He has said about our lives to drive our experiences up to the level of what His word says.” to watch Clint Gresham talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum CLICK HERE 5 6 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 NFL CLOSEUP: JOEL DREESSEN Joel Dreessen - Denver Broncos tight end "A man's patience brings him wisdom. Anytime you can gain wisdom, it's a good thing, and it will help you in the long runâ€ŚLife is about weathering the storms and taking it one day at a time. Football is what I do, but it's not who I am." to watch Joel Dreessen talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum CLICK HERE 7 Russell Okung - Seattle Seahawks tackle "That’s what our jobs are as believers—to use our gifts because there is a need for them to give them back to this world and give them back to the people" CLICK HERE 8 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 George Gojkovich / Getty Images to watch Russell Okung talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... NFL CLOSEUP: RUSSELL OKUNG SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum 9 Manny Ramirez - Denver Broncos center "I give Him all the glory. I definitely believe that without Him I wouldn't be here. He has taken care of us, and I'm not going to deter from that. I've been blessed, and it's been an amazing year for us." CLICK HERE 10 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to watch Manny Ramirez talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... NFL CLOSEUP: MANNY RAMIREZ SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum 11 George Gojkovich / Getty Images 12 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 NFL CLOSEUP: CHRIS MARAGOS Chris Maragos - Seattle Seahawks cornerback "Iâ€™ve chased the things of this world before I gave my life to who Jesus was. I chased the money. I chased the drugs. I was doing drugs and selling drugs. Doing all those types of things and those things that leave you so empty. When you are right with the Lord and seek Him, you find peace; when you step back into the world, you find out how broken and empty and how confusing it really is. Wave that white flag and He will surround and support you with so much love and joy and purpose in life, you will never want to think about going to that side of the fence." to watch Chris Maragos talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum CLICK HERE 13 14 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 NFL CLOSEUP: WESLEY WOODYARD Wesley Woodyard - Denver Broncos linebacker "God is the reason why I am here. I go to sleep every night giving Him thanks, and I wake up every morning and give Him praise. To me, this is the ultimate sacrifice to God, putting in a lot of hard work and following His plan. Never worry about anything that you can't control. Give it your all. Whatever you are doing, you can always uplift God's name." to watch Wesley Woodyard talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum CLICK HERE 15 Rocky Seto - Seattle Seahawks defensive passing game coordinator "The Bible says that Jesus gives us every spiritual blessing. Jesus gives us every spiritual blessing. Think about that. Better than the Super Bowl. Any championship. Any fame. Any acclaim.â€? CLICK HERE 16 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to watch Rocky Seto talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... Aaron May / Sports Spectrum NFL CLOSEUP: ROCKY SETO SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 17 Jacob Tamme - Denver Broncos tight end "One thing I know I've learned is that God is good, and He is faithful in all circumstances. Certainly, it's easy to say when you are a part of something like this. But I've learned that in all circumstances, it's been very encouraging me to me." CLICK HERE 18 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to watch Jacob Tamme talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... NFL CLOSEUP: JACOB TAMME SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum 19 Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks quarterback “Faith has brought me a long way. God has me here for a very particular reason, just to be here in front of all these people and go against the odds. That’s all God. That’s not me. But, in terms of facing adversity, I see adversity as opportunity. That’s the way I look about it, whether it’s a game or in life. It’s an opportunity to overcome.” CLICK HERE 20 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to watch Russell Wilson talk about his faith at Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day... NFL CLOSEUP: RUSSELL WILSON SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Aaron May / Sports Spectrum 21 Clyde Christensen is the quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts, the only team this season to beat the Denver Broncos (the NFL’s best offense of all time) and Seattle Seahawks (the NFL’s best defense this season). Sports Spectrum asked Christensen, “What are the keys to beating Denver and Seattle?” HOW TO BEAT DENVER 1. Kidnapping Peyton would be the easiest way. But if you can’t do that, then a couple things you have to do is keep him off the field. That offense, the more snaps they get the more points they score, so you have to be able to run the ball on their defense, you have to be able to run the clock, you have to be smart with the ball, you can’t give them a short field, you can’t give them extra possessions. They drive the ball, but you have to make it take some time. You’ve got to give them a little chance to somewhat self-destruct, which they don’t do often. 2. You have to be able to have somebody to play (Wes) Welker in that slot; he just gnaws away at you. He just eats away your foundation. The ball comes out so quick to him. And if you’re not all over it, he just takes it, and he just kind of keeps slicing you up. You don’t lose any limbs, but you sure do bleed profusely. You have to have someone who matches up to him. Seattle actually does have good defensive backs; they’re very strong in the secondary. game. There’s no other consolation prize. You know you have to find some spot where you can grab a possession with an onside kick that you can get a turnover, where you can flip the field somehow with your special teams and get some help that way. HOW TO BEAT SEATTLE 1. They play that good defense. You have to be able to get off the line of scrimmage with your receivers. They’re going to get hands on you. They’re corners are big, long, good players, and you have to get in some stacks and clusters and get some guys free to get up the field. If you can get off the line of scrimmage, you have some chances to complete some balls and you actually have a chance to complete a couple of big ones. They will gamble, they will take chances. 2. You have to control their pass rush. It will help having a neutral site. They’re hard to handle. (Like Denver) we had (Seattle) at home also, but they’re hard to handle at their place where their crowd is so loud and your offensive tackles can’t get off on the snap count. Denver will have a little advantage that they don’t have them in Seattle, but they have to control those outside guys. You can’t let Peyton get hit there. They’re excellent on getting the sack. 3. Try and make Peyton and their offense singledimensional. When they can get both (the passing and running games) going like they’ve been able to do this year, they’re extremely, extremely hard to stop. You 3. (Quarterback) Russell Wilson is a neat, neat, neat don’t know which to defend. Both running backs are kid, and has had two great years. You have to keep hard-nosed tough guys who get yards after contact, and him kind of contained. You can’t let him start getting if you let them have their way and start running their 15-yard runs. On third down, you’ve got to control him draws and start running around the corner and hitting and not let him run for first downs. He’s been - Baltimore Ravens the screens, combined with the passes, they’re tackle going to a master of third-and-10; you’re almost have some trouble. off the field and he pulls that “I’ll never ever wake up one day and get comfortable thing down and finds a with way 4. You have to not give them the big play. (Wide reto get a first down. my situation. It will always be unbelievable. I’ll always ceiver) Demaryius Thomas, whether it’s a screen that’s be a hard I know that’s all 4. God. Without him, I thrown one yard over the line worker. of scrimmage and then (Running back) Marrun for 90 (yards), or whether it’s a 90-yard bomb over shawn Lynch, he’s probably one of the top of everything. You just not cannot give them long best in the business. It’s hard to play them balls. You’ve got to make them go the long way. Give not in your eight-man front because he breaks tackles, them at least a chance to make them stop themselves they have a good offensive line, and they run the ball and give yourself a chance to pop a ball loose. well. Once they get running that thing, and all of a sudden you can’t get that ball back, the time of possession 5. You’re not going to win the game 7-6, or 10-7. It’s swings Seattle’s way, then they’re hard to handle also. just not going to be one of those kinds of games. (Peyton is) too gritty. He’s been doing it too long. You have to be conservatively aggressive, if you will, offensively, because you know you do have to score points if you want to have any chance to win this thing. Again, it’s the end of the rope here; you’re playing to win the Joel Dreessen 22 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to listen to Michael Oher talk about ‘The Blindside’... CLICK HERE Aaron May / Sports Spectrum LEARNING IN THE DESERT Two years ago, Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts, and the organization made changes from the front office to the coaches and also within the team. Staying, though, was Indianapolis Colts assistant Clyde Christensen, who had been with the Colts since 2002 coaching various offensive positions. He is now the quarterbacks coach and is mentoring Andrew Luck, the young gun who took over for Manning, who is now leading Denver in the Super Bowl. He shares with Sports Spectrum what God has been teaching him these last two years: “We had such a neat bunch of Christian coaches…For whatever reason, the Lord just kind of moved everyone on…and it’s been a lonely couple of years for me. I lost a bunch of Christian brothers. I think what I have found is that God fills that void. It’s just been precious time with Him. He is the treasure. The relationship with Him is what sustains you. The brothers in Christ are the dessert, if you will, but He is the whole meal in itself, and so it’s been fun to spend my time with Him and not with quite as many brothers. “And the other thing is that you don’t know what He’s up to. The Lord’s given us a neat opportunity to share around here and He’s brought some new faces, and believers, some unbelievers. “I’ve been reminded that God knows what He’s doing and to just relax in Him and relax and know He’s got a plan. We don’t know what that is, it’s not all been revealed to us. You don’t know what He’s up to, you don’t know where He needs other people. You don’t know what he’s preparing you for here or this is preparation for doing something different, somewhere else, a different team, a different position. All our (former coaches and players) are out in the league now. Was it for us all to encourage each other, get strong, and then He sends us out in the mission field, in what we’ve been called, the NFL, to reproduce in Him and for Him at other franchises? I’ve been greatly encouraged. “I get more and more peace that He’s so sovereign, so good, that He’s got such a magnificent plan, and just to make sure that I’m in it and getting myself and my ego and my selfishness, and all those things I continue to wrestle with, out of His way so that His work can be done.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. George Gojkovich SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 23 PAST CHAMPS Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Super Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl Bowl I: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10 (Jan. 15, 1967, Los Angeles) II: Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14 (Jan. 14, 1968, Miami) III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7 (Jan. 12, 1969, Miami) IV: Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7 (Jan. 11, 1970, New Orleans) V: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13 (Jan. 17, 1971, Miami) VI: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3 (Jan. 16, 1972, New Orleans) VII: Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7 (Jan. 14, 1973, Los Angeles) VIII: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7 (Jan. 13, 1974, Houston) IX: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6 (Jan. 12, 1975, New Orleans) X: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17 (Jan. 18, 1976, Miami) XI: Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14 (Jan. 9, 1977, Pasadena, Calif.) XII: Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10 (Jan. 15, 1978, New Orleans) XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31 (Jan. 21, 1979, Miami) XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19 (Jan. 20, 1980, Pasadena, Calif.) XV: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10 (Jan. 25, 1981, New Orleans) XVI: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21 (Jan. 24, 1982, Pontiac, Mich.) XVII: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17 (Jan. 30, 1983, Pasadena, Calif.) XVIII: Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9 (Jan. 22, 1984, Tampa, Fla.) XIX: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16 (Jan. 20, 1985, Stanford, Calif.) XX: Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10 (Jan. 26, 1986, New Orleans) XXI: New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20 (Jan. 25, 1987, Pasadena, Calif.) XXII: Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10 (Jan. 31, 1988, San Diego) XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16 (Jan. 22, 1989, Miami) XXIV: San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10 (Jan. 28, 1990, New Orleans) XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19 (Jan. 27, 1991, Tampa) XXVI: Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24 (Jan. 26, 1992, Minneapolis) XXVII: Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17 (Jan. 31, 1993, Pasadena, Calif.) XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13 (Jan. 30, 1994, Atlanta) XXIX: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26 (Jan. 29, 1995, Miami) XXX: Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (Jan. 28, 1996, Tempe, Ariz.) XXXI: Green Bay Packers 35, New England Patriots 21 (Jan. 26, 1997, New Orleans) XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24 (Jan. 25, 1998, San Diego) XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19 (Jan. 31, 1999, Miami) XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16 (Jan. 30, 2000, Atlanta) XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7 (Jan. 28, 2001, Tampa) XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17 (Feb. 3, 2002, New Orleans) XXXVII: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21 (Jan. 26, 2003, San Diego) XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29 (Feb. 1, 2004, Houston) XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21 (Feb. 6, 2005, Jacksonville, Fla.) XL: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10 (Feb. 5, 2006, Detroit) XLI: Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17 (Feb. 4, 2007, Miami) XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14 (Feb. 3, 2008, Glendale, Ariz.) XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23 (Feb. 1, 2009, Tampa) XLIV: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17 (Feb. 7, 2010, Miami) XLV: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25 (Feb. 6, 2011, Arlington, Texas) XLVI: New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17 (Feb. 5, 2012, Indianapolis, Ind.) XLVII: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31 (Feb. 3, 2013, New Orleans) Ronald Martin / Getty Images SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 25 26 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 BELIEF 60’s Images provided by Focus on Sport through the dynasties A look back at the decades, dynasties, and the thread of belief in football’s greatest Super Bowl champions “Jesus was able to sustain such a positive attitude because of his unfailing love for everyone around Him. It transformed the lives of all who came in contact with Him, even His persecutors. Jesus continues to have this same transformational effect on people today. Regardless of the successes I have experienced, if my life does not exhibit God’s love, it becomes less meaningful.” bart starr Bart Starr, five-time NFL Champion (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967), two-time Super Bowl champion (I, II) and two-time Super Bowl MVP (as told to Athletes in Action’s Beyond the Ultimate) SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 27 70’s mel blount “Whatever your situation is, there is a way out. That is to have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior… We are all God’s children. He has a purpose for all of us.” Mel Blount, four-time Super Bowl champion (IX, X, XIII, XIV) for the Pittsburgh Steelers “God is so important to me, for many reasons. He tells us in His Word that we have a soul and that our soul is going to live forever. The question becomes, ‘Where are we going to live forever? There are only two places we can go. We can either live with Christ, in heaven, or live forever separated from Him in a place called hell. Personally, I don’t want to live separated from Him. Everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what your position in life, needs to make a commitment to Christ. If you don’t you’re going to spend eternity separated from Him. There are only two teams. You can play on God’s team, or you can play against Him.” joe gibbs 80’s Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins, three-time Super Bowl-winning coach (XVII, XXII, XXVI) 28 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 90’s brent jones “I want people to see something different about me. When I speak in a church, I don’t want them to see who I am as being different than what I say.” Brent Jones, three-time Super Bowl champion (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) for the San Francisco 49ers “The challenges of being a husband and father, plus the tragedy of losing my own father, caused me to realize that I need Christ’s help and strength to be the man I need to be. I am not perfect, but Jesus says He will erase my mistakes and make me pure and clean. Today, I still experience ups-and-downs in life, but in Christ I have peace, joy and true happiness.” richard seymour SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 2000’s Richard Seymour, three-time Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) for the New England Patriots (as told to Athletes in Action’s Beyond the Ultimate) Images provided by Focus on Sport 29 THE MEANINGLE The meaningless and consuming pursuit of a Super Bowl has fooled many. So whatâ€™s your Super Matthew Stockman / Getty Images Bowl? What do you chase? 30 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 ESS QUEST SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 31 DON’T BE FOOLED deion sanders “The night we won the Super Bowl in San Francisco, I was the first one out of the locker room, the first one home, the first one to bed. And I said, ‘This, it ain’t what I thought it was. I’m not even happy.’ You got women everywhere, you still ain’t happy. You got clothes galore, you still ain’t happy. You got everything you wanted, but you still not happy.” Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys two-time Super Bowl champion (XXIX, XXX), Pro Football Hall of Famer tom brady “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” Tom Brady, New England Patriots, three-time Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) bob lilly “We buckled down in 1972 and beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI, 24-3. It was very exciting to finally win an NFL Championship. But I’ll never forget the morning after the game. Football had been 11 years of my life and I had accomplished all of my goals. Winning the Super Bowl was supposed to be the ultimate. But about 6:30 on the morning after the Super Bowl, I walked out on the parking lot of our hotel in New Orleans. There were beer bottles, beer cans and all kinds of trash left from the night before. I remember stumbling around and saying, ‘Is this all there is?’ This was 11 years of my life and I had accomplished all those goals and yet I was hollow inside. Suddenly, it was over; the elation and joy had burst like a balloon. I remembered something a man from West Texas told me one time. ‘Every man has a God hole. You can try to fill it with anything you want and you just can’t get satisfied until you fill it with Jesus. In fact, the more you try to fill it, the bigger the hole gets until you find Jesus.’ The hole in my soul just kept getting bigger. I played three more years and my focus was on accumulating material things. But no matter how much I accumulated, I still felt this emptiness inside.” Bob Lilly, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl VI champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 33 PEACE WITHIN THE STORM 34 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Elsa / Getty Images Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson could have been devastated by bad news, but instead he relied on his faith that gave him peace despite his circumstances BY BRETT HONEYCUTT SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 35 D ehydration. Kidney failure. Liver failure. Rapid weight loss. Job loss. All were part of a whirlwind of bad news for Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson. And though the seeming chaos would likely have been too much to handle for most, Robinson never feared in the midst of his trial. Jump back to the morning of August 17, just before Seattle was to host a preseason game against the Denver Broncos, the same Super Bowl XLVIII opponent of the Seahawks. Robinson had been taking Indocin, an antiinflammatory medication prescribed by the team, when he says he began feeling dehydrated. That, coupled with oncoming sickness, led to near liver and kidney failure. He lost weight and missed several weeks of practice. From there, Robinson’s news got worse —Seattle released him on Aug. 31. Sick, weak and without a job, Robinson had to think about recovering and gaining back the more than 30 pounds he lost (he dropped from 245 pounds to 212 pounds) before he could think about playing again —for any team. “I went to the hospital three separate times,” he said during the week of the Super Bowl. “Two times they sent me home and just told me to keep getting fluids. I went two weeks without eating, so I lost a lot of weight.” On the third time to the hospital, they figured it out. “(The doctors) hadn’t seen anything like this,” he said. “Then, once we brought the liver specialist in and the kidney specialist in, they had seen these types of reactions before and they were all over it.” Slowly, he regained his strength and weight, and later visited the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants, but circumstances brought him back to Seattle, which signed him on Oct. 22 when his replacement, Derrick Coleman, went down with a hamstring injury. Before being signed, thoughts of playing in the Super Bowl didn’t even cross his mind because he quietly wondered if he would ever play football again – for any team. When asked during the week of the Super Bowl if he would have been content with his career had he not played this season, he said, “Yeah, I think I would have been because I don’t want football to define me. I’m a man, a Christian, a husband and a father who just happens to play football, so I would have been okay with it. It would have been in God’s plan.” “I didn’t fear it, but yeah I did think about it. I definitely didn’t fear it because football doesn’t define me. I think that’s the big problem with players in this league. When they try and transition out of this game, football defines them. They don’t know what else to do. I encourage younger players all the time in the offseason to think of this offseason as if you’ve played your last season. What are you going to do? Get involved in other things. Have a drive, have a “… I don’t want football to define me. I’m a man, a Christian, a husband and a father who just happens to play football, so I would have been okay with it. It would have been in God’s plan.” 36 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 motive to get up in the morning other than football.” Many saw the tears he shed after the Seahawks won the NFC Championship against their rivals, the San Francisco 49ers and he’s been asked about them quite a bit. “I’ve gotten a lot of questions about me crying and all that type of stuff, but it was just I had a long year being cut, being sick, not really realizing the extent of the sickness,” he said during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. “I didn’t know that my kidneys were failing and my liver was failing. I had no idea. I just thought I was getting a bug. But again, hindsight is 20/20 and I’m glad I’m here now. I’ve got my weight back, got my strength back, and it was an opportunity to come back (to Seattle) and I’m glad it opened up.” It was tough, though, coming back to a team that had cut him, but he also understood the business side of the team’s decision. “I wrestle with it, but it was easy when I looked at my relationship with the guys on the team,” he said during the week of the Super Bowl. “That’s why you play this game, and I feel like a big reason why we’re here is that every man in that locker room thinks the same way. We all play because of the guy next to you. You all perform because the guy next to you is counting on you. Peer accountability, the biggest thing is accountability, so that’s what we try to do.” “I got released because I was sick early in training camp. It’s the business of the National Football League. If you can’t put a product on the field, you can’t be on the team. It’s definitely gratifying to be back here with the team and in the Super Bowl.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. to listen about Michael Robinson’s ups and downs this season,watch this video... CLICK HERE Christian Petersen / Getty Images SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 37 RESCUED from Justice SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION AFTER TRYING TO FILL A VOID FOOTBALL AND PARTYING COULDN’T, DENVER BRONCOS OFFENSIVE TACKLE WINSTON JUSTICE FOUND CHRIST BY SEAN JENSEN CLICK HERE 38 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 to watch Winston Justice get baptized... D e Elsa / Getty Images SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 39 P rotecting Peyton Manning, one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks in history, doesn’t come without bumps in the road. For Winston Justice, those bumps have been numerous. His storybook ascension started in high school, when Winston Justice started making his own decisions. Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, Justice defied his denomination’s edict to avoid organized athletics because it would expose children to “unwholesome associations” and started playing football when he was 16. Once he realized his potential, Justice recognized his means to an end: an athletic scholarship would allow him to get an education his family otherwise couldn’t afford and raise his profile among peers. “I was playing for the wrong reasons,” Justice says. “I was playing because football players at my school were considered cool.” He starred at Long Beach Poly High, a perennial national powerhouse, and Justice earned a scholarship to the University of Southern Cal, where he started on a national championship team and blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners (quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush). Selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Justice started every game for the Philadelphia Eagles at right tackle for several seasons for the Eagles. An ultimate winner by the world’s standards. So why did he feel like such a loser? “You have an all-star football player and everything seemed good,” Justice says of his collegiate career. “But I was really depressed.” Justice didn’t know why, and he desperately searched for his identity, yet only in what he described as “the wrong things.” “In women,” Justice says. “In football. In trying to be cool. In drinking. “And drugs.” The emptiness persisted. “It was like drinking water that didn’t quench my thirst,” he says, noting he would visit with counselors. But through the grace of God, and the love of a Christian woman, Justice has committed himself to Christ, and he’s now leading others to the light. “Teammates who knew him in college, they say, ‘Man, what are you doing?’” says Theodore Winsley, a pastor at Living Faith Christian Center in Pennsauken, N.J. who mentors Justice. “One of the greatest witnessing tools is to win, not just in the game, but in life.” 40 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Rob Tringali / SportsChrome IN A HAZE Justice’s parents and grandparents were active Jehovah’s Witnesses, so he regularly attended church. “I always went there because of them, not because my heart was into it,” he says. “I was never baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness.” But Justice’s parents didn’t strongly resist when he decided to play basketball and football at 16. And the more he played and the more he succeeded, the more supportive his parents became. Inside, though, he was conflicted and confused about his faith. “I was young and frustrated,” he says, “and I didn’t believe in anything.” At Southern Cal, Justice often found himself not wanting to get out of bed. Counselors provided him anti-depression meds, which didn’t seem to help. To this day, Justice wonders how much better he could have been if he were more focused and committed. “I’d drink, and party the whole night, then go into the 6 a.m. workouts really drunk,” Justice recalls. “So how effective can you really be?” Remarkably, though, Justice was talented enough to start as a true freshman and throughout his college career for the Trojans. He coasted even into his rookie season, during which he met a special young woman. After dating for a while, though, she left him. “I was young and selfish,” he says. “I was very into myself, just like a lot of football players are.” Justice tried to move on, yet he was still pained by her departure. Attempts to not think about her were fruitless. He pursued her to her hometown in Florida, but she’d changed: she found the Lord. “She was very serious about it,” Justice recalls. “I was like, ‘Only way I can get her back is to try this Christian thing.’ And I tried it, and Jesus took a hold of my life.” MAKING REAL COMMITMENTS He’s mature enough now to admit that he tried to be deceptive. “I figured I would fake it to get her back,” he says. “But my plan didn’t work.” He started to attend Summit Church in Naples, Fla., where he was profoundly impacted by Christian men. He returned to Philadelphia and connected with Winsley, who has been a chaplain with the Eagles for more than a decade and leads a Bible study for players. During Justice’s rookie season, he declined invitations from his roommate—receiver Jason Avant—to attend the Bible study. But Justice accepted during his second season. Hunter Martin SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 41 “When I met him, he was clearly lost,” Winsley says, “but he was very open, and he wanted the truth.” Winsley, who left a national sales management position at a fashion company to become a pastor, noted the unique challenge of professional athletes. “Money gives you the opportunity to express yourself,” he says. “So some (athletes) crash and burn quickly. When I met him, he had failed, and he knew he failed, and he just wanted the truth, so he was a sponge.” Winsley provided Justice with a book on world religions, including the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “He was in a cult,” Winsley says. “Then I showed him the difference between Christianity and Jesus Christ. He walked himself out, by just wanting what was truth.” Justice says none of this happened overnight. “It was gradual,” he says. “You hear about one day it all changes. “But each year, I grow closer to Christ.” Still, Justice says temptation is always right around the corner. He married that young woman, whose name is Dania, and they have a son (Selah) and a daughter (Calais). “Some people say it should be easy, but it’s a constant battle,” he says. “I think the enemy is always out to get you. I always try to keep myself in the Word, to keep it fresh in my mind.” He talks to children as much as possible about setting goals and valuing teamwork. During the offseason, he also helped rebuild an orphanage through the Mission of Hope in Haiti. “I’ve been to third world countries before,” Justice says. “But, this one had a disaster. In Uganda, they don’t know how poor they are. It’s just their reality. In Haiti, they know they’re poor.” One year, Justice raised money to build homes in Haiti. “You can build a house for $6,000, for five people,” he says. Winsley is proud of Justice. The Broncos’ 29-year-old offensive tackle who was signed in September after playing with Philadelphia (2006-2011) and Indianapolis (2012), committed himself to Christ during a Bible study session, and he’s hungry to learn more and more. After each meeting, Justice and Winsley would meet privately for at least another 20 minutes, with the player asking the pastor specific questions about the lesson and life. “He brought a couple of players to the Bible study, because of his witness,” says Winsley of Justice. Winsley added that Justice understands something that many other athletes do not. “Football isn’t a purpose, it’s a platform,” Winsley says. “A purpose doesn’t end. Football has a season. “If (players) don’t prepare for it, they think their life is going to end. That’s why it’s important these young men are grounded by a relationship with God.” Justice doesn’t separate football and religion anymore. “I work to glorify God,” Justice says. “I really felt that God put that in my heart. I think my goal is to be a great offensive tackle. But, my major goal is to glorify God. I want people to see Christ in me, when I play. Not being fearful, to giving his all on every play.” “I think the enemy is always out to get you. I always try to keep myself in the Word, to keep it fresh in my mind.” Sean Jensen has been a beat writer and columnist who covered the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings for the Chicago Sun-Times and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He is currently the editor of Thrive Sports. 42 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 43 49 B S ENJ DA AN 44 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Beyond A Super Bowl BY STEPHEN COPELAND JOYMENT IN PURPOSE AILY LIVING, TRIALS ND FOOTBALL to watch players from the Seattle Seahawks talk about their faith... Otto Gruele Jr / Getty Images CLICK HERE SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 45 S 46 omewhere in this wacky, Super Bowl Media Day circus are lessons to be learned. This is what I try to say to myself as a superhero from Nickelodeon challenges Russell Wilson to a staring contest; a striped Waldo is wandering around and members of the media are actually interviewing him; a guy from VH1 is wearing an old, colonial outfit, or something with a bib, and I picture us having an epic sword fight that makes its way onto Pete Carroll’s podium. Media Day is an insult to journalism, in some ways. You’ve got people from ESPN and Sports Illustrated battling with Nickelodeon’s “Pick Boy” to squeeze in a question with a possible Super Bowl winning quarterback. And some of the reporters from big, daily papers are actually pressed to crank out articles, yet they patiently wait their turn as lunatics ask questions like “Is this a must-win game?” or “What’s your favorite beer?” It’s not that I don’t like Media Day—I do. In some ways, the circus atmosphere is quite fitting considering the present state of journalism. And it is important to remember: This isn’t the State of the Union address; it’s only sports. If anything, it makes me wish I had brought my Yoda mask. But it is difficult to have in-depth interviews at Media Day, and this is perhaps what frustrates me the most. Because Sports Spectrum prides itself on its feature stories, I mostly just see Media Day as an opportunity to gather multimedia content for our YouTube channel. This is my third Media Day, and I’ve learned that it’s difficult to get more than a question or two in before another reporter barges in and asks about offenses or defenses. It’s not the most intimate setting for deep conversations, either, when you half expect to see a clown riding around on a unicycle or trapeze artists tight-roping above you. There are, however, lessons to be learned on this day, and I would soon learn that it has nothing with the atmosphere, but rather the hearts of the people who are willing to share them. IN PURPOSE... At past Super Bowl Media Days, the players who weren’t stationed at a podium would be scattered around the stadium for you to freely approach. This one is different, possibly because it’s in the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the home of the New Jersey Devils, a much smaller venue than a football stadium. To compensate for its size, they have barred off areas for the remaining players who aren’t at a podium to congregate. I laugh to myself, as they remind me of pigs rounded up in a pen. I think about feeding one an apple and telling him he’ll make a nice meal one day. These barred-off areas, however, make the players especially difficult to access. Also, Marshawn Lynch is in one of these areas instead of on his own podium, which has led to the clutter. Lynch is saying something, and by something, I mean a word or two, and that’s when I spot Seahawks long snapper Clint Gresham. Gresham is the founder of, in my opinion, one of the coolest football videos that came out this year called “Making Of A Champion,” featuring many players and coaches on the Seahawks talking about their faith. It has nearly half a million views on YouTube, featuring quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, safety Chris Maragos, defensive passing game coordinator Rocky Seto, running back coach Sherman Smith, and himself. It’s something they funded on their own and released for free. Sports Spectrum videographer Aaron May and I fight our way through the crowd and finally make it up front. “Man, I love the video,” I say. Gresham smiles, and shakes my hand. “Well, I’ve got one for you, then,” he says, pulling out a DVD from his jacket pocket. “How many you have in there?” I laugh. “Quite a bit,” he smiles. In the back of my mind, I’m fascinated by the idea he plans on handing all of these out to the media, that, on a day when SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Jonathn Ferrey / Getty Images SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 47 the media is gathering content from him, he’s giving something very meaningful back to them. “It was humbling (to make the DVD),” he says. “There were times during training camp that I wasn’t sure if we were going to go through with it…But it’s just a privilege to be used by Him. It seemed like such a big task, and trying to coordinate all of it was crazy. But God is faithful, man. If we honor Him and give Him the glory, He is faithful to bring us to a position to honor Him. “I’ve learned this year to lean on God’s promises. One of my favorite Bible verses talks about trusting in the Lord with all of your heart and leaning not on your own understanding. Even though our understanding can tell us one thing, God’s promises say something else. God calls us to trust His Word and trust what He has said about our lives to drive our experiences up to the level of what His Word says.” His mindset is as purpose-driven as they come, and I look down and see it fleshed out in the DVD I’m holding—a vivid example that the worldview of many of the Seahawks stretch far beyond football, and, yes, even the Super Bowl. IN DAY-TO-DAY LIVING... That being said, just because some of the players and coaches on the Seahawks are Christians, it doesn’t diminish their passion for what they do; in fact, their belief in something bigger only fuels their desire to do it better, because working for God is a much larger purpose than working for the world. This is evident as we wait in line to talk to assistant coach Rocky Seto, as reporters ask him technical questions about “target zones” and things that sound as foreign to me as chemistry. It’s obvious he enjoys talking about these things; after all, it’s what he does for a living. But something that gets him going more is who he is as a person. Our turn comes, and we explain to him that we are from a Christian sports magazine, and he smiles and puts his hand on my shoulder. “Do you love the Lord? Do you love Jesus?” I smile and nod. “What about your camera guy?” he says, putting his hand on Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron smiles and nods, too. Seto has a friendliness and fervor about him that makes you immediately trust him. If we were sitting in a café, I would probably feel comfortable enough to share my deepest struggles with him if he asked. I ask him about what it’s like to be on a team that, to me, demonstrates a faith like the 2006 Indianapolis Colts team that won the Super Bowl under coach Tony Dungy. “Think about how the Lord has positioned the spokespeople on our team,” he says. “Russell Wilson loves the Lord; Russell Okung loves the Lord; there are coaches who are on fire for Jesus. It’s tremendously encouraging… “These brothers love the Lord, and ultimately living for Christ is more important than anything else. The Bible says that Jesus gives us every spiritual blessing. Jesus gives us every spiritual blessing. Think about that. Better than the Super Bowl. Any championship. Any fame. Any acclaim.” I realize Seto and I are learning about some of the same concepts in life, and it suddenly begins to feel much less like an interview and more like a conversation. These are the interviews I enjoy the most. 48 SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 “John Piper or someone said that enjoying Jesus as the greatest treasure of our lives is worship,” he continued. “Just enjoy it! What else do you need?” he laughs, throwing his hands in the air. “That’s acknowledging Him that Jesus is a greater reality than what we actually have in this life. Enjoy Jesus as the greatest treasure of your life, and we will act accordingly if we really believe that.” IN TRIALS... As we approach safety Chris Maragos, I couldn’t help but think about how the previous two interviews represented the same theme. Gresham enjoyed Christ in the way God was using him to carry out His purposes; and Seto spoke about being given every spiritual blessing and enjoying Christ on a day-to-day basis, for His mercies are new every morning. Fittingly, Maragos started talking to us about another way to enjoy God, a message less prevalent as they stand on the brink of winning a Super Bowl—through our trials. If anyone can preach on this in the context of football, how- Jim McIsaac things. There is a person, rhyme, and reason for everything, and God is in control of all those things, and you just have to trust that.” IN FOOTBALL... It’s interesting that Seto just happened to be reading from the book of Acts in his devotion that morning—the passage about people worshiping Barnabas and Paul instead of Christ. The irony is unparalleled, as much of Seahawk Nation will do the same for their team, and especially stars like Russell Wilson and Russell Okung. But it’s in Wilson and Okung’s mindsets that place football in its proper perspective, which, fitting the Whether you are reporting or a football player, we are all privileged to be where we are and to be able to give our gifts back to God. It’s amazing. same theme, allows them to enjoy God more because their priorities are not skewed. These were our last two interviews. “Faith has brought me a long way,” Wilson says. “God has me here for a very particular reason, just to be here in front of all these people and go against the odds. That’s all God. That’s not me. But, in terms of facing adversity, I see adversity as opportunity. That’s the way I look about it, whether it’s a game or in life. It’s an opportunity to overcome.” And that’s exactly the way Okung sees football, too—as an opportunity. If he, as a player, can view football as merely a game and an opportunity, he hopes others can do the same—that it will not be worshiped, that they will not be worshiped, but football will rather be enjoyed as a gift from God and used to direct others’ attention toward something deeper, just as Paul and Barnabas did. “What better chance do we have out here to show the world that we have been given a platform?” he says seriously and quietly. “Doesn’t matter what you do. Whether you are reporting or a football player, we are all privileged to be where we are and to be able to give our gifts back to God. It’s amazing. That’s what our jobs are as believers—to use our gifts because there is a need for them to give them back to this world and give them back to the people… “When you look at Jesus and His life, He just walked and loved and served people. He said, ‘The greatest among you is a servant.’ We have been given these talents and these gifts to serve the community for it to be better. Jesus saves, and Jesus saves through his people.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine. ever, it’s Maragos. He wasn’t recruited out of high school; he wasn’t on scholarship at Western Michigan; he was a walk-on when he transferred to Wisconsin; he switched positions and was cut three times before he got into the league; and now, here he stands at Media Day of Super Bowl XLVIII as a player who has been in the league for four years. “Those trials produced perseverance, and character is what you’re seeing today,” he said. “You’re seeing what God has been able to accomplish and what He has been able to do to mold and shape my character through those trials. I think of James 1:2-4, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ “When you look at that, it sounds so backwards. You think about joy. Well, what is joy? Joy is something internal; it’s not external. Anytime you are going through a trial, that’s an external thing. If you consider it pure joy then, when you are going through those hard times, you consider it joy because you know the end result is that God will produce and mold and shape you into something that is way better than you could ever think about if you didn’t go through those SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 49 BY STEPHEN COPELAND ANOTHER ANGLE firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow @steve_copeland OPINION A city's whisper N ew York City has a way of reminding you of the vast immensity of this world. I had never been to New York City, not until this week for Super Bowl XLVIII festivities. The closest I’d been before this week was a connecting flight at La Guardia this past fall, but the man giving me an aerial tour in the seat behind me could tell my brain got lost somewhere in the Hudson River below. For an Indiana kid who grew up with a cornfield in his back yard, NYC was a lot to handle. Before then, my perception of NYC existed in musical productions: taking down Pulitzer and Hearst in Newsies; Daddy Warbucks singing “NYC” in Annie; that snapping-finger gang in West Side Story, a scene that would forever make me believe I was tough enough to be in a gang. But NYC always seemed to be just that—a fantasy, something I saw through a plane window, on a television screen, or imagined while belting “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” in the shower… you know, like normal guys do. On Monday, however, I stepped outside the bus station on 42nd street and was hit in the face with a crippling arctic wind. I looked left, looked right, pulled out the map on my iPhone, looked left again, looked right again, heard the honks of the taxi cabs and havoc of city traffic, and stood wide-eyed as New Yorkers bumped by me with their coffees and briefcases on their way to work. I could finally somewhat tangibly comprehend the magnitude of this city I had always fantasized about. We tried to find Times Square to pick up our Super Bowl credentials but ended up in an alley. We wondered if Times Square was a hoax, then decided we were just ignorant. Eventually, we found it, and the buildings pierced into the sky as an array of moving advertisements made my distracted eyes rattle in their cages. I couldn’t help but think about how big New York City was, and how small I felt. I like moments like these—times when you realize how small you are. Because I think a life without transcendence only leads to misery. The most stressed and anxious people I know are those who believe it’s all up to them, who are consumed in their to-do lists and solving every problem that comes their way. And I confess, much of the time, I live like this. And maybe depression thrives from this, in the lie it’s all up to us, in the lie we are bigger than we actually are. If there is nothing that transcends, then on whom do we depend on? Ourselves. This transcendence, I think, takes place on all levels—in the depths of who we are, and in crafts we perfect. When we attended Super Bowl Media Day at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Tuesday, it was apparent many of the Seattle Seahawks believed that sports were merely an avenue for something else to transcend. In one of my favorite interviews from that day, Seahawks defensive passing game coordinator Rocky Seto said the following: “Ultimately, we like to use this platform of the Super Bowl to tell people that Jesus is the greatest treasure that you could ever hope to have…and He’s free! He’s free. Everyone would like to be on a Super Bowl team, but that lasts for a moment, and it’s over. I can’t remember who won a Super Bowl three years ago. I’d have to think really hard. But Jesus never changes.” For many guys on the Seahawks, like quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, safety Chris Maragos, and long snapper Clint Gresham, this was the theme to not only their profession but also their entire being: transcendence. Sure, they want to win the Super Bowl—more than anything. But if this is where the world begins and ends, on the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, then it’s an awfully small world. There’s a freedom in feeling small in a big world, but bondage in feeling big in a small world. This is counter-cultural, but it is true. As the week unfolded, this theme continued. We left New York City on Wednesday and stayed with one of my best friends in Philadelphia that evening. That night, we attended an event through “The Veritas Forum” at the University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium, a building I can only describe as transcending itself, its very gothic architecture capturing your soul and stretching it into the spiritual, with its 11,000-pipe organ and a ceiling so high it’d have to be cleaned by an eagle with a can of Pledge. One of the professors on the three-person panel was a concert pianist named Mia Chung. She has performed in concert halls around the world and has been widely praised throughout the media, including The New York Times. If that’s not impressive enough for you, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, received a master’s degree from Yale, and obtained a doctorate from Julliard. Chung talked about how music has the ability to extend deeper than sound. It’s an opportunity for her, being created in the image of God, to relate to the Creator in her own creation of music. She hopes her music is a mere reflection, a droplet of heaven perhaps, that gives the listener a taste of something supernatural we all foundationally long for. Isn’t this what music is? Isn’t this what sports are? They are a mere reflection of something transcending, propelling us into the mystery of wonder, whether it’s Stephen Copeland hope or joy or pain, a city whisperis a writer at Sports ing to its people to experience its Spectrum. Follow magnitude. him on Twitter And in this whisper, I find a call @steve_copeland. for my life to reflect the same. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2014 Stephen Copeland / Sports Spectrum 51 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 womenâ€™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.