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As Heard on Sports Spectrum Radio

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RETIRED MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ANNOUNCER

El'nie Halt'Well On what important message he wants his fans to remember • There is nothing you can do that will bring you more benefit and joy and more peace than a complete surrender to Jesus. Tum your whole life over to Him, and let Him be in charge. And then follow His precepts and love Him. Then love your neighbor as yourself. I think that's No. 1 in our life. And I think if we do that, the other things will fall into place. PUNTER. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

PITCHER. ATLANTA BRAVES

Huntel' Snaith On the difficulty of living as a Christian in the NFL • Well, people think it's a lot harder. One thing I've come upon is the reality that life is life, and

John Snaoltz On an offthe-field f>roject that 9 has his attention il •I really believe God has put on ~ my heart to be a part of the g Christian school [Smaltz and ~ others have been spearheading ~ the construction of a new Christian school in Fulton County in Georgia] and to change a lot of things that are going on in my community. That's what I've done the last l lj2 years. I've put a lot of time and effort into the future of this school. This could be something that outlives my lifetime and impacts others. I've been willing to defend Cljristian education and fight for it more than ever.

there are opportunities for sin in every realm. I think, sure, there are things available to us in the NFL. Maybe they're not available to other people, and money is the root of all kinds of evil, as it says in the Bible. I think you have to be grounded in the Word, you have to be discipled. You have to be a person who is under author-

FROM THE EDITOR

Inside Scoop As a kid growing up on sports, I was hooked on SPORT magazine. Every month I would count the days until it would come in our mailbox, and I could get up close and personal with my favorite sports heroes. My walls were covered with the great color photos SPORT provided. Each year I would enter the $5,000 SPORT Quiz. I eagerly read the stories of Pete Rose or Oscar Robertson or Leroy Kelly. In fact, I still have many of those prized magazines. But, alas, SPORT magazine is no more. One day its owners gave in to the pressures of competing with Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. It was sad to see an old friend go. We hope you as a Sports Spectrum reader have a similar warm spot in your heart for this magazine. Maybe we've created that same got-to-have-it feeling because you like our photos or favor our positive approach or simply savor knowing who the top Christians are in the world of sports. If so, we ask you to help us. We sure don't want to go the way of SPORT magazine. While other magazines such as 51, ESPN the magazine, and The Sporting News keep their subscriber base strong through heavy-duty marketing campaigns, Sports Spectrum simply cannot afford to do that. We rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations. That's why we need your help. We need YOU to get the word out about Sports Spectrum. To help us maintain a strong base of subscribers, we need you to tell others about our unique approach to sports. And we've made it easy for you to do that. We've put some cards between pages 24 and 25. Tear off those cards and give them to people who you think would like to receive Sports Spectrum. Tell each person to fill out the card and send it in. We'll send each friend who sends us a card a risk-free trial copy. Help us make sure we don't become just a fond memory like SPORT magazine. Dave Branon managing editor ssmag@sport.org

ity, spiritually. Or else you're going to do what it says in the Old Testament-they sought their own desires. That's what you see happening, even with

some Christian guys. I think it's important for guys to be accountable. If you're under the lordship of Jesus Christ, then I don't think it's too terribly hard.

S peak Up! So, what did you think of the article on David Carr? Are you glad we covered Arena football? Is there something you thought we should have covered but didn't? We want you to tell us. If you have a comment about Sports Spectrum magazine, e-mail us a note at ssmag@sport.org. Or if you prefer, send your comment to SS Letters, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.

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Running For Help

B

The more yards Shaun Alexander racks up for the Seattle Seahawks, the better off are the people he seeks to help

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1-800-283-8333 •Also for change of address or other corrections Sports Spectrum Radio station info go to www,soort,org or call 616-974-2210 Straight Trax tapes, Back issues orders, Discount bulk issues Phone: 1-800-766-7221 General correspondence, Letter to the Editor, or Writer's Quecy (no unsolicited manuscripts, please) Mail: Managing Editor, PO Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566 E-mail: ssmag@sport.org Fax: 1-616-957-5741 Permissions, Reprints Contact: Sports Spectrum permissions Fax: 1-616-957-5741 E-mail: ssmag@sport. org Volume 17, Number 1 January-February 2003 SPORTS SPECTRUM MAGAZINE A DISCOVERY HOUSE PUBLICATION AFFILIATED WITH RBC MINISTRIES MANAGING EOITOR Dave Branon ART DIRECTOR Steve Gier GRAPHIC ARTIST Laurie Nelson ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS Julie Richardson, Debbie Miller

BY GAIL w ooD

12 18 22

Cool Hand Luke

BY JEANNE HALSEY

Oregon's sharp-shooting guard Luke Ridnour harkens back to Pete Maravich in hard work, smooth ball-handling skills, and a drive to keep getting better

What Drives David Carr?

BY RicK wEBER

David Carr is the man of the hour in Houston as he tries to bring the Texans to respectability, and he does so in a refreshing way

Heart of the Hoosiers

w iTH DEAN JAcKsoN

It's a whole new ballgame in Hoosier-land with Mike Davis at the helm, but it's not always been easy for the man who followed the General

Ready for Prime Time

BY MATTH Ew PlcKuT

2G

ADVISORS Michelle Akers, former US soccer star; Tim Cash, Unlimited Potential, Inc. Clark Kellogg, TV analyst, CBS college basketball Vince Nauss, executive director, Baseball Chapel Kyle Rote Jr., Athletic Resource Management Alice Simpson, chaplain, Cleveland Rockers Bruce Smith, Hockey Ministries International Cris Stevens, LPGA Bible studies leader Chuck Swirsky, Play-by-play, Toronto Raptors Claude Terry, director, Pro Basketball Fellowship COVER PHOTOS:

Arena Football marches into prime time this season with a new schedule and a new TV package. What is this thing all about?

Power Up! pull-out devotional. This issue's guest writers are former Kentucky hoopster Cameron Mills and former University of Virginia tennis player Christie Pettit.

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SPORTS SPECTRUM is produced 6 times a year by Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, Ml 49501-3566, which is affiliated with RBC Ministries, a nondenominational Christian organization whose purpose is to lead people of all nations to personal faith in Jesus Christ and to growth in His likeness by teaching principles from the Bible. ~rinted in USA. Copyright© 2002 by Discovery House Publishers. Bible quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken 1 from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL o VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978,1984, : International Bible Society. Used by permission ol o Zondeovan Bible Publishers. : SUBSCRIBER NOTICE: : From time to time we allow companies to mail 1 you information on quality resources. To decline ' these mailings, simply write or E-mail ss with 1 this message: "No offers."

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Lee•d Stories Commentary on chapels and the NHL BY VICTOR LEE

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The Swirsk One-on-one with Kevin Ollie BY CHUCK SWIRSKY

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Champions Jamie Thomas, Becky Conzelman, Dwayne Zinger

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Pro and Con: ..Our society puts too much emphasis on the Super Bowl .. BY TED KLUCK AND ALLEN PALMERI

16 The Big Picture

David Carr

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Legends with Brian Sipe

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Straight Talk with Avery Johnson

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Lee 'd Stories ~ Bq Victor Lee --------------------------------------

llldde News aDd 'Views..,_ tho WNW of Spoda

Culture Shock Chapels and the NHL • The National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association are as American as Terry Bradshaw, Joe DiMaggio, and Larry Bird. Homegrown and sometimes downright down-home in their appeal, these leagues embrace matters of faith, rarely flinching when their players lift up the name of Jesus Christ or make other religious expressions. The National Hockey League is an import from another culture, hockey being a European and Canadian mainstay that is now being embraced in such Southern US cities as Dallas, Raleigh, Nashville, and Atlanta. Faith is a quiet factor or a non-factor on most teams. Hockey players don't hold hands and sing "Kum ba yah." The NFL, MLB, and the NBA tacitly or literally endorse the Christian chaplain programs in their leagues, with every team being served. The spiritual ice has melted slowly in the NHL, but it is softening. Approximately onethird of the teams have chapel programs. "We've gained a lot of credibility," says Hockey Ministries International's (HMI) Les Burleson, chaplain for the 2002 Stanley Cup finalist Carolina Hurricanes. "There are not the closed doors that there were in the past." The difference is a study in culture, an education in how to minister to people in the name and power of Jesus Christ. This is not a story about how the NHL is too slow to catch on or doesn't care about its players-that's not the case at all. We have here a textbook case of cross-cultural missions. This is Middle America versus Eastern European culture. This is cultural Christianity-the toocomfortable-to-be-vibrant famil-

4

A. Not unusual. We've grown accustomed to seeing teams such as the New England Patriots and New York Jets join in prayer after an NFL game. It's not quite the same in the National Hockey League.

iarity with Jesus-versus minimal spiritual orientation. "A very small portion of the NHL population-though it's growingis from the US," says Canadian-born 16-year veteran Stu Grimson. "The US largely professes Christianity. That is not the case in Canada and Europe. We're about 60 percent Canadian, 25 percent European, so the NHL is comprised of guys who don't have much of a reference point for Christianity. Not to say that makes them averse to it, but initially they might have a difficult time accommodating that. That is changing, however, and the chapel program is largely behind it." When I was a chaplain for a NASCAR racing team, I could walk around the race shop all day, poking my head under the hoods of cars, commenting on a new paint job or the next race. It was "ministry by hanging around," a sort of intentional unintentionality that positioned me to minister when the occasion arose-and it did daily. It is like that in many NFL, NBA, and MLB locker rooms, but try that in the NHL and you may get cross-checked into the parking lot. Not because they hate you, but because God isn't part of the Canadian and European culture in

SPORTS SPECTRU M - JA NUAR Y·FEBRUA RY 2003

the comfortable, relational way that He is in, say, Atlanta. "There are a lot of guys [visiting) in the locker rooms [in other leagues) with a sense of entitlement, and that just won't work in the NHL," Burleson says. "But the great thing about the NHL environment is that everybody's pretty honest; they don't sugarcoat anything." If they want you, they say so. If they don't want you, they say so. But at the core of their being, NHL owners, league officials, executives, and coaches care about people, so they care about what their players want. In the summer of 2000, the NHL general managers gave Grimson and fellow player Kevin Hal\er-both representing Hockey Ministries International-program time at their annual meeting. "They allowed us to speak to each and every GM, and to explain this was a player-driven interest," Grimson says. "And they essentially said over the course of that summer and fall that HMI would have the league's blessing. Where players come forward on their respective teams desiring a chapel program, they are pleased to accommodate. As we see more believers graduate into the NHL

and come to faith [in Christ] in the NHL, you1l see more participation. "I would say things have changed quite dramatically over the course of my career," says Grimson. "There was a real aversion to things of a spiritual nature. This is certainly a sport that has adopted a more open mind where Christian athletes are concerned." The NHL-which still has no formal position on the presence of a chaplaincy program-is not only responding to the desires of its players but is also recognizing the on-ice effect of off-ice counsel. "A lot of (GMs and executives] are looking at it from a player development perspective," Burleson says. "I talked to one GM recently who said that they now try to recruit the total package. They want someone who is a well-developed individual off the ice, and that's part of what the chapel program does." Make no mistake: Chaplaincy is becoming more accepted and effective in the NHL because HMI did it right. Their experience illustrates several truths about how to minister cross-culturally. A person who wants to reach out to people from another culture must ... ~

Recognize cultural differences.

Mention the "Romans Road" to most Canadians and Europeans, and they1l ask how was your vacation in Italy. Their culture doesn't know the Christian lingo and doesn't think like Christians do. The need for Christ is not virtually assumed in their culture as it is in some areas of the US. To minister to a people-whether overseas or just in another part of the country or city-study their culture and adapt your methods accordingly. Remember, you can constantly change the package, but not the

contents. ~ Be patient. Sure, HMI would have liked to see this kind of progress 20 years ago. But through 26 years they have worked patiently,

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and carefully, trusting that God would honor their efforts. If they had approached the NHL locker room with the "sense of entitlement" Burleson spoke of in other leagues, HMI would likely be a defunct ministry. .,.. Live by the guidelines provided. This reflects Christ and builds credibility. Have integrity. Be who you say you are. Do what you say you're going to do-and what you are told to do. .,.. Serve first, minister second. Most would prefer a chance to openly and in detail explain the gospel, but it might be better to spend a lot of time serving in other ways before that opportunity is earned. HMI's experience illustrates not only cross-cultural ministry principles but also chaplaincy ministry principles. Chaplaincy is a hot issue at every level of sports today, from the pros through college to youth leagues. .,.. Maintain pure motives. The higher the level of competition, the easier the temptation to "minister" for the wrong reasons-to hang with the big boys in professional sports, for example. As one chaplain friend explained to me a few years ago, "If I put an ad in the paper saying, 'Chaplain needed for (fill in your favorite pro team); I'd have hundreds of people calling to help. But what if I put in an ad saying, 'Someone needed to mentor a dozen men"'? .,.. Be prepared. Do your homework about what ministries exist, if any, in the environment in which you want to minister. What league rules, if any, exist. Who has done similar ministry successfully, and how? What works when trying to reach out to athletes? Hockey Ministries International has clearly shown the right motive and right method in reaching the NHL. It served the league and its players and earned credibility, and now HMI is making both a temporal and an eternal impact.

Longtime sportswriter Victor Lee lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. SPORTS SP ECTRUM'S " HOT

C O RNE R ~

The Swirsk Goes One-on-One with Kevin Ollie After finishing his 4-year career at the University of Connecticut, Kevin Ollie finetuned his skills wit h t he CBA Connecticut Pride. He was first signed to an NBA contract by the Da llas Maver icks dur ing the 1997-98 season. He has since playe d for the Or lando Magic, the Sacramento Kings, the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pa cers, and this year began with the Milwaukee Bucks. Swirsk: Kevin, you've been with several NBA teams and have faced midseason trades. What goes through your mind when you have to relocate like that? Ollie: I just believe the Lord and that He's gonna take me to the place I need to go. He works in mysterious ways, and it's not our job to try to sit back and pick what God is going to do next. We just have to trust Him and walk in faith and believe that He's going to give us the ability to go through all things. You know He will. You've just got to be submitted to Him. That's what I'm doing in life. It says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" And I think that's perfect.

19. Tell us how that took place. Ollie: The Bulls were in Miami. We had a game against the Heat, and some of the guys knew they were going to be traded, like Ron Artest and Brad Miller. They were told before the game not to play. I didn't know at that point that I was in the deal, but I did play 40 minutes that night. After the game, some reporters came up to me and said, "I heard that you are possibly in a trade." Then my agent called before I got on the plane and notified me that a trade was pending. The other guys knew before the game, but I played in the game because I was a contingent that wasn't a factor in the trade.

Swirsk: So the Bulls coach or GM didn't meet you face-to-face and say, "You've been traded." CHUCK SWIRSKY Ollie: No, I found out after the talked with Milwaukee trade happened from my agent. Bucks guard Kevin Then I later talked with Bulls GM Ollie on Sports Jerry Krause. Spectrum Radio. You can hear Sports . . Spectrum on Saturdays SWll'sk: Kevm, you are v~ry well across the United respected by your peers m the NBA. States at noon Eastern You've been in the league now for 6 time. Call616-974-2210 years and you can have an influto locate an SS station ence on some of the younger playin your area, or go to ers, not only as a professional baswww.rbc.neVstations. ketball player but also a Christian. Chuck is the play-by- Do you think that's one reason God play voice of the puts you where He does? Toronto Raptors. Ollie: Exactly! God puts you in posiSwirsk: What is toughest about tions where people can feed off your being traded? spirit. The Lord can move through Ollie: Well, trying to get acclimated to me and give the younger player an example a new system and a new environment, that's that can move them closer to Christ, for He's not easy. Also, you get into a comfort zone in the only way. The Bible says, "Jesus is the one place, and it is difficult to change. way, the truth, and the life and no one comes Especially because I have a wife and two small children (Kevin and Stephanie's children: Jalen to the Father but through Him." We've got to and Cheyenne), it gets difficult for them. But trust in Him, and sometimes that comes with a relationship. I think we need to strengthen they realize the job at hand and that someour relationship with the Lord. times we make changes in the NBA. I just have to stay obedient to God and whatever He wants of my life. I'm just going to keep following His example and let Him guide me, and He's going to take me to the right places. I just have to be obedient and trust Him. Swirsk: Talk about what happens when you get traded. For instance, last year you were traded to Indiana from Chicago on February

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11-~\

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CHAMPIONS: R New Generation of Winners

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JAMIE THOMAS

One Faithful ~eap • What would you consider a real leap of faith? For pro skateboarder Jamie Thomas, skating off a two-story-high flight of stairs has been a public leap of faith. This 28-year-old skating phenomenon has been skating professionally for 9 years, and the "Leap of Faith" has been one of his most popular jumps-and, as he admits, one of the scariest he has ever attempted. The name of the jump is about more than being a daredevil, though. The "Leap of Faith" is just another way that this committed Christian and

skating star is using his skating to BECIC:Y share his faith with the world. CONZELMAN Thomas has directed and edited six skating videos. With numerous endorsements from popular companies such as Zero and Circa, Jamie is well known in the skating • Becky Conzelman didn't discommunity. He has built quite a cover her passion for cycling until following of fans and was recently she was 26 years old. featured on the cover of Thrasher, She began her athletic career Skateboader, and Transworld Skatewith swimming and soccer, but boarding magazines. Conzelman has found her true Called the most deterathletic fulfillment and mined person involved in success in the cycling skateboarding today, world. As she moved Jamie is one of the best from regional to skaters in the world. national competition, Not only is Jamie a she eventually earned committed skater, but the opportunity to comhe is also committed in pete for the US at a World other areas of his life as well. Cup event in China last August. As a result of his commitment to ~ The demands of competition God, Jamie travels around the world ! and travel can be draining, but integrating his skating with mis- S Conzelman realizes that her faith sions work. For example, last sum- ~ can sustain her and help her to mer Jamie traveled to Ireland for a keep her cycling in perspective. Christian outreach with some mis- ~ She says that only when she takes sionaries who live there. i time out of her daily training rouAs the skating world raves tine to read and reflect on God's about Jamie's talent, he is using Word does she really get excited his ability on the skateboard to be about what she is doing. a witness to others. When asked if As Becky climbs in the cycling the Leap of Faith would ever be rankings, she notes that she is not conquered Jamie said that he did just racing to win each competinot know the answer to that question- she is also racing to inflution-but clearly his life reflects ence others for Christ, focusing that he has already made the faith especially on youth. leap that truly matters. Last year Becky began working - CHRISTIE PETTIT with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Annapolis, Maryland. ~ Grinding away. Jamie Thomas "My favorite part of youth ministry takes the high road to skateis taking a student out for ice boarding greatness.

AWorthu Ouest

LITERATURE

SPORTS MINISTRY • ll:ids Games- Have you heard that a

bunch of kids in Kathmandu, Nepal, have captured the World Water Bucket Championship? Or that thousands of kids in several countries around the world have heard the gospel

because they came out to play games? Or that this concept has already been tried in some cities in the United States? It's all part of a growing movement called Kids Gamesan effort to reach young people through games and other group activi ties. To find out mo re about how you can use Kids Games in your city, go to www.thekidsgames.com .

• Lasting Victol'y -(By Dale Cooper and Kevin Vande Streek)-Here's a look at sports

from the perspective of a successful smallcollege basketball coach. Kevin Vande Streek has led his Calvin College (MI) Knights to the NCAA Division III national championship, and he'd like to lead readers of his book to a closer walk with Christ. The book contains 50 meditations on biblical principles, with a gen-

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cream and talking with them about their life," she says, "helping them with the challenges they face and encouraging them in their faith. Faith in Jesus Christ has made an eternal difference in my life, and I hope to see that same difference in the lives of others." Conzelman's next big goal is to compete in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. But as she works toward this dream, she keeps a bigger perspective in mind. "I hope I " Train, Race, Trust. Becky's motto: "Train Hard, Race Hard, and Trust the Lord for the results."

MIKE GlADU • W'NW.vELOOAOME.COM

can make the most of opportunities along the way to encourage kids in their faith and in their lives. I also hope that my quest for Olympic gold will motivate young girls, or even older girls, to go for their dreams and maximize the talent God has given them." - CHRIST IE PETTIT

DWAYNE ZINGER

Impact Plauer • CRASH! !! The plexiglass shakes after yet another thunderous body check during a pro hockey game. The crowd goes crazy! A young boy's eyes are big with excitement as he absorbs the sights and sounds of his first hockey game. The atmosphere of a hockey arena is one of a kind- full of excitement, energy and electricity that few sports can rival. But who was that person who caused all the commotion moments earlier by slamming an opponent into the boards? It could have been Dwayne Zinger of the Washington Capitals organization. Zinger? Doesn't that name invoke thoughts of a speedy winger with a nose for the net or perhaps a talented playmaking center? Well, this Zinger is a rugged 6' 4", 230-pound defenseman. Signed by the Washington

erous helping of sports analogies thrown in. .,.. Publisher: Calvin College Alumni Assodation .,.. Web site: www.calvin.edu/alumni/library. • The Heart o f a Golfer- (By Wol(y Armstrong with Frank Martin)-Wally Armstrong never seems to run out of stuff to write when it comes to golf and faith. Another in a series of books he has written to incorporate his vast knowledge of the walk-around sport and his deep trust in Jesus Christ, this book goes a bit deeper

COURTESY: PORTlAND PIRATES/ SPORTS ACTlON PHOIOGRAPHY

.A. Awaiting the call. The Capitals like the size and the defense of Dwayne Zinger, and he went to Portland hopeful of an NHL call-up.

Capitals as a free agent in the offseason, Zinger is living out his dreams of playing professional hockey-currently for the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. Big deal. Isn't every pro hockey player "living out his dreams?" What makes Dwayne so special? Well, besides his hockey ability, it is his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. "I was at a church service when I was about 6 or 7," he says, "and I felt a little nudge on my heart to go forward. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and have lived for Him ever since." Aside from dreams of making it

than some of the earlier efforts. Spiced with plenty of stories about golf and lots of tips on improving your game, this book is also a grand collection of spiritual wisdom. Whether you have the heart of a golfer or not, you can benefit from this latest Wally Armstrong tome. .,.. Zondervan .,.. Web site: www.zondervan.com. • H ot Corner- If you wa nt your daily sports news from a different perspective, you need to visit the Sports Spectrum Web site

SPORTS SPECTRU M' S " HO T CORNER" GIVES YOU WEEKDAY NE WS AND COMM ENTARY. WEB SITE' htt p, f jw w w. sport.o r g

to the NHL, what motivates a pro hockey player? "Well for me, my motivation comes from Jesus Christ. It's so easy to get focused on performance and playing well that it can really stress a player out. By having Jesus as the center of my life, I can focus on Him. He is the One who gave me my ability, so all I can do is use it the best I can and for His glory." With the tools that God has given Zinger in the game of hockey, and with the heart he has for serving God, this native of Coronation, Alberta, is sure to be an impact player-on and off the ice. - DAVIN GULBRANSEN

Monday through Friday. Each day at about 11 a.m . Eastern time, our daily news and commentary page appears. Included in each day's reports are items such as Question of the Day, The Insider (a new Christian athlete each day), Where'd He Go? (update on a former athlete), Mini-memos, Sizzlers, and reports from action the day before. You can get Hot Corner delivered via e-mail. It's a little like getting Sports Spectrum every day. And hey, it's a lot of work! So please read it. .,.. Web site: www.sport.org< SPORTS SPECTRUM - JANUAR Y- FEBRUARY 2003

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r--------------------- -- --------------------------------------------------- -----------------------san NFL running back, Shaun Alexander runs to win. Runs to score touchdowns. You already knew that. But the Seatt le Seahawks tailback, who crashed through the Oakland Raiders defense for 266 yards in 200 I and scored an NFL-record five touchdowns in the first half agai nst Minnesota earlier this season, also runs for a less obvious reason-one you may not have heard about. He runs to help others. Two years ago, Alexander used some of the $3.8 million rookie signing bonus he received from the Seahawks to start the Shaun Alexander Family Foundation, which was set up to help families and young people who need a hand up. "I play to make a difference in their li ves," Alexander says of the people his foundat ion helps. "It's not just about football. It's also about helping others." In his hometown of Florence, Kentucky, which is just on the other side of the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he played college football, Alexander has established offices to help the needy. Next summer, Alexander plans to open another office in Seattle. Alexander's foundation assists families with a variety of needs. It helps them pay the rent and electric bills, buy school lunches, and even purchase school clothes. At Thanksgiving, the foundation del ivers turkey meals to homes. At Christmas, fami lies receive ham dinners, wrapped gifts, and a tree. Last Christmas, the group served nearly 300 meals, and 200 children received gifts. He's also started a college scholarship fund. "It's all about giving back," Alexander says. "A lot of people around me are asking me why am I doing this? And they're telling me I shouldn't be doing this, but you know what? You can't out-give God." Alexander understands what it's like being without. He and his brother, Dun路an, grew up in a single-parent home. But Alexander remembers that his mother, Carol, although her cupboards were never brimming, would help others who

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EXPLOSIVE RUNNING BACK

SHAUNALEXANDER OFTHE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS PICKS UP PEOPLE ASWELLAS HE PICKS UPYARDS BY GA IL WOOD

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----------------------------------, were without a meal or needed help in gelling clothes. "My mom was always givi ng and helping others," Alexander says. "That's where I learned about giving. So now that I'm so tremendous!y blessed, I wanted to do what my mom has always done." To do that, Alexander needed someone to run his foundation. He didn't have to look far. He chose Durran, who graduated from Notre Dame with a market ing degree. Durran left a job with Campbell's Soup as a territory manager to operate his brother's nonprofit organization that now employs four people. "Shaun and Dun路an are a great team," says their cousin Ben Brown, who also works in the foundat ion. "It's amazing what they've done. They've helped a lot of lives." The Alexander brothers work through established state and city government agencies, as well as local churches, pulling their name on the list of places to get help. Last year, the foundation gave out $22,000 to help 250 families in northern Kentucky and Alabama. Shaun does not know how much the foundation has spent th is year. "I don't want to count numbers... Alexander says. "My advisory people are tell ing me I shouldn' t do this, but I don't get into how much I' m giving. I just feel that if I' m supposed to give, I' II pray abou t it and I' II just let it ri p." But it's not just about money. The foundation also passes on a message of hope. "A lot of times when people come in to get money, we' ll share Bible verses with them," Brown says. "We also pray for them in the office." Brown also hands them a pamphlet about the foundation and about ShaUll Alexander's testimony. When Alexander first started thinking of playing in the NFL, he began planning on ways to help people. "In college he talked about helping people," Brown says. "It was one of those ministries he knew he wanted to do. It hasn' t just been about football ..6. Alexander the Great. Despite his

second straight 1,000-plus yard season, No. 37 has struggled to match his 2001 output of 1,318 yards.

SPORTS SPECT RUM COVER S All THE SPORT S. WEB SITEo h t tpo//www.o po rt. o r g

SPORTS SPEC TRUM - JANUAR Y- FEBRUARY 2003

9


RUN NI NG FOR HE L P

A lexa nder ~ Rag Time Band. For

A

Shaun, it's about the kids- including these little guys from an inner-city community center in Atlanta.

for Shaun. It's also always been about helping people." At first, Alexander considering building homes for needy families. But that was already being done. "My brother and I were thi nking we've got to do something to help people," Alexander says. "A friend of our family who played for the San Diego Chargers built houses for families who couldn't afford one. I thought, let's do something different. So we came up with the idea to help kids." Besides helping families pay the bills and put clothes on the kids, Alexander's foundation also helps send kids to Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camps. Alexander said the camps are a chance to help plant seeds of discretion. "When you' re young, it's ' How far is too far?' " Alexander says. "Because you don't know better. Let's say you' re

out with your friends, and they' re drinking. You say, ' I guess it's all right because they aren't drunk.' That's a lack of knowledge." Alexander said he accepted Jesus into his life when he was 10 at an Easter service. When he was 18, he memorized a Bible verse that he says helped shape his life. The verse is Psalms 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He wi ll give you the desires of your hear1." Alexander accompanies his autograph with that verse. "That's the first Scripture I ever memorized," Alexander says, "other than John 3:16 and 'Jesus wept' (John 11 :35). He's going to give you the desires of your heart. He's promised that." On the football field, Alexander wears No. 37, but not because of Psalm 37. At Boone County High School in northern Kentucky, his number was 44. But when he went to the University of Alabama, a linebacker already had that number, so Alexander opted for 37. "He cho e that because it was different," says Brown, who played defensive end with Shaun for the Boone County Rebels and later played at Morehead State Uni versity. Alexander made that number famous last year when he moved into the starting lineup after Ricky Watters got hurt. In his first three starts, Alexander, the 19th player picked in the 2000 draft, rushed for 266, 176, and 142 yards. He scored I0 touchdowns. Alexander's I,66 1 all-purpose yards for the season included the fourth-best single-game

) -· Shaun's Locker Digging a little deeper into Shaun Alexander's world )o)o-

BIG DAY: Shaun and Valerie Alexander were married on May 18, 2002. GOLDEN DOMER: Shaun's brother, Durran, played in the marching band at Notre Dame.

>- WEB SITE: The Shaun Alexander Family Foundation home page is found at http;//www.tidef~ns.com/saff/

>- STATS STUFF: Led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (14) in 2002. >- DAY TO REMEMBER: Shaun says the best day of his life was the day he led someone to faith in Jesus Christ.

>- LISTENING IN: Favorite musical performer: Kirk Franklin. )o-

RUMOR CENTRAL: Two words uttered by Shaun last summer sent a rumor

coursing through Seattle. When in Cincinnati to appear at the Billy Graham Crusades, Alexander was asked if he would consider joining Graham's ministry. He simply replied, "No comment." Many took that to mean he was ready to quit football for the ministry. Maybe later, Alexander said at the time, but for now he's still into football. >- TV TIME: Shaun hosted a Monday night sports news segment on a Seattle TV station during the season. It was called Shoun Alexander Live, and it aired on a Fox affiliate in Northwest Washi ngton. )o- BOBBLEHEAD: Want a Shaun Alexander bobblehead doll? Go to this Web site: www.collectandsaye.com/shaunaloffie.html 1 0

SPOR TS SP ECT RUM - JA NUA RY· FEBRU A RY 20 03

rushing performance in league history. That was the 266 yards against the Raiders. Although Alexander started just I2 of the 16 games, he fi nished with the fifthbest rushing season ever for a Seahawks nmning back with I,318 yards. Just like his unique running style, Alexander has never been the one to do something just because everyone else was doing it. "I' m always the oddball compared to everyone else," he says. "That's because I don't live by their rules. I go by God's rules." Alexander says the best day in his life was when he led someone to Christ, commenting that he realized the impact he had on that person's life. "I just thought it was way bigger than anything else I had ever clone before." For a guy who has achieved so much already at the age of 25, that's quite a statement. Yet he maintains that despite all the physical trappings of his NFL success, his best achievement is helping others. "A rich man thinks of himself as being rich," Alexander says. "Well, I just think of myself as being blessed. If I'm just blessed, then l' II go out and bless other people." Especially the children. "We just want to help kids," he says. "Most kids don't know that they're supposed to be something that's awesome in this world, or they don't believe they can be. I play to help them understand that they are special." Setting out to change kids' lives may seem to be too lofty a goal for a football player, but Alexander is not afraid to set high goals for himself. That's why he sat down before his senior year at Boone County High School and wrote down his goal of scoring 50 touchdowns. He scored 54 of them- good for sixth all-time in American high school football history. Then, while at the University of Alabama, he became the school's alltime leader in rushing yards (3,565), I00-yard games ( 15) and touchdowns (50). "I've always been a big dreamer," says Alexander. And now, because of his success on the football field, he' a big sharer.

Gail Wood is afreelmrce writer who lives i11 w cey, Washi11gto11. TO SUBSC RIBE: CAll 1 · 800 · 283 · 8333


Pro and Con

---------------

"ChRsocletypatstoo~&adl . . . . . . .

ontlt.e~BowL·

• This just in: Society places way too much importance on a million-and-a-half different things that don't matter in the least. Things like marketing, fast food, sitcoms, the size of your house, the brand name on your polo shirt and khakis, and the price on the brand-new, 4WD SUV sitting in the driveway that you will never once drive off the road. Sure these are things that may help us feel like bigshots in our churches or neighborhoods, but, like the Super Bowl, they have no eternal significance. This also just in: The Super Bowl is really, really fun. Sure it's a celebration of excess and America and capital-

• It is more than just a game, but does it have to be that much more? It is king of the major sports in terms of both popularity and profit, but does it have to act that way? It is football in a very successful package, but does it really need to sell all of that to us? That is what makes the NFL. It has a Super Bowl. The other major professional sports do not. It pushes the edge of bad entertainment year after year by marketing its championship game the way it does. Consider what develops in baseball, basketball, and hockey. A game is a game is a game- even those of the

Bowl highlight ism, and I'm not naive enough to think that videos for hours, they are doing anybeing taken to a thing with it besides higher place by the unmistakable voice trying to sell me the latest got-to-have-it of NFL Films guru John Facenda. This, car. But being the committed "see it also, is fun. through to the end" It is an excuse to kind of guy that I am, jump up and down in Freelance writer, the arms of my buddy I have found a way to L ansing, Michigan Jim, giggling and enjoy it anyway. And Contributor to if I want to watch a screaming like schoolESPN, The Magazine girls while watching 3-hour pregame documentary on the condi- "SURE IT'S A Tom Brady lead his tion of Kurt Warner's Patriots on their final pinky or listen to Lou CELEBRATION drive to Super Bowl OF EXCESS glory. Sound like fun? Rawls sing and dance a tribute to the '72 It was. AND Dolphins, I am going So if you don't CAPITALISM mind, I'm having a to do so and enjoy ...BUT I myself in the process. little trouble hearing In my house, the HAVE FOUND Lou Rawls, and in 3 Super Bowl is an hours Marv Levy is AWAY TO excuse for my mom to going to be reading ENJOY IT make football-shaped a poem he wrote Jello jigglers and all ANYWAY." about the West Coast manner of rich, tasty offense. But feel free foods that are unhealthful but to loosen your tie, hide the cell that are also really, really fun. phone, and join me. It should It is an excuse to watch Super be fun.

championship variety. college bands. You had them for Super Can the Super Bowl as Bowls I and II. we know it manage to Reverse the trend remember what it that started in III, once was? when Anita Bryant Neither basketball sang the national nor hockey has a Super anthem. Game. Each can offer Whatever hapthe general public a pened to the Pledge Game 7, and the game itself is what the fans Freelance writer, of Allegiance? It was tend to enjoy. Baseball Raytown, Missouri there for Super Bowls has a World Series, but Former editor, Sharing III, IV and VII. Bring the Victory magazine its ultimate game has a that back too. None of the first natural buildup. The "NONE OF five Super Bowls had deciding contest itself, THE FIRST a producer for its not some crazy Super halftime show. Jim Game, is what we like. FIVE SUPER The Super Bowl is BOWLS HAD A Skinner in VI was something else. It is the first. Let's go back to the old way. named after a synthet- HALFTIME None of the first ic rubber ball that was SHOW immensely popular in three Super Bowls PRODUCER." featured an icon of 1965. The Super Ball pop culture in its halftime show. had its day, and all indications Carol Channing in IV was the are that the Super Bowl is having its day too, but it is not first. Let U2 be the last. healthy for a society to continue We interrupt this dream to to attach all of this to one game. bring you an announcement. All hail the Super Bowl! The The pregame ceremonies are way out of line. Bring back the party must go on.

TED J{LUCJ{

PHOTO COURTESY: TED Kl UCK

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ALLEN PALMERI

PHOTO COURTESY: FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLETES

SPORTS SPECTRUM - JANUAR Y-FEB RUARY 2003

1 1


r- ----- ------- ---- --- ----- ----- --------------- --- -- ------ ------ -- ---- ---- ------------- --- --- ----- ----- ---------- â&#x20AC;˘

IT TAKES A CALM

There's already an urban legend

floati ng around concerning this 21-year-old basketball star. It seems that while he was still

DEMEANOR AND

in middle school, he would go over to the high school gym to shoot baskets, trying to get a

LOTS OFTALENT

can of Coke out of the older kids by maki ng NBA-range three-pointers. No takers. They'd seen Luke shoot before.

TO HELP GUIDE couâ&#x20AC;˘resv:u"v'"SITY OFOAEGON

A TEAM TO

Unsatisfied and still looking for a chal-

lenge, he offered to shoot the three-pointers left-handed. They bit on the offer. Big mistake. Free Cokes!

PROMINENCE,

BUT THAT'S WHAT

That was the last time anyone took Luke Ridnour up on his offer.

A couple of years later, as a high school freshman Ridnour not only played on the varsity squad but was also named to the All-State team. His high school team,

LUKE RIDNOUR

the Blaine Borderi tes (haili ng from an American-Canadian border town, thus the nickname) traveled to Southern California for a holiday exhibition tournament. During a game at that tournament, Luke broke his right ann- his shooting

HAS DONE

arm-but still finished the game. Wearing a cast, he played the remainder of the tournament-not to mention all the regular-season games-hardly using his

FOR THE

immobile right arm. Passing, dribbling, defending, cast and all, he sti ll helped his team win. He still ran the show.

OREGON DUCKS

During one of those "handicapped" games, Luke found himself with the ball as the clock was running down, and his teammates were well guarded. The other team left him open- and he had nowhere to pass. Confidently, he hoisted a left-handed

BY JEAN N E HALSEY

three-point attempt. As the buzzer sounded, it ripped through the net. Luke's hours of practice, even shooting left-handed "just in case," continued to pay off. These and many other stories that circulate around the little northwestern

1 2

SPORTS SPECTRUM - JANUARY-FE BRUARY 2003

PHOTO BY EL.SA I GETTY llo!AGES


COOL HAND LUkE

--- ---------- - --- --- -------- - ---- -- - ------- -------- - ------ - --------- --- - - - - ---- - -------------- ---------- --- --- - - - ~ ~

Washington town of Blaine are the beginnings of "the legend of Luke," a highly acclaimed, much-honored AllAmerican junior point guard for the Uni versity of Oregon. Take th is unassuming son of a small-town high school basketball coach, put him in an environment where character is valued and sportsmanship and skill are encouraged, add

• Some people thought luke Ridnour's father, the coach, pushed him too hard. In reality, the opposite was true. luke's parents had to drag him from the basketball court at home. Sometimes they had to say, " No, the basketball cannot come inside the church with you!" look back through photos of former Blaine High School teams, and you'll see the same little ballboy sitting cross-legged with a basketball on his lap in every picture. That's where he wanted to be. Last season, Ernie Kent often said his Oregon Ducks were " reaching beyond their potential." That was nothing new for Ridnour. During summer vacation, luke could be seen show-dribbling his basketball to school- 4 miles along graveled country roads- so he could shoot baskets in the high school gym. Hour after hour, he'd play out fantasy scenarios that later came A Team West. Luke Ridnour's work habits true: "Here is Ridnour at the freeearned him a shot on throw line, last minute of the state championship." Luke put in the the McDonald's High School All-American extra time- shooting, bouncing West team. Ridnour's passes off the wall, spinning, fakWest defeated the ing all afternoon- then hitting the East 146·120 on lights, locking up, and dribbling 4 March 29, 2000. miles back home, practically dancing with the basketball. If anyone was pushing luke Ridnour toward greatness, it was the youngster himself. -JEAN NE HALSEY

a measure of natural ability and a tenacious work-ethic, and you' ll see how a potential NBA player is made. But there's more to Luke Ridnour than just that. "I was about 5 years old when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior," says Luke. "Everything I do, I give it all back to Him. God has blessed me with these gifts and skills. He is at the head of my list." 1 4

SPORTS SPEC TRU M • JANUARY -FEBRUARY 2003

It's a family thing. Rob and Muriel Ridnour, plus their children Heather and Luke are not afraid to let people know about their faith. As a youngster, Luke adopted the Bible verse, "I can do all things through Jesus Christ" (Philippians 4: 13) as his personal motto, both on and off the basketball court. His personal hero has always been "Pistol Pete" Maravich. From childhood on, he would emulate the player some call "the greatest college basketball star ever" by carrying a basketball and dribbli ng at every opport unity-in school, at movies. That was something Pete did as a kid, but Luke did the Pistol one better. He even took his basketball to church! He also carried a favorite key-chain inscribed with this motto: " /11 Jesus' Name I Play. " • After his highly successful career playing for his dad at Blai ne High School, Ridnour took his show on the road to Eugene, Oregon. There the two-time Oregon Player of the Year proved he was ready for big-time college hoops. He was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. But he wasn' t satisfied. The team finished 14- 14 on the season after a I0-1 start. That's when he orchestrated some rather unort hodox off-season training with his teammates. Luke came up with an idea. Instead of going home for the summer break, Luke persuaded several of his teammates-notably Fred Jones (now with the Indiana Pacers) and Luke Jackson- to remain at the school. Thei r plan was to sneak into the famous McArthur Court Gymnasi um (the oldest acti ve NCAA gy mnasium, famous for being "unfriend ly" to visiting teams) fo r "unauthorized" access, practicing and worki ng out, often late into the night. When the team reassembled for Coach Ernie Kent in the fall, he was astonished to see significant improvement in his team, and he noticed their tight camaraderie. He largely credits it to the hard work and encouragement of the skinny kid from Blai ne. Luke's father, Rob, laughs about the small "indiscretion" of his son during .,._ Piling up the points. While in high school, Luke Ridnour averaged 23 points a game and was a three-time Player of the Year in Washington.

the summer. "Well, there was a precedent: Luke had his own key to the gym back at Blaine High School!" For his part, Coach Kent isn't worried about Luke turning into a delinquent. "When we are out recruiting," Kent says, "the mai n thing we look for is character. After that, we check out their basketball skills. There are lots of kids with great basketball skills out there, but we know that characterboth on and off the court-is what will make our team succeed. And that's ' Rid'-a young man with character, humili ty, and skill." It's no wonder that character is important at Oregon. That starts at the top with Kent, hi mself a Christian, who strives to encourage his young men to be more than basketball players. Although the practice is sometimes frowned upon in state-sponsored schools and often monitored by the ACLU, the Oregon Ducks conduct a vol untary pregame chapel. They also hold courtside prayer huddles before and after their games, and Coach Kent sets high standards of conduct for the guys who wear the green and yellow. Even in matters of conduct, Coach


1______________ __ _________________ ____________ :~~:::~:~~:-----------------------------------------------------------

..,. The Association. Could three Oregon Ducks make their way to the NBA? Frederick Jones (20) is already there as a guard for the Indiana Pacers. Could Coach Ernie Kent's two Lukes (Jackson 33 and Ridnour 13) be next?

Kent depends on his talented guard. "I look to Luke to provide leadership on and off the court," says the 47-yearold coach. "We're a fami ly," says Ridnour. "We don't like to lose, so we play together ... and it makes a difference." While he is highly motivated and competitive as a player, Ridnour insists that team play is more important than individual attention. "I just want us to win as a team." Luke is not alone in his faith on the Ducks' team. He says Luke Jackson, James Davis, Jay Anderson, Matt Short, Marcus Kent, and others are fellow-believers who encourage each other on and off the court. "We all meet for Bible study before every game, and sometimes our nonChristian teammates join us as well , reciting 'The Lord's Prayer' with us." Ridnour's commitment to faith and high standards were tested last summer when he was offered an opportunity to be photographed with the AllAmerican team for Playboy magazine. Luke turned it down because the image of the magazine connicts with his Christian beliefs. Shortl y afterward, he and teammate Lu ke Jackson were asked to pose for larger-than-life-sized billboards to be posted in New York, Las Vegas, and other cities-a fair reward for sticking to his witness as a clean-living, fairplaying Christian "hero." "Luke is a tremendous worker and

dri ver from behind the scenes," says Kent. "He has a great inner spirit, inner force .. . which is based in his Christian beliefs." The Ducks' coach thinks the fai th of some of his top players has a role in how they play. He says they have a "soft-heartedness," an abi li ty to open their hearts and care about each other, and to display compassion and passion in their on-court and offcourt behavior. "In the 2001 -2002 season, our Ducks were rated No. I in seven offensive categories, but especially in assists," says Kent. "That comes from the ability to humble themselves. And if that same humility can be applied in the family, in the business-place, in churches, on teams- that is what will make a difference." Last year, Luke Ridnour burst on the national scene in the Ducks' run to the Elite Eight. What fans saw was a talented guard who displayed a wide array of uncanny, crowd-pleasing passes and long-range jump shots. They saw for the first time this unselfish playmaker who brought out the best in others. Coach Kent characterizes Ridnour best when he says, "He gives himself up for his teammates." Climbing into the national limelight was not all fu n and games, however. It brought Ridnour to the attention of a country that wanted to know more about him- which led to a brand-new challenge. "The only thing I found

SPORTS SPECTRU M CO VERS AL L THE SPORTS. WEBSITE , http ,/J www . â&#x20AC;˘por t. o rg

stressful about the [NCAA] tournaments was the media pressure. Mostly, it was a lot of fun . .. and it was what I had always dreamed about." Because he is qu iet-spoken and almost shy off the court, it was a bit of a stretch for him to become a media darling. Besides, he didn' t want to be a starjust part of the team. Last season, the IJucks exceeded all preseason expectations. Predicted to finish in the middle of the Pac-10, they won it, advancing under Ridnour's leadershi p to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. This year, they were ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation in early polls-piling totally new expectations on Kent, Ridnour, and the others. And then there is one more expectation being noised about after Ridnour's breakthrough sophomore season. Could the NBA be next for this Pete Maravich disciple? "Sure I am aiming for the NBAthat's the top," he says, "but wherever the Lord wants to take me, that's where I'll go." Wherever that is, there's sure to be a whole generat ion of fans who will eagerly follow the legend of Luke- but still no one to chance a Coke that he won't hit his long-range shots.

Freelance writer Jeanne Halsey's son Alex also played for Rob Ridnour at Blaine High School. Jeanne is a professional writer who lives in Blaine. SPORTS SPE CTR UM - J AN UARY-FEBRUARY 2003

15


r---- --- ---- ----------- ----- ------------ -- --------------- -- ---------- ------------------------------------------- -

AS ONE OF THE NEWYOUNG QB STARS IN THE NFL,

ou look at David Carr and you see a star in the maki ng.

HOW DOES HOUSTON'S

You see a 23-year-old man with chiseled good looks that

DAVID CARR KEEP FROM THINKING HE'S THE

have put him in a GQ pictorial. You see a blossoming Houston Texans quarterback with a 7-year contract worth $46.2 million.

:I

You don't see a 21-year-old student livi ng wi th his wife and newborn son in a cramped two-bedroom apartment fi lled with thrift-store-quality furniture near the Fresno State University campus. You don't see someone who says he graduated with a master's degree

BESTTHING SINCE

in "surviving with two dependents on $595 a month" and occasionally

PLASTIC HELMETS?

could afford only Top Ramen for lunch. You don't see someone who, after 2 years of near inactivity as a backup

BY RIC K WEBER

at Fresno State, was asked to redshirt. You don't see the frustration and despair that churned inside his soul and nearly led him to transfer-a decision that could have taken him down an entirely different path and dramatically altered the course of his life.

0 1 8

SPORTS SPECTRUM • JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2003

"Patience," Carr says. TO SUBSCRIBE: CALL 1·800 · 28l ·8lll


--------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------- -------------------------- --, This is what God has been teaching Carr in the 14 years since he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. "I try to be a little aggressive sometimes," he says. "I got married young [at 19]. I' m going to have my second child soon. I'm a guy who always wants things to happen right away. And so God makes sure He slows everything down for me. He tries to tell me who's in control. That's something I see every day." For a No. I draft pick, for the comerstone of a new franchise in a footballmad city that had its team stolen away, there is this daunting daily carousel. The days are long, filled with multiple meetings and mind-numbing film study. Writers have questions to ask. Photographers have photographs to shoot. The business manager has business to manage. There is a tugging sensation. Carr does not fight it. His gift is that he gets along with just about everybody who crosses his path. This is why he can say, "I try to find the good in everyone."

It's not that he doesn't have a choice. He does. Ryan Leaf had a choice. He chose to alienate himself with temperamental outbursts and confrontational behavior that ultimately led to a premature demise and an indelible legacy as poster child for the NFL flameout. So what is it with Can ? Peace. It is the peace Jesus describes in John 14:27: "Peace !leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. " It is the peace 9-year-old David CruT felt when he walked to the front of the chapel at a Royal Rangers camp in the mountains near Fresno and, flanked by his cousin, accepted Christ. It is something Carr lives with but can't really explain. Something he believes nobody can truly explain. "I don't know how l could play this game without it," he says. "I don't know that I could be comfortable at the quarterback position-or any position of leadership-without it. I just don't know how some of these guys can go

without it. I really don't. Because I go out on the field, and I don't know what's going to happen. You never know what's going to happen when you get 22 guys running around. You can draw it up nice and neat on a piece of paper, but it never ends up like that. "I don' t know what's going to happen. But l know Someone who knows what's going to happen." There was never any doubt in Carr's mind that he would make that decision. He only needed to find the right time. His grandfather, David Joyner, is a pastor. His parents' lives were filled with Christ. Tuesday nights were for prayer meetings, Wednesday nights were for Bible study, and Thursday nights were for choir practice. Can would sit in the back pew of the sanctuary, doing his homework. Or he'd hang out with his grandmother, the church secretruy The sanctuary trul y was hi s sanctuary. "That was always where I felt like I was comfortable," he says.

It is impossible to know CruT and not recognize that peace, that tranquility that is made possible by an inner strength that transcends the tough times. "One thing I've noticed about him is that he has a very strong faith," says Texans tight end Billy Miller, who has attended the team's chapel and Bible study along with Carr. "It's in him and in his family. You can tell it's been passed down from generations. There's a great faith structure." In following the path that God set before him, a 17-year-old Can found himself at a Christian camp near Bakersfield. He noticed Melody Tipton, but for whatever reason, they did not meet- until the final day. That's when he summoned the courage to ask her for

<111 Carr Keys: What is it David Carr brings to the Houston Texans? In the opinion of a couple of experts: Mel Kiper Jr. and Dom Capers, he has the following qualities: strong arm, durability, consistency, mobility, toughness, presence, good-decisionmaking, a great work ethic, and leadership on and off the field. And one more thing : Carr's college coach Pat Hill says that another pair of keys to Carr's success are his wife Melody and their son, Austin .

SPORT S SP ECTR UM - JANAU RY 路 FE BRUA RY 200 3

19

j


WH AT DR I V ES DAVID CARR?

her phone number. She didn 't figure he'd call, because they attended di fferent high schools. But when she got home, she discovered that he had already left a message. David and Melody had the Dallas Cowboys in common. Both loved Troy Aikman. Carr's parents were born outside Dallas. They loved the Cowboys enough to give Carr's brother, Derek, the middle name of Dallas. It wasn't until months after they met that Carr told her he had a football scholarship to Fresno State. His first year there was filled with heartache. He missed Melody, who was finishing up high school. Bulldogs coach Pat Hill told him he was young, that there were plenty of girls out there. "This is the one," he told Hill. And so David and Melody were married on March 27, 1999. And 14 months later, they had a son, Austin. His parents, his grandparents, his wife, his son- they have formed a support group. It's what Leaf didn't have. It's what wi ll keep Carr on track. It's what will help him to continue to develop as a person, even if at times he doesn' t develop as a quarterback as quick ly as everyone wants him to. It's what inspires agent David Dunn, who failed in a bid to land Carr as a client while nabbing Joey Harri ngton, to gush, "I probably shouldn 't say this, but (the Carrs] may be one of the

2> The Carr Zone DAVID CARR > 6-3 > 223 > DOB: 7-21-79 in Bakersfield, California Late bloomer: When he entered his freshman year of high school, David was 5' 4" and weig hed 105 pounds Family tradition: Has an uncle who played for the Raiders and 49ers Body works: Studied kinesiology at Fresno State University His body works: Benches 390 pounds; squats 500; vertica l leap: 35 inches Home team: Wife, Melody; Son, Austin REWIND:> 1995-1996 In his last two seasons at Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, threw for 3,496 yards and 27 touchdowns > 1999 Chose to redshirt after his first two years at Fresno State. Was Fresno's scout team QB during that time > 2000 Started all 12 games for Fresno; passed for 2,338 yards and 18 touchdowns > 2001 Completed 309 passes for 4,308 yards and 42 touchdowns > 2002 Led the Houston Texa ns to victory in thei r inaugural game, beating the Dallas Cowboys 19-10 THE GOOD STUFF: > 2001 Named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year > 2001 Won the Johnny Unitas Award, the Sammy Baugh Award, and the Pop Warner Award > 2001 Led nation in passing yards and touchdowns > 2002 Drafted No. 1 by the Houston Texans

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nicest fami lies you 'll ever meet." It's what inspires Fresno State assistant athletic director Steve Weakland, who has remained a close friend, to say, "I don't think there's any question that his faith and his family are the two biggest reasons for his success. He's a very grou nded individual. He has taken care of his family. He basically retired his parents and built them a house in Houston, told them they' re no longer worki ng. With him, it's always family first." Here's what Carr recalls about his childhood: Although his father worked 12 hours a day, he never left the house in the morning without reading the Bible and praying. When David asked him to do something, his father never

said he was too busy. "I want to be like that," he remembers thinking. And so he and Melody write in a devotional journal and share their thoughts every night at bedtime. They' ll read a passage of Scripture and discuss it. Austin will be in between them. While they embrace him, they know he is embracing every thought that is expressed, every prayer that is offered. "I' ve seen friends who have gone on the other side; they've been without God and the fami ly structure," he says. 'They had the money and had the fame and all the things that come with it, but they struggled. Some guys collapsed. Some guys that I've known from Fresno State or schools nearby that didn 't have God in their life .. . you don't hear about

..,. Carr Parts. David's wife Melody (far left), often teams up with David's little brother Derek to watch David play.


WHA T DR I VES DAVID CAR R?

A Carr Speaker. After the Houston Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboys early in the season, David Carr suddenly found out what the term "media frenzy" is all about.

them anymore, because they couldn't handle the pressure. "They didn't know how to lean on God and their family. God's there for you, .to take all the pressure. He's bigger than all of us." There is temptation. It goes with the territory. He says he hasn't seen the signs held up by women at Reliant Stadium who apparently want him to be a part of their lives. But he has heard about them. "My brother tells me about every one of them," he says with a laugh. All he has to do is look down at his left ring finger. The ling isn't there, because rules prevent players from wearing jewelry during games. But in its place is a piece of tap~ in the shape of a ring. "Just to let my wife know I'm still th inking about her," he says, "and that she's still there with me." Says Miller, "My wife really liked the idea-so much that she asked me about it." Carr includes Melody in just about everythi ng he does. If the Texans would allow her into film-study sessions, he'd bring her along. And they'd probably be surprised at her knowledge, because she's been studying films with Carr at home for years. "Being in the position I'm in, we go

through a lot of things that maybe the average person doesn't go through, as far as pressures and getting pulled different ways," he says. "Christ says we should be one, and it's hard when all the focus is on me. We did a fashion show the other day, and I made sure she was with me, that she walked out with me, right next to me. "I'm really selfish when it comes to my family. When I have free time, that's where I am- with my family. I make sure everyone knows it." That's something that was instilled in him through the mentoring of Trent Dilfer, who was Carr's idol when he was quarterback at Fresno State, leaving 4 years before Carr arrived. Carr has observed and absorbed the extraordinary story ofDilfer's faith. He has seen how Dilfer accepted abuse in Tampa Bay without making excuses or pointing fingers. He has seen Dilfer lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory, then get dumped the next year, ending up in Seattle. He has heard Dilfer humbly describe all of his hardships as blessings, as examples of what the psalmists describe as the wonders God has done. He has heard Dilfer publicly thank God for the adversity, offering that his "greatest growth usually comes in times of despair." "He's a great friend," Carr says. "I admire him as a football player, as a person, a husband, a father. I can't put him on a pedestal , but he does everything right, it seems like. He always has time for me. If we don't talk to each other within a week, we' re probably on the phone, calling each other at the same time." Carr has been known to misplace his wallet and car keys. What he has never misplaced is his faith in God. He keeps Him close. He says that ever since his high school days, he has carded laminated Scripture- Jeremiah 29: 11 and the Psalms are his favorites-underneath the insole of his right shoe, along with a cross. Asked if he does th is even when he plays, he replies, "Especially when I play." Carr endured a rough indoctrination in his first year in Houston, operating behi nd a patchwork offensive line that frequently allowed bull-rushing defenders to force-feed him a diet of Twf du Jour. But what the Texans really have noticed is the graciousness, poise, and unflappability. They have noticed that

A My other Carr. . . Third Day's David Carr (far left) plays drums, not football.

TWO CARR GOLLISIIDN

â&#x20AC;˘ It wasn't until Third Day drummer David Carr found himself in a home improvement store in Atlanta in September that he fully appreciated the fervor for t he other David Carr. The drummer for contemporary Christian music's hottest band reported to the customer service desk to pick up his order. The clerk called the warehouse to check on the availability, saying David Carr was ready for pickup. Carr noticed a wry smile appearing on the clerk's face. She hung up the phone and said, "He says he wants an autograph ." Carr, thinking he had run into a Third Day fan in the band's hometown, said, "Sure." Then she added, "He's a big Texans fan." "It was hilarious," Carr says. The QB, meanwhile, keeps Third Day's debut CD in his car at all times. He knew the band had a Carr, but he didn't know it had his namesake. Who would be more proficient, Third Day's Carr as a QB or the Texans' Carr as a drummer? "I t hink he could probably pull off the drums much better than I could ever begin to play quarterback," the drummer says. "I wouldn't even know which way to run, man." ''I'd have to say he'd be a better 08," the QB says, "because I can't keep a beat to save my life." - RIC K WEB ER

he is living out the words on the eightfoot-long sign above the locker-room exit: DEEDS NOT WORDS. "It's hard to be a phony in this business, because there's a sense of accountability you're going to be held to," Texans coach Dom Capers says. "Everybody 's fate is so intertwined. Guys are going to develop trust in somebody whose actions speak for them. I think David li ves by example. I think it's very apparent that he's a man of strong faith." Says Carr, "Stay true to yourself. Through praying, reading the Bible, or talking to my wife, that's something that I keep feeling. I've tried to stay solid spiritually." Sounds positively Dilferesque.

Rick Weber is a freelance writer who lives in Houston, Texas. SPORTS SPE CT RUM - JANUAR Y- FEBRU ARY 2003

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n just his second year at the helm of Indiana University, Coach Mike Davis led the Hoosiers to the national championship game. Sports Spectrum writer Dean Jackson talked with Davis about replacing legendary Bob Knight, playing in college basketballs top game, and keeping perspective under the microscope. Sports Spectrum: What are the toughest

knew I could do it from a coaching standpoint. It was everything else. I never had to speak to hundreds and hundreds, the interviews, han55: Were you concerned about measuring up dling everyday problems, and to hear people if Indiana went looking? criticize me on radio and television. I never had Davis: I think they looked. I know there were been through it. It hurts a lot. It just eats you up. people calling about this job during the course But I knew God put me here for a reason. of the year. Trying to maneuver and work themWho else would put me here? Who else would put a no-name guy in a high-profile position that everyone in the country is talking about? Every sports fan, every basketball fan at some time was talking about Indiana's situation. As a Christian you know 55: What are the discouraging He's working all the time. things people have said? Here we are in the same bracket Davis: "He can't coach." "This as Duke, who everyone says is shouldn't be a training ground. unbeatable. We haven't won a first They need to get a big name who's round game in a long time and we been through it." "He was wrong are facing them. The whole counabout how he handled that situatry saw that game. The whole tion." Just everything. I try to country knew Indiana beat Duke. understand this is Indiana basketThat platform was set for me ball, whether you like it or not. because I gave God the credit. That's why I always felt positive. 55: About midway through your That's why I told the team we are first season, you made the comgoing to Atlanta. On senior night I ment that you didn't know if you told the people we were going to SPORTS SPECTRUM GOES were the right man for the job of Atlanta to play for the national leading Indiana. The media ran ONE-ON-ONE WITH MIKE DAVIS TO championship and we did. That with it. What did you mean? was God's voice saying, "Give me Davis: There were a lot of things FIND OUT HOW HIS FIRST COUPLE the credit, and I'll bring you behind that statement. I knew that tlu路ough it." There was no way on it was something [the players] OFYEARS HAVE GONEASTHE paper that Indiana should have beat would take to heart. How many Duke and Oklahoma, and play for HOOPS COACH AT INDIANA coaches say that? How many the national championship. If you coaches make that statement? All go with all the experts, not one of WITH DEAN JACKSON of them. With me it was like I had them would have picked Indiana to stepped over the line. A lot of be in the championship game, not people didn't take it that way, but a lot of them selves into the job. I think there were guys who one. But I had to realize it wasn't about me. did. I came from a locker room meeting. It was were trying to put things out in the press to get just a knockout, drag-out session- with me the job. I know when all this stuff was going on SS: What was the sustaining force that kept pouring my heart out to my players about playit was just a way of God saying, "I am going to you going strong into the tournament? ing with pride and not going out and just showput doubt in everyone's mind about you. Then Davis: I knew we would be there. I knew ing up. When I came out and made those stateGod put me on the platform to share His Word. I am going to bring you through this whole ments, it's "Who is this guy?" ordeaL Alii need you to do is give me the credI knew it would be a great ride. I just went I had no idea how high-profile this job is it for all you are doing." along with it. when you say something. They just try to blow it up to something more than what it is. 55: You must have had doubts. SS: All season long you told the team you The majority of the people didn't think I Davis: I had doubts if they ever were going to were going to the NCAA Final Four in would be the next coach. They were waiting like me. I never had doubts if I could coach or Atlanta? for the next bomb to drop to say, "Now it's not. There aren't any secrets in basketbalL I Davis: It started from Day I. things you've had to endure in the transition from assistant to head coach at IU? Mike Davis: Dealing with the people. When people walk up to you and say "I did not like you at first. But I like you now," I think, "Why didn't you like me at first? I never did anything to you." They think it's a good thing to say. What kind of statement is that to say to a person? I guess that since I am a coach, they think that's okay. How could you not like a person you didn't know?

I I I I

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time." I guess that statement made them feel like now is the time to go looking for a coach.

I I

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TO SUBS CRI BE: CAll l -800-283-8l33


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- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------~ 23 SPORTS SPEC TRUM • JANAURY -FEBRUARY 2003 SPORTS SPECTRUM COVERS A LL THE SPORTS . WEBSITE: http: fjwww . sport.or g


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H EA RT OF TH E HOOSI ERS

~ Mr. Davis goes to the Big Dance. March 23, 2002: Davis shouts orders to his Hoosiers against the Kent State Golden Flashes in the championship game of the South Region at Rupp Arena In Lexington.

Indiana defeated Kent State 81-69, and Coach Davis accepts congratulations from Hoosier fans.

OOUO PENSINGER

SS: It wasn' t just coach's hype to get players stirred up? Davis: No, no. They thought it was. They didn't really start believing until we beat Illinois and Michigan State and blew people out. Then they started to think we are pretty good. SS: Were your players unnecessarily nervous heading into the Duke game? Davis: I don' t think so. I think they were excited to just be able to play Duke. They knew we had a good team. I think they overwhelmed us at fi rst with how quick they were and how good they were. We made adjustments and kept fighting. SS: What did your players tell you

p -.. The Davis Zone MIKE DAVIS >- 6-5 >- DOB: 9-15-60 Roll Tide: Played his college ball at the University of Alabama Drafted, but no go: Was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1983 but did not play in the NBA CBA: Played professional basketball in Europe and in the Continental Basketball Association {Topeka Sizzlers) Miles to go: Began his coaching career as an assistant at Miles College in 1989. Miles is a faith-based college in Fai rfield, Alabama. South of the border: At one time coached the Venezuelan national team Home team: Wife, Tamilya; Daughter Lateesha; Sons Mike and Antoine REWIND; >- 1979-83 Scored 1,211 points while playing for the Crimson Tide, averaging 10 points a game >- 1979-83 Snagged 165 steals while at Alabama, third on the school's all-time list THE GOOD STUFF: >- 1979 Named Mr. Basketball in his senior year of high school >- 1980-83 Selected the Mr. Hustle winner every year he played for Alabama >- 2002 Given the Bank One Major Taylor Award, which goes to an African-American sports figure who has made contributions to youth and encouraging excellence >- 2002 Hometown of Fayette, Alabama, declared July 20 Mike Davis Day

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as you headed into the Duke game? What did you say to calm them down? Davis: We just talked about having a game plan. l knew it was a great opportunity for everyone. If we don' t beat Duke, I am not doing this interview. It was a great opportunity for God to get his message out. It was a great opportunity for me and for the team to get respect. It was a great opp01tunity for each individual surrounding the program and a great opportunity to get the Indiana family back together. Everything worked out. There was a lot of drama, but it worked out perfectly. SS: The foul that put Jay Williams on the line to shoot. You had the look like you were sentenced to prison. What was going on in your mind? Davis: I was really upset with the play. Indiana people never forget anything. The thing that crossed my mind was that we had just blown a great opportunity to bri ng everybody back together. I was also feeling bad for Fife. If he made the foul that cost the game, who would forgi ve him? He had played so well the whole year. He had given his heart and soul, and to end like that wouldn't be good. I am happy we won and Fife got a chance to be remembered as a player that gave his heart every night. They are going to always remember Dane Fife as a player at Indiana. SS: Coach, I have appreciated your show of emotion-your emotion flows freely-but especially the frustration of that play where you buried your head into the chair. That showed that you really love what you do. Davis: I really do. The normal coach would not have made that move. But, I am not the normal coach. All these guys say what people want them to say and act the way people want them to act. But

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they are miserable. My players know my emotion and my love for the game, and that's the most important thi ng for them- to know how I really feel. SS: You grew up very poor in Alabama, as one of four children of a single mother. How did those adversities prepare you for coaching and your fi rst Division I job at Indiana? Davis: I think any time you go through things in life, you have to really grow as a person. It can mold you or make you bitter. There is a lot of pain and hurt living in certain circumstances and certain situations. But you always want something better. I think when you try to do things the right way and not get sidetracked, that's when you really mature as a person. I could have easily taken the path of my friends. We were all poor growing up. But they wanted the easy way out by doing something illegal. I didn't want to live that way. SS: You knew it was wrong. Davis: I knew it was wrong. I got a

lot of my morals from my grandfather who was a minister, a Baptist preacher. I knew right from wrong. A lot of my friends didn' t go to church at all. They would tend to get in trouble a lot. Sometimes I was there and got in trouble with them. It wasn't like I did anything, but I was there. I realized that you do get in trouble by just being with someone. It wasn't anyth ing major. It was just little things like stealing plums off someone's tree. But I realized that by being with them I could get in trouble. They continued their path from plum trees to stealing something in a store to selling drugs. I think my upbringi ng helped me-having a mother that always talked evet)' single day about staying out of trouble and doing the


H EAR T OF THE HOOS IER S

..,. Th e tie that binds . April 1, 2002. Still sporting his IU tie for the championship game against Maryland, Mike Davis encourages Tom Coverdale. Maryland won the game 64·52 and captured the 2002 NCAA title.

ri ght things. It was always a voice inside of me that said this is wrong don't do it, don' t do it.

SS: That created in you a mindset that i f you aren't planning to do good, you' ll end up doi ng bad? Davis: Yes. I think I am a different person than most people. There are certain things I j ust blow off. I always try to help people. As I look back over my life and how I got to this point, I realized it was a definite blessing. This job is a difficult job in terms of human nature. When you are in a high-profile position there are always people that like you and don't like you and there will always be middle of the road people. I've seen all three. Some people don't like me because I am the one that replaced Bob Knight. Some people don't like me because I am not the guy they wanted for the j ob. Some people like me because I am black and they want to see me do well. Some people j ust don't know. There are all kinds of scenarios behind this j ob. But what I have to focus on, more than anything, is rememberi ng who I am as a person. Realize this job is a great j ob, that's not who I am as a person and try to help as many people as possible in this position.

SS : What practical ways do you keep your perspective and nurture your faith in private times? Davis: When I am riding around always I listen to Christian tapes. I just try to keep it close to me. I f I am busy, and I don' t get a chance to listen, I can tell a difference and I can feel a difference. I love my family. If I am doing the right thing, they are going to want to talk like me and act like me. SS: Tell me more about your relationship with Rob Barnes of the University of Mississippi. Davis: We met at the Black Coaches Association in Orlando a few years ago. I knew of him from Ole Miss. It was strange for two men to meet and talk for hours and hours and hours, and we hit it off. We' ve just become good friends. At the Finals we stayed at the same hotel, and we prayed together. His brother is a preacher, and before we played Oklahoma and Maryland we called him from the hotel and put him on speakerphone and had him pray for us. Rob has just been a good guy, a great friend. He won't give you logic. He will j ust tell you what is right and wrong from the Bible.

SS: You are in a high-profile position and the government pays your salary. Do you find it hard not to rock the boat, in terms of your faith? Meaning if you share your faith you are chastised? Davis: I don't care what anyone says to me about it. The thing I look at, I know who put me in this position. I am not going to be ashamed of Him at all. If someone wants to say something negative about me for thanking God, that's between them and God, not me. They' ve got to deal with God. If you got any God in you, you know you don't mess with God like that. Growing up, if someone was a Christian, I dicln't mess with them. I stayed away from saying anything bad about them or messing with them because I knew God was on their side. When it's God's children, don't mess with them. If someone has the nerve to mess with me over that, God's going to take care of it.

Dean Jackson is a freelance writer who lives in Harlan, Indiana. He's the play-by-play voice of the Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne basketball Ma stadons.

SS: The school doesn't give you any heat over sharing your faith? Davis: No, no, no. I've never heard anything about it. To tell you the truth, they seem to be happy about it. I know people who, in their positions, can't say things, but I think that's a bad position to be in. COURTESY: DEAN JACKSON

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• To order th e Links Letter, call us today at 1·800·90LINKS, or send an E-mail message to linksletter@linksplayers.com. We'll send you a free issue for your review. The Links Letter is a publication of Links Players International, a ministry dedicated to equipping golfers to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world today.


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THE ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE ENTERS ITS 17TH SEASON WITHANEW SCHEDULE, A NETWORK TV CONTRACT, AND UN-BRIDLED OPTIMISM

BY MATTHEW PICKUT

â&#x20AC;˘ XFL.Gone.

USFL. C'ya. WLAF. Went to Europe. AFL. Alive and kicking. While other new football leagues have failed to catch on with the American public, the Arena Football League stands as a testimony to the league's innovative and accessible style. It all began on February I I , 198 1, in New York City's Madison Square Garden. While watchi ng an indoor soccer game, Jim Foster sketched on a manila envelope how to fit a football field into the confines of an arena. It would take him 6 years to see his idea in action, but in 1987 his league made its debut with teams in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Denver. In the 16 years since the league began, it has grown from four to sixteen teams, and there are several more teams on the drawing board. "When it stmted I wanted to see if it had any life, so I sta1ted working with some f1iends from the NFL to see if the idea could take on a life of its own," says Foster, who now mns the Quad City Steamwheelers of the af2, a developmentalleague launched in 1999 by the AFL. From its very first test game between

the Chicago Politicians and the Rockford Metros on April 26, 1986, Arena Football has shown its fans some great football. It took some time, however, for the league to establish an identity. "As the talent level improved, there were superstars," says Kevin Sheller, owner of ArenaFan.com, and a fan who has followed the league since 1992. "But they were learning the game as they went." One th ing the players learned to do early on was score. The games fca-

tured scores that looked more like basketball than football, and the fans loved the offensive explosions. The scoreboard-stretching scores that became commonplace make what the Orlando Predators did in 1992 especially intriguing. They held the San Antonio Force scoreless for the only shutout in AFL history. Only one week later the Predators and the Detroi t Drive would combine for seven possessions and 24 points in the final 46 seconds of a contest! Dubbed

"The Miracle Minute," that outburst gave Orlando a 50-49 victory. The game stands as one of the all-time great examples of AFL football's fast and furious action. Since then memorable finishes and high scores have remai ned a staple of AFL play. What AFL fan can forget the New York Dragons' record-setting 99-68 defeat of the Caroli na Cobras in 200 1? New York's Aaron Garcia passed for II touchdowns and rushed for another one to help the COURTESY: GRI\NO RAP10S AAMPAGE


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------, interest in the indoor game because he had played for the Iowa Barnstormers. The AFL is exploring new cities for future expansion. New teams are expected to begin play in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. in the next 2 years. Also, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams owns the rights for the Nashville Kats. They could rejoin the league once a suitable lease can be found with an arena. Current league commissioner C. David Baker bi lis the league as a " 16year overnight success." Baker's reign has seen an increase in big name owners, increased parity, and a landmark network deal with NBC. The agreement with NBC gives the league an opportunity to position itself for national network exposure with more games on network TV than the NHL or the NBA. To accommodate NBC, the league has altered its schedule. This season, the league wi ll kick off its season in February and add 2 games to its schedule. Despite being the league's visible pitchman as commissioner (and at 6' 9" and almost 400 pounds, he is very visible), Baker knows the league's success has been a team effort. "We have

a great, interactive product that has survived for 16 years on the merits of that product and by the hard work of a lot of overworked people. I'm excited that our great game is going to be exposed to a whole new group of people." The AFL hopes that the excitement of the game and the expanded network coverage wi ll encourage new fans to fall in love with its product. "I hope all the fans that are being introduced to our game see it for what it truly is," says Baker, "an action-packed, affordable, fan-friendly game played by players who love the game and who are great conditioned athletes."

GREAT MOMENTS IN Afl HISTORY Jim Foster conducts the very """"''~--~...,,............. first Arena Football game. The "test game" in Rockford, Illinois, matches the Chicago Politicia ns against the Rockford Metros.

April28, 1988 18, 1989

NOV. Detroit Drive and Chicago Bruisers com pete in league's first-ever European exhibition ga me, the Arenaball Transatla ntic Challenge in Lo ndon.

June 13, 1992 The Orlando Predators make AFL history by holding t he San Antonio Force to 0 points. This remains t he only shutout in league history.

June 19, 1992

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"The Miracle Minute." The Orlando Predators and the Detroit Drive combine for 24 points and seve n possessions in the final 46 seconds of Orlando's 50-49 win. Orlando's Barry Wagner accounts fo r 14 points on his own """"""'"'""~''"' in the last minute.

1998

The league celebrates its l Oth anniversary. Total attendance for the season surpasses one million for the first time.

1997

Dragons score one point shy of I00. The 167 points the teams racked up remains the record for most points scored in professional football. The AFL wasn't started as a developmental league for the NFL, but that hasn't stopped the big ooys from taking some of the AFL's great athletes. And none is more celebrated than Kurt Warner, who led the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXX IV. In earning the Super Bowl MVP award, Warner helped created newfound

We ndell Davis celebrates a San Jose TO during ArenaBowl XVI. The San Jose SaberCats defeated the Arizona Rattlers 52-14 on August 18, 2002. ~ California clash. Two Southe rn California teams represent the Golden State: San Jose and the LA Avengers . ~ Small markets too. The Grand Rapids Rampage (ArenaBowl XV cha mps) represent the AFL's smallest population base. ,. Fan-tastic. Are na League fans think indoor football is worth getting excited about. .6. Cats smash snakes.

The Arena Hall of Fame inducts its first six mem bers, including game creator Jim Foster.

1999

Ku rt Warner, forme r Iowa Barnstormers quarterback, takes the reins of t he St. Louis Rams and guides the tea m to a Super Bowl victory. Warner's effort brings t he AFL into the national spotlight, proving that AFL players can compete in t he NFL.

2000

The league re-opens the 2000 season after labor conflicts fo rce the AFL Board of Directors to suspend play temporari ly. Players form the Arena Football League Players' Organizing Committee to help save the seaso n.

August 20, 2000

Kicker David Cool's lastsecond field goal lifts the Orlando Predators over the Nashville Kats 41-38 in ArenaBowl XIV to end the closest ArenaBowl in league history.

JUlY 7, 2001 The New York Dragons defeat t he Carolina Cobras 99-68, setting a record fo r most points scored by a team and most points scored by both tea ms. Dragon's QB Aa ron Garcia t hrows fo r 11 TDs and rushes fo r one more.

August 13, 2001

ArenaBowl XV becomes the __ . fastest sell-out in league history, selling out the VanAndel Arena in Grand Rapids in 24 hours.


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ARENA FAITH LEAGUE? • Surprisingly, the 'T' in AFL could stand for "faith." From the very top of the league down to players and coaches, faith in Christ has been a part of the league for 16 years. Almost every team has a chaplain who is available to players duri ng the week and on game nights. "The spiritual principles that come from a chapel service can last much longer than the euphoria of an ArenaBowl victory or championship ring," says commissioner C. David Baker, who helped start the trend of teams having chaplains. "They are principles that can help all live long in faith, marriage, family, profession, and life." Baker's commitment to helping players spiritually stems from

AFL 101 ARENA FOOTBALL BASICS As the onl y professional sport to be granted a US patent (US Patent Office patent No. 4,911 ,443) the Arena Football League presents a uniquely exciting brand of football. Players frequentl y wind up in the first and second rows with the fans, and while you can keep the ball, you have to return the players. "What's most important is that it's

high). On either side of the goal posts and eight feet above the ground are nets that are 30 feet high and 30 feet wide. Balls that bounce off the nets back into the field of play are considered "live." Scoring is similar to the outdoor NFL game. Safeties yield two points, field goals score three, and touchdowns six. A kicked PAT is worth one point and a PAT scored on the ground or in the air is worth two. In the AFL, a player may dropkick a field goal for four points at any time.

A Commish and Coach. David Baker, realizing that the Arena League appeals to a young crowd, has called it " rock and roll football." Mike Dailey has been at the Firebirds' helm since 1997.

his own faith. "Many times, despite my best efforts, I fall short, not only in my job but in my personal life. In the chaotic storm of each day, I find that my faith gives me hope and biblical principles give me direction . Most of all, however, the grace of Jesus Christ has given me abundant forgiveness," says Baker. "Each man's faith must be his own. I fall far short every day and am personally saved not by anything I do myself but only by the grace of God through Jesus Christ." While some coaches may think that a Christian faith makes playe rs less aggressive, Indiana Firebird's head coach Mi ke Dailey sees faith as a positive. "It's voluntary. We don't have 'are you a Christian' on the tryout form," reveals Dailey, "but we look for guys with charac.ter-and faith is a part of that." For his part Firebirds team chaplain Fred Rodkey, pastor of Chapel Rock Christian Church in Indianapolis, appreciates the opportunity to minister to the Firebirds players. "It's a chance to challenge and encourage and build up these guys," says Rodkey. "That's what I'm here for, to encourage them i.n the Lord." About 15 of the team's players meet with Rod key once a week after practice. "It's a chance for us, in the middle of the week after a hard practice, to get some perspective on where we are," says Coach Dailey. Bill Houston, a host for Sports Spectrum radio, serves as team chaplain for the Grand Rapids Ram page. He sees that kind of relationship with the players as a large part of his ministry. "It's important that they see you there," he says. "With 25 guys and a coaching staff, you try and not be pushy, but through the day-to-day conversations you hope that you can get the opportunity to share."

A No ordinary Joe. Little people and big people alike love to get close to big bruisers like No. 55, Joe Wylie of the Grand Rapids Rampage.

football, and it's good football, but we don't want to compete with the NFL," says creator Jim Foster. "1 worked in the USFL, and it was just an exact replica of the NFL," recalls Foster. "What has made it [the AFL] grow is that you walk in and sit down and say 'Wow, they're playing football !'" Play takes place on a 50-yard-long, 85-feet-wide field with 8-yard end zones with 8-inch padded dasher boards as sideline barriers. To be considered out-of-bounds, a player must touch the sideline at the base of the boards or be knocked over the boards. The most unique features of the AFL playing surface are the goalposts suspended above the back line of each end zone. The goal posts measure 9 feet wide and 15 feet high (NFL goal posts are 18 feet wide and I0 feet

In contrast to the outdoor game, teams have only eight men per side and all players must play both offense and defense. Only the quarterback, a kicker and an offensive specialist on offense and two defensive specialists on defense don't play both ways. AFL offenses are based on variations of the outdoor "run and shoot." A team will usually have three linemen (one of which must report as an eligible receiver), one fullback in the backfield, three wide receivers, and a quarterback under center. Four players must line up on the line of scrimmage, and one player may be in motion toward the line at the ti me of the snap. Defenses run mostly combinations of deep zone and man coverages or straight-up man-on-man coverages. Three players must li ne up as clown TO SUBSCRIBE' CALL 1 ·8 00 · 283 ·8333


RE A DY FOR PRIME 1IME

linemen and rush "head-up." No twisting or stunting is allowed. The two linebackers must line up within five yards behind the line of scrimmage and within the outside hips of the outside linemen. This space is called "the box," and one linebacker must stay in "the box" until the ball breaks the line of scrimmage; the other may rush the passer. With a 50-yard field, there are no punts in Arena Football, and on fourth down a team must go for it or attempt a field goal. Players receiving kicks in

.a. Different look. The big net is one of the unique differences of the AFL.

the end zone must attempt to advance the ball. If a player cannot advance out of the end zone, touchbacks are placed at the offense's 5-yard line. While these rules may seem confusing to the first-time viewer, the AFL gives fans unparalleled access to the game, and viewers new to the indoor game usually catch on pretty quickly. Everything that happens during a game is set up to give the fan access to the game. This access carri es over to the players, who freely interact with the fans, returning to the field after the game, win or lose, to sign autographs. Fans can see, hear, and sometimes even smell and feel everything happening on the field. It all goes together to create football up-close and personal, and a game like nothing else in professional sports.

OALANDO

""

PREDAIDR!i

American Conference American Conference National Conference

National Conference

Western Division San Jose Sabei'Cats (13-1) -

Central Division Chicago Rush (9·5) - Asolid

Eastern Division New Jersey Gladiators (9·5) -

Southern Division Orlando Predators (7-7) -

Last year's champions may be the best AFL team ever assembled, with Offensive Player of the Year 08 Mark Grieb and Rookie of the Year and the AUT Defensive Player of the Year OS Cfevan Thomas. After losing only one game last season and crushing Arizona in Arena8owl XVI. San Jose must be considered the odds-on favorite for 2003. Arizona Rattlers (11-3)- Last year's Arena Bowl runner·up faces atough off-season as many key players become free agents. Luckily the team moved Quickly to sign Head Coach Danny White to a multi-year contract. Having Coach White back will go along way toward stabilizing the situation inArizona. Los Angeles Avengers (8-G) After clinching aplayoff berth early last year, the Avengers disappoint· ed in the playoffs. The team will need strong regular season efforts from "lronman of the Year" WMB Greg Hopkins and 08 Tony Grauiani.

Rush team that came within one game of Arena8owl XVI needs to continue to improve after an impressive year by 08 Billy Dickens and asolid defense. Grand Rapids Rampage (8-G)Just 2years removed from their championship, the Rampage remain adangerous team even in the league's smallest market. Anything less than areturn to the ArenaBowl will be adisappointment. Indiana Flreblrds (7-7) Indiana must find away to play consistently and stay away from the injury bug that plagued them last season. Indiana also faces signing key free-agents in the off-season, including "Built-ford· Tough" Man of the Year f8/L8 Leroy Thompson. Dallas Desperados 0·7) Last year's poster team for NFL involvement (owned by Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones) and expansion (led the league with an average attendance over 13,000), the Desperadosmade the playoffs in their first year and hope to improve further under Coach Joe Avezzano.

New Jersey needs to get another great performance from 08 Jay McDonough, who beat out ex-Nfl OB Glen foley early last year, in order to repeat as Conference Champions. BuHalo Destroyers (G-8) Coach Ray Bentley has stepped down as head coach after the team lost their last four games after apromising start. Pressure is on to find away to improve.

Colorado Crush (expanslon)-

John Elway's first foray into team ownership enters the league this year hoping to overcome the expansion team label in the toughest division in indoor football.

.,.. SaberCats celebrate. San Jose's Compaq Center- ArenaBowt XVI.

Orlando finished strong, making the playoffs in week 14 and reaching thesemi-finals before losing to San Jose. Much of next year's success restson whether last year's starting OB Jay Gruden returns from his off-season responsibilities with his brother'sTampa Ray Buccaneers as quarterback coach. Tampa Bay Storm (G-8) The Storm needed some help to New York Dragons (3-11 ) make the playoffs last year. The Dragons pin their 08 hopes on Despite slipping into the playoffs Walter Church, aChristian player on tie-breakers. Tampa Bay who led his team to the Arena reached the second round ol the football21eague title in 2002. playoffs and looksto improve next Detroit Fury (1-11) - After year after alosing season in 2002. losing 11 straight games to end Caronna Cobras (G-8) the season and saying good-bye to The Cobras, who will move from coach Mouse Davis. the fury need Raleigh to Charlotte next year, to improve on both sides of the ball. need to find talent to surround OB fred McNair and team MVP OS ~ Aaron Bailey. free agent moves ~ will play abig part of their improvement in the off-season. q Georgia Force (G-8) - The ~~ttl!~ ~ force's move to astate-of-the-art arena in the north suburbs of Atlanta will offer fans one of the best Afl experiences in the league. The team will need to get better to match their surroundings if they hope to make the playoffs next year.

!

ARENA BOWL CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS I II Ill IV V VI VII VIII

Denver Dynamite def. Pittsburgh Gladiators (45·161 Detroit Drive def. Chicago Bruisers (24·131 Detroit Drive def. Pittsburgh Gladiators (39-261 Detroit Drive def. Dallas Texans (51·271 Tampa Bay Storm def. Detroit Drive (48-421 Detroit Drive def. Orlando Predators (56-381 Tampa Bay Storm def. Detroit Drive (51-311 Arizona Rattlers def. Orlando Predators (36-31 I

IX Tampa Bay Storm def. Orlando Predators (48-351 X Tampa Bay Storm def. Iowa Barnstormers (46-381 XI Arizona Rattlers def. Iowa Barnstormers (55·331 XII Orlando Predators def. Tampa Bay Storm (62·31 I XIII Albany Firebirds def. Orlando Predators (59-481 XIV Orlando Predators def. Nashville Kats (41-381 XV Grand Rapids Rampage def. Nashville Kats (64-421 XVI San Jose SaberCats def. Arizona Rattlers (52-141

FINDING THE AFL ON THE NET

www.Arenafootball.com - the official site of the AFL. News, stories, stats and season info for the whole league. Message boards and Lin ks to official t eam sites as well. www.Arenafan.com - Original content and game coverage as well as links to AFL stori es from around the web. The site also offers fantasy AFL football and its own message boards. www.AFLroundhouse.com - The AFL Round House was created for the sole purpose of providing statistics of players and teams from the past and present AFL teams.

SPORTS SPECTRUM COVERS ALl TH E SP ORTS . WEBSIT E: http: //www.spor t.or g

SPORTS SPECTRUM - JANU ARY - FEBRUAR Y 2003

2 9


'I 1

~egends ~

NFL Football 1974-1983 rian Sipe, the Cleveland Browns' aUtime leading passer, certainly has the pedigree for being a classic overachiever. Although he led the NCAA in passing at San Diego State in 1971, Sipe was more or less a bottom-feeder on NFL draft boards when the 1972 draft rolled around. Scouts questioned his arm strength and wondered if his 6-1, 195-pound body could take NFLtype punishment. The Browns selected Sipe in the 13th round, and unfortunately for Cleveland, the Mel Kipers of that era seemed to have Sipe pegged. Sipe spent his first two seasons on Cleveland's taxi squad. Meanwhile, his passion for the game was locked somewhere in the glove compartment, as was his outlook on life. "I didn't take my opportunity to play in the NFL very seriously," says Sipe. "Life was a big, selfish adventure. At most I thought I'd have a couple of years as a third -string quarterback in the NFL. I thought it would be a great party, then I'd move on." The meter kept running until Sipe grew weary of just being along for the ride. "I realized that I was better than the guys that were playing in front of me," he says. "It also occurred to me that never again in my life would I have a chance to compete with the

Stats Glance • Born: August 8, 1949 in San Diego • Led NFL in touchdown passes in 1979 (28) and in QB rating in 1980 (91.4) • Played in 125 games for the Browns • Narned NFL MVP in 1980 • Played in the 1981 Pro Bowl 30

Bq Mike Sandrolini

an audible. "I lied to him in order to do the christening," he admits. "The caterer had already been hired." Brian and Geri began to attend a Bible study for couples after Nolan's christening. Sipe first viewed going to the study as atonement for not being up front with his pastor. "That was my llllllfiiLJ~ tradeoff. [For] every bad thing I did, I did two good things," he says. "But throughout that Bible study, God really started to work on me. I came to the conclusion that the Bible was the truth, and I had to do something about it." What he did was to trust Jesus as his Savior. These days, Sipe and his family live in Del Mar, California. He runs his own residential home design and real estate firm, and he is head football coach at Santa Fe Christian High School. In 2001, Sipe guided Santa Fe to an unde• A very good year. In 1980, Sipe led the Browns to an 11-5 record on the strength of hitting 337 of 554 passes for 4,132 yards and 30 feated record (12-0). The Eagles touchdowns. Sipe had four seasons with more than 3,000 yards. also enjoyed another successful campaign this past season. very best athletes in the world at States Football League (USFL). Interestingly, Sipe says he didn't anything. I was determined not to Yet Sipe doesn't necessarily see set out to become the Eagles' head blow that opportunity." himself as an overachiever. "Closer coach. He initially agreed to help Once Sipe cracked the to the truth, I was probably under- coach the team's quarterbacks 2 Browns' starting lineup, estimated," he says. "God gifted years ago, but did so reluctantly. he'd never be a backup me as an athlete. [But] I relished "When I retired in 1985, I made again. Even though the role as an underdog and an up my mind to put football the Browns endured overachiever. I'm okay with that." behind me and find out what God some heartbreaking During his final season of pro had in store for me," he says. "But playoff losses dur- football with the Generals, Sipe and after I got around the players and ing the late 1970s his wife, Geri, began attending saw how much it meant to them, and early 1980s, they church, at Geri's urging. Again, Sipe I thought maybe my experience became known as the was just going along for the ride. could be of greater benefit than "Kardiac Kids" for their clutch "I had been raised going to what I could consider before." play at crunch time. And leading church, but I bailed out on that Now Sipe wouldn't trade coachthe charge was Sipe, who deal when I was in high school." ing for anything. "I feel a tremenemerged as one of the NFI.:s big- he says. "Geri thought it would be dous responsibility doing this, play quarterbacks. good for us to start going to blending my faith with my talRecently inducted into the church as a family." ents," he says. "I sometimes feel a Browns' Hall of Fame to honor his However, when Sipe asked the greater responsibility now as a team records for passing yardage church's pastor to conduct a chris- head coach than I did as a player (23.713), touchdowns (154), com- tening for his infant son, Nolan, in the NFL because I represent pletions (1,944) and attempts the pastor challenged Sipe on the something far greater than myself (3.439), Sipe left the Browns in condition of his faith. now." 1984 and played one season for Sipe was good at reading the Donald Trump-owned New defenses as a quarterback. But this Mike Sandrolini is a freelance wn'ter Jersey Generals of the United time, he couldn't call a time out or who lives in Naperville, fllinois. PHOTO COUATESY: S ANTA FE CHRI STIAN SCHOOlS

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Straight Talk With ...

• • • •

GUARD, DALLAS MAVERICKS WINNER, NBA SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD, 1998 MEMBER, NBA CHAMPION SAN ANTONIO SPURS, 1999 HOLDS SPURS RECORD FOR MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES PLAYED (296)

lot of Christians talk about their lives being empty before they came to Christ, but my life wasn't necessarily that way. I was playing for the Seattle Supersonics at the time, and I was having a lot of fun on and off the court. I was really one of the "best" sinners. Maybe deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong, but it didn't seem to bother me. In fact, if you looked at my life, you would have thought I was a pretty good guy, because even though I was doing some things that I shouldn't have been doing, I always tried to carry myself in a professional way. But I just wasn't complete. It's funny, because I had grown up in the church and had been in the church all my life. I knew some Scriptures, I believed in God, and I was attending church occasionally and all that. But I had never really made a commitment to Jesus Christ. I always seemed to know what to say at the right time and give what seemed to be some pretty good spiritual answers to religious questions. I would go to chapels in the NBA, and people would get the feeling that I was a pretty good guy. But God knew that my heart wasn't 100 percent right with Him. Then, after a long night of drinking in July 1989, all that changed. I had been out all Saturday night, drinking at a bar in New Orleans. I woke up the next morning about 10:15 and I had no idea how I had gotten home. I hadn't planned on going to church that morning, but then I got a touch on the shoulder and something seemed to be telling me that I needed to go to church. So I went to Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Church in New Orleans. Bishop Paul S. Martin preached a message that morning about being fully committed to Christ. I don't know how else to explain it except to say that I suddenly felt the call to truly trust Christ. I had one foot in and one foot out. You're either hot or you're cold, and I wanted to be hot. That day I decided that I wanted to be different. I wanted to put my faith in Jesus once and for all. You know, I've been on that journey for 13 years now, and I can honestly say that it's the best decision I ever made. I don't want you to get the impression that I suddenly changed all my bad habits overnight. After I accepted Christ on that day in July 1989, I really started to feel bad because I was still making some of the same old mistakes that I had made as a nonChristian. I didn't realize it was going to be an on-going process. It was disappointing in the beginning, even though it was exciting, because I still would have bad thoughts and do things that I shouldn't do. I was a little sur-

prised because I just thought all of that stuff would just go automatically away. But then someone shared with me that I was made perfect through the blood of Christ, not made perfect through my actions. Christ said that if you sin, He will forgive you if you confess your sins (1 John 1:9), and I have taken a lot of comfort in that over the years. God doesn't want you to have one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom of Christ. He wants you to have both feet in the Kingdom, and He wants you to be on fire for Him. Once I put both feet in and became sold out to Christ, my life began to change dramatically for the better. Yours can too.

Avery got an assist on this article from Jim Gibbs, a writer who lives in the Dallas area.

l(now For Sure! Hove you ever wondered if you hove what Avety has? Do you know for sure that you are o Christian? Ask for the free RBC booklet The Assurance of Salvation. To get a copy, write to Sports Spectrum Booklet, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Ask for the booklet by title and this number: 00601. Or read it online at www.discoveryseries.org/q0601.


Give it away! â&#x20AC;˘ We don't maJce dust collectors. Although we try to produce a magazine that's classy enough for you to display proudly on your coffee table, we hope you don't keep it there. After you've read it, enjoyed it, thought about it, and pored over it, we wouldn't mind if you gave it away. Sure, Sports Spectrum looks nice, but it's not a family heirloom or anything. We'd hate to think it would eventually end up iri a stack on the attic floor-or worse, thrown out! It would do a lot more good if it found its way into the hands of a neighbor or onto the magazine rack at the doctor's office or onto the shelf in the church library.

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So, can we make a suggestion? Look for someone who might not be familiar with Sports Spectrum but who might love sports. Someone who needs to know about the spiritual side of today's athletes. We fill each issue with timeless articles about well-known sports figures such as baseball's Lance Berkman, pro basketball's David Robinson, hockey's Markus Naslund, football's Kurt Warner; plus a bunch of other a thletes who put Jesus Chri st first in their lives. We present the positive side of sports-the people who are doing good for others. Don't keep Sports Spectrum to yourself!

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