NFL Closeup — Nick Foles

FolesSpreadIt’s been a bit of a roller coaster in Philadelphia this season for Nick Foles, but once he established himself as the Eagles’ starter, it’s been a ride he’s enjoyed.

After starting quarterback Michael Vick was sidelined with an injury, Foles took over until he was injured, as well. Vick was injured again and the seeming merry-go-round continued.

But the last time Foles took over, things began to click.

Since getting his first start on Oct. 13, a 31-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth game of the season, he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

During his third start this season, a 49-20 victory against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 3, Foles passed for 406 yards and tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes.

A month later, on Dec. 8 in the snow (left), despite passing for only 179 yards and one touchdown, the Eagles beat Detroit 34-20. Even though the statistics weren’t as impressive as the Nov. 3 game, he kept the Eagles in the hunt for the division title.

“I knew the good Lord was going to guide me and give me the strength to heal and get back on the right path,” said Foles during an interview with Philadelphia’s SportsRadio 94 WIP concerning his first injury.

That injury came during a 17-3 loss to Dallas on Oct. 20, and also knocked him out of the following game.

“My mom was out here for the game and my little sister. So they were able to stay with me. I’m very thankful to have a great mom to help me get better…I just rested and got some home cooking and the good Lord healed me.”

His next game was the 406-yard, seven-touchdown effort.

“I’m a Christian and I believe in God,” Foles told the radio show. “…and when you do great, you stay humble and you give Him glory.”

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine.

Airing It Out — Let your actions speak

Texas A&M Spring Football Game“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

Johnny Manziel, you don’t have to point fingers and brag.

You’re good enough, I promise.

You don’t have to prove it to a defender or remind them how good you are by yelling and pointing at them after running and passing the ball over them into the end zone.

You’re accomplished. Everyone knows it. Heck, you won the Heisman Trophy, the game’s and media’s acknowledgement of how great you are. And you won it as a freshman – the first time that ever happened. How much more accomplished can you be in college football?

Everyone knows how great you are. Stop telling them. You don’t need to do that.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, future Hall of Famers and two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in history, they don’t say anything because, like you, people already know how good they are. Their play, like yours, is enough to convince even the most casual viewer. And even though they don’t run after a player and jaw with them, all the players, and fans, know how great they are.

Why? Because greatness doesn’t need a megaphone. It just needs to be observed.

Observe how Brady calmly goes about his business. Down seven in the fourth quarter with less than 3 minutes to play? No problem. Interception? No problem. He got the ball back at his own 30 with 1:13 to play and guided his team to a touchdown with 5 seconds left and an improbable 30-27 victory against New Orleans on Oct. 13. Calm, cool, and no screaming and pointing at the opposing team telling them he’s the best. They know. They just experienced it firsthand.

Manning? He might not look as calm (watch his head and feet late in the game), but he still lets his play do the talking. He may be yelling, but it’s so his team can hear him changing the plays at the line of scrimmage. Trailing in the fourth quarter? No problem. His Denver Broncos trailed the Dallas Cowboys twice and were tied twice in the fourth quarter of a shootout on Oct. 6. With 1:57 to play, he did what everyone in the stadium (and everyone watching on TV) knew he could (and probably would) do; he guided his team down the field, set the Broncos in position for a field goal, and Denver won 51-48.

Manning’s stats were great (414 yards and 4 TDs passing and 1 TD rushing), but he didn’t run down the sideline, his pointer finger in the other teams’ face, and yelling at them, so they would know how great he played that day. They already knew his greatness… before, during and after the game.

It’s a reminder that being humble is okay. People won’t overlook you or forget about you. They’ll remember how great you are and also view you in a positive light as a person.

As Proverbs 27:2 implies, people already know if you’re great and they’ll tell others about your talents. Consider Jesus, even. When Pilate asked him to prove he was the Savior to humanity, Jesus found no need to flaunt his divinity, though He could have.  Jesus found no need to convince Pilate He was great because His greatness had already been displayed to thousands. If Pilate didn’t believe it, it was his own lack of faith that fueled his unbelief. Jesus’s entire ministry—His actions, His words, His miracles—proved His greatness.

Johnny, you need only let your actions speak for you.

I promise.

By Brett Honeycutt

This column was published in the November 2013 DigiMagBrett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. His column addresses topics from a biblical perspective. Follow him on Twitter-@Brett_Honeycutt

NFL Closeup: Josh McCown

San Diego Chargers  v Chicago Bears

From the backup quarterback in the NFL to high school quarterbacks coach to starting quarterback in the NFL, Josh McCown has taken the unconventional route back to pro football.

But he was ready for whatever God had for him.

“There are paths that cross in your life that are out there; you don’t even know they are coming,” he said in a My Story video by the ministry, The Increase. “What are you going to do when you get them? And are you going to join God in His mission or are you just going to miss or are you going to be so consumed with what (you have) going on that (you) miss what you can do with Him?”

McCown’s career  began in 2002 with the Arizona Cardinals, but he has never played a full season. After getting in only two games in 2008 and one game in 2009 (both seasons with the Carolina Panthers), he played in the United Football League in 2010 with the Hartford Colonials and had the league’s highest passer rating.

No NFL team came calling, though.

“My prayer and my desire was to be in the locker room, so I go through that whole offseason and, again, the phone doesn’t ring,” McCown said in the My Story video. “So, I said, you know what, I’ve got to do something besides sit on my hands and wait; I need to get out there and serve.”

He volunteered to coach quarterbacks at Marvin Ridge High School, just outside of Charlotte, N.C.

“That was one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever had,” he said of his time there in 2011 and 2012.

Just after the 2011 high school season ended in a playoff run in November, Chicago called McCown because of an injury to starter Jay Cutler.

McCown played three games near the end of that season, but returned to Marvin Ridge to coach quarterbacks in 2012 after being cut again.

Once again, Chicago called in November and signed McCown as a backup because of another injury to Cutler. Although McCown didn’t play that season, he started this season as a backup with Chicago and took over the starting job about midway through this season because of another injury to Cutler.

“We get scarred and we get hurt because what we expected did not happen,” McCown said. “When I sit in my quiet moments, I say I want to please God, my heart is to please God, and there’s gotta be faith involved, and there’s gotta be things and elements in my life where I can’t see what’s coming next. If anything, it has encouraged me to push myself in those moments as much as I can.”

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine. This story was published in the November 2013 DigiMag.

Airing It Out — Sharing our hope

(Originally published in Sports Spectrum’s April 2013 DigiMag)

We heard the same sermon twice on the Wednesday night we went to West Monroe, La.—and both were unexpected.

We had just finished our interview with Miss Kay, Al, Willie and Phil Robertson, cast from the popular TV show, Duck Dynasty. It was interesting listening to Phil talk about sex and relationships, Willie talk about his early days when he and his wife, Korie, ran a Christian camp, Al add nuggets to almost every story, and Miss Kay laugh and talk honestly about her relationship with Phil in the early days (it was tough) and how God had brought each of them to Christ.

It was as if we were part of the Duck Dynasty TV show. Why? Because what we had seen on TV, is what we saw in person. It was refreshing and also spiritually uplifting because their deep faith was evident as they talked about how they viewed the show as a platform to share their faith—and, as I learned, sharing their faith is what they’re about.

After we were finished, Miss Kay invited us to church. I was already looking forward to going (Al had already invited us earlier when we were setting up the interview).

I was excited because I enjoy going to church, but I was really excited because they invited us and because of what I knew about the Robertsons’ faith (and had also just experienced); my thought was since they’re strong spiritually, then their church, White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, must be strong, as well.

But the idea of going to church was made even better because they invited us. It was personal. It showed they cared. They wanted us to be there, and we wanted to be there.

We were running a little behind because the Robertsons were gracious enough to give us more time to ask questions. We really just listened and watched them interact like they do on TV.

Because of that, we came in to the service near the beginning. There were a hundred or two hundred people there, including all of the Robertsons (we sat behind Jep and his wife, Jessica, and Justin Martin).

The songs we sang and listened to were a cappella and familiar because I had heard them on my first mission trip with Athletes in Action in 1992 (I later bought tapes of those songs and have enjoyed them for years). The songs brought back great memories, but more than that they reminded me of who God is, what He had and has done for us, and they were leading me to worship Him.

I began to wonder if the sermon would be as good. It was faulty thinking because God is always present when His Word is opened and shared, but that was what was going through my mind.

The pastor, Mike Kellett, came up to preach. The sermon was based on I Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

He talked about “The Hopeful Community” and sharing our faith. But instead of saying “sharing our faith,” he appropriately said, “sharing our hope.”

He talked about the false narrative that only certain people can share their faith and listed reasons people think this: I am not good at it; I am embarrassed to try; I am afraid I will offend someone; I feel like a hypocrite because I am not perfect; I am afraid they will reject me; I am not educated enough.

But he reminded us that the true narrative was that all Christians share their faith, and he reminded us of “The Story That Inspires Hope”—Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and return.

And then he talked about “Hope in Action,” referencing Romans 12:10-18 and II Corinthians 2:15, and “Hope in Words,” referencing I Peter 3:15-16.

He concluded by encouraging each of us to pray, watch, reach out, listen, connect, share and invite so that we could share the hope that we have because of Christ. He did so much for us and we have so much to look forward to after this life. Why wouldn’t we be excited to tell others?

I knew the message had sunk in, not because I thought or felt it had, but because it was already being lived out in the members of the church. It’s exactly what the Robertsons have been doing with their lives—sharing their hope with excitement and immediacy to a world in desperate need of hearing something that is truly life-changing.

I walked away encouraged, hopeful, and thinking that we had just gotten out of one church service (our interview with the Robertsons, who talked about sharing their faith) and went into another one (at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, which talked about sharing our faith).

It is the type of hope we all should desire to spread.

By Brett Honeycutt

This column was published in the April 2013, All-Duck Dynasty DigiMagBrett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. His column addresses topics from a biblical perspective. Follow him on Twitter-@Brett_Honeycutt

Devotional of the Week — Tony Romo’s Greatest Success

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys

“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” II Peter 3:17-18

Tony Romo has undergone a spiritual transformation the last few years (which we talk about on pages 40-43 of our most recent print issue). During that time, he has been mentored by godly men, gotten married, become a father and has seen what’s most important in life.

“One thing as I grow into a husband is being a spiritual leader of my family, my wife and the people I surround myself with,” Romo told Sports Spectrum. “I heard John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach for all those years, once said success is peace of mind. For me, my greatest peace of mind, my greatest success, you might say, is when I walk the spiritual journey, when I’m a spiritual leader to my family and the people I’m around. That’s what I’m striving for, and that’s where I hope to continue to go and grow.”

Romo gets it. His lofty ambitions aren’t success in the world’s eyes, but success in God’s eyes. Having experienced success, he realizes that all the things the world chases after are empty, unless your focus is on your relationship with Christ.

Grow in your walk with God and sense the reality, peace, and fulfillment of a God-focused life.

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Devotional of the Week — Christ Reflector

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“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

Fresno State quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Derek Carr said his faith in Christ was the No. 1 thing in his life. “You can ask anyone who knows me, that’s the first thing they should tell you, and if they don’t, then I’m not doing the right thing,” he said. “Derek Carr is not the Fresno State quarterback. First of all, he’s a Christian and then he’s the Fresno State quarterback; that is what’s the most important thing to me, to be noticed as a Christian first and a quarterback second.”

In a way, it echoes what John the Baptist said about himself in John 3:30 when Jesus began His ministry. “He must become greater; I must become less.”

When Derek Carr says he wants to be known as a Christian first and then to be known for his abilities as a football player second, he wants people to see Christ in him and through his life before they see him as a quarterback. Christ must be first, or greater, and Derek Carr and his abilities must be second—a far second—and he must decrease.

It’s a reminder that the some of the most important things in the world’s eyes (sports and fame) are not the most important things in God’s eyes. If you’re a believer and people look to you and only see you and the abilities God gave you without seeing God, then they’ll miss God. Our lives shouldn’t overshadow God and what He is doing. Our lives should reflect Christ and point people to Him.

Live your life in such a way that when they look at you they’ll see God. As Derek Carr says, if they don’t then you’re “not doing the right thing.”

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Giving A Way Of Life

Nicole Jennings SpreadTo whom much is given, much is required.

Nicole Jennings says those words with a deep passion, referencing Luke 12:48, which is also the motto for the Greg Jennings Foundation.

She lives that Scripture out on a daily basis, whether it’s running her husband’s foundation, taking care of the couple’s four children, or lending support and a voice to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission’s “Building Hope for the Future”—a $7.8 million campaign that will build a new shelter to serve 290 homeless women and children in Kalamazoo County, Mich.

Her voice isn’t one merely of a pro athlete’s wife (her husband Greg is an eight-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl selection who has won a Super Bowl), it’s a voice of someone who has lived through the struggles of a person in need.

“I was in their shoes and I had someone come in and help me and get me out of that situation,” says Nicole. “I feel like I’ve been blessed with so much and my response is to really bless/help others. How dare I be in that situation (to help people) and have such a success story and then to come out on the proverbial top and not give back does not make much sense. That’s the thing that motivates me and keeps me going.”

Nicole Jennings was a child when she and her mother had to spend several nights at Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter in the town the couple grew up.

“At the time when my mother and I had to stay there, we didn’t have any place else to go. If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t have had a place to lay our heads at night.

“Because of the history I have with the center, I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community, to the actual mission,” says Nicole, who earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2006 from Western Michigan and is currently pursuing a master’s degree.

“While I don’t remember much, the fact that I was a resident (at the mission) created an important perspective on life for me. To have the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission as part of my history taught me that people care and that it is possible to make a real difference in another persons’ life. When I go into a mission or shelter that serves women and children, I feel a real connection, like I am part of them and they are part of me.”

She and her husband both grew up in the community and graduated from Kalamazoo Central High, so their love for the area runs deep.

“This project means a lot to the Kalamazoo community, I’m glad that my wife is a part of such a great endeavor,” says Greg, who is in his first year with the Minnesota Vikings after spending his first seven with the Green Bay Packers, a team he won Super Bowl XLV with in 2011 when the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25. “I’m proud of all my wife’s many projects. She’s very active in the communities we call home.”

Greg’s support for his wife and her heart for giving goes beyond words, though. When he’s playing, his focus is on his job as an NFL player and she is supporting him. When his season is finished, the focus goes on his wife and her endeavors.

Nicole Jennings Spread 2

“He’s great. He’s awesome, especially during the offseason,” says Nicole, when asked if Greg helps her. “He always says that it’s my ‘on’ season.”

The couple’s driving force to reach out to people who may or may not have similar stories to Nicole’s, comes back to their faith, which is more than a catchy motto based in Scripture.

“It is who we are,” Nicole says. “It’s not necessarily a role that it plays. It’s our lives. It’s just something we call on and get our strength from. It’s just a way of life.

“It’s important for our kids to also realize that it’s not something we talk about, it’s something that we live and that’s what helps us get through every day.”

Nicole’s only objective isn’t to help raise funds for the project, but also to inspire others to get involved.

“I am hoping this story will not only encourage people to give to this mission, but also inspire everyone to live lives of service to others. Our communities and country face many challenges but each of us has the capacity to do something special in our families, neighborhoods, communities and beyond,” she says.

“People ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ It’s not about the fame, it’s not about the accolades, it’s not about these interviews. I do it and I don’t care who knows if I do it. It’s just something I know I need to do, because I feel like it’s required of me.”

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor for Sports Spectrum magazine.

Airing It Out — Freely pardoned

UCLA v Nebraska

On Nov. 14, the Nebraska Board of Pardons will decide whether to pardon former Heisman Trophy winner and University of Nebraska great Johnny Rodgers for a felony he committed in 1970 at the end of his freshman year.

Rodgers, who was convicted the following year, along with two others, of grand larceny (stealing $91 from a Lincoln, Neb., gas station), told the World Herald in Omaha that the reason he is asking for the pardon is that “It’s something that’s hanging out there.”

The crime impacted him little on the field; two years later he won the Heisman Trophy and he left Nebraska holding numerous records (he still owns more than 40 school records today).

Rodgers is now 62 years old, and nearly 43 years has passed since the crime, which he was given two years of probation for committing. He was also ordered to pay back the money he stole as well as court costs.

I could make a case for granting him the pardon on the basis that a court document said that the crime was committed without threats, use of force or violence.

But I won’t.

I could make a case for granting him the pardon on the basis that, when he was discharged from probation two years later, a probation release order signed by a judge stated that his civil rights were “restored the same as though a pardon had been issued.”

But I won’t do that, either.

This column isn’t about whether or not to pardon Johnny Rodgers, mainly because I don’t know all the facts, I don’t know Johnny Rodgers’ heart (only God does), and I don’t know much other than what media outlets have reported (as we’ve found out, that’s not very reliable, either).

This column is about you and me, and really anyone, and how God handles pardons.

Famous theologian Jonathan Edwards, considered one of America’s greatest intellectuals, once preached a sermon, “Pardon For the Greatest Sinners,” based on Psalm 25:11, which says, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great.”

Edwards pointed out these things about David’s cry for help: David asked God for help, not anyone else; David confessed his transgression; David told God that it was too much to bear.

Notice that David didn’t cite his past goodness or that he didn’t promise to do better the next time. He was humbled and merely told God that he couldn’t bear the burden any longer, and in doing so he, in essence, admitted that only God could pardon him.

David couldn’t wish the burden away or close his eyes and ignore the burden so that he would feel better. Taking away the burden could only be lifted if he went to God, confessed his sin, asked for God’s help and admitted that it was too great for him to bear.

God character in similar situations is confirmed in Isaiah 55:7, which says, “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

We have to turn away from our sin, turn to the Lord, and then He will pardon.

Although a board will decide if Johnny Rodgers should be pardoned from his past sin, we don’t have to rely on fallible humans to decide whether we’re pardoned from our wrongs. God, who is righteous, just, merciful, and forgiving, will decide. He can look at our hearts, and if we repent (or turn away), turn to Him and admit that we can’t carry the burden, He will freely pardon us.

It’s a reminder that human involvement can make things go away on paper, but God is the only one who can carry our burdens and give us true freedom from our sin.

By Brett Honeycutt

This column was published in the October 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. His column addresses topics from a biblical perspective. Follow him on Twitter-@Brett_Honeycutt

Back to Fresno

DerekCarrStoryThe phone rang. It was sometime in 2008 and Pat Hill, then Fresno State’s football coach, was calling to see how David Carr, the oldest of son of Rodger and Sheryl Carr, was doing.

David was a former Fresno State record-setting quarterback who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft by the expansion Houston Texans and was featured on the cover of Sports Spectrum that year.

Carr took plenty of hits those first few seasons (from the media and from defenses) and had since left the Texans, playing with the Carolina Panthers for one season before ending up with the New York Giants in a backup role.

Hill was just calling to check up on his former pupil.

After Hill had gotten past the pleasantries and had asked about David, Rodger Carr jokingly asked, “Why haven’t you called Derek?”

Rodger was asking Hill about the Carr’s youngest son, who would end up having a record-setting senior year as quarterback at Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian and had become one of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks after passing for an eye-popping 4,067 yards and 46 touchdowns in only 13 games, while also rushing for 281 yards and five more scores.

Hill laughed and said, “I didn’t think we had a chance of getting him.”

Rodger handed the phone to Derek, who was being recruited by BCS heavyweights Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas Tech, Southern Cal, Arizona, Utah, and Cal.

“He offered me (a scholarship),” Derek recalls. “I remember I didn’t wait long. I called him the next day and committed because that’s what I wanted to do all along.”

Oddly, because Fresno State hadn’t expressed interest, Carr didn’t think he was good enough to play for the Bulldogs, a non-BCS Division I school that plays in the pass-happy but highly respected Mountain West.

“I just really thought I wasn’t good enough or they didn’t think I was good enough,” Carr says. “I didn’t think they wanted me until he called and talked to me.”

Fast forward five years later to 2013.

Some things have changed, but a lot hasn’t.

Hill is no longer the coach (he was let go after a 4-9 season in 2011, only the second losing season for him in the previous 13 years, and replaced by Tim DeRuyter).

Carr married the former Heather Neel on June 29, 2012, and more than 13 months later, on Aug. 5, 2013, the couple had their first child, Dallas Mason Carr, who was named after Derek’s middle name. Dallas weighed 7 pounds, 10.9 ounces.

Being a married college student is easier than if he was single, Carr says.

“Because she keeps me more organized. I’m not the most organized person in the world. Just having her there to be a best friend and really helpmate to myself, it’s so much fun to not worry about getting caught up in this, getting caught up in that,” he says. “I know what I’m going home to; I have my wife and my son, so I know who I’m going home to and I have a stable environment to go home to. I don’t have too many worries that others might have.”

Carr 1676

What hasn’t changed, though, is Carr’s adeptness at quarterback, his unwavering faith and his respect for his brother – one of the reasons he wanted to play at Fresno State.

Carr is once again one of the top quarterbacks in the nation his senior year as he comes off the heels of leading the Mountain West in passing (4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns) and being named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.

He also comes into this season listed on nearly every major watch list for postseason awards like the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien, Maxwell and Walter Camp after compiling 7,648 yards passing and 63 touchdowns the last two seasons.

He only needs 3,048 passing yards to break the school record, which was set in 1986.

More than all the numbers and what he does on the field, his faith is what drives him.

“It’s No. 1,” he says. “It’s the No. 1 thing in my life. You can ask anyone who knows me, that’s the first thing they should tell you, and if they don’t, then I’m not doing the right thing. Derek Carr is not the Fresno State quarterback. First of all, he’s a Christian and then he’s the Fresno State quarterback; that is what’s the most important thing to me, to be noticed as a Christian first and a quarterback second.”

“I know where my talent comes from, and it’s not from my abilities,” Derek says. “I know where it comes from and He can take it away in a second.”

His focus on his faith is helped by having a brother like David, who Derek looks up to and who plays the same position. David, now in his second stint with the New York Giants after spending 2008 and 2009 with them and then 2010 with the San Francisco 49ers, has been a guiding influence on and off the field.

“David is so intelligent when it comes to our faith,” Derek says. “He’s given me some of the best advice that sticks with me all the time, some funny and some serious. On the field, off the field, the first thing he ever told me was, ‘Don’t be an idiot. On the field, don’t be an idiot, don’t force stupid passes, have a reason for what you’re doing. And off the field, don’t be an idiot, and that one’s self-explanatory.’”

It’s basic, simple, yet blunt and needed, especially in today’s culture.

Derek also says that David gave him another “great piece of advice that always sticks with me” and has helped him endure the praise and the undue criticism of playing one of the most-watched positions in big-time college football.

“People are going to say great things about you, people are always going to say bad things about you,” Derek recalls David telling him. “Don’t listen to either of them, because you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. Don’t listen to either of them. Say thank you, be polite and accept it. Be thankful and grateful for it, but at the same time don’t be too high and don’t be too low, because as high as they put you, they can tear you down just as fast. That’s something he’s taught me since I was very little, very young.”

The biggest lesson, though, is remembering the source of his skills. For Derek, it comes back to what’s No. 1 in his life.

“I know where my talent comes from, and it’s not from my abilities,” Derek says. “I know where it comes from and He can take it away in a second.”

His focus on his faith is helped by having a brother like David, who Derek looks up to and who plays the same position. David, now in his second stint with the New York Giants after spending 2008 and 2009 with them and then 2010 with the San Francisco 49ers, has been a guiding influence on and off the field.

“David is so intelligent when it comes to our faith,” Derek says. “He’s given me some of the best advice that sticks with me all the time, some funny and some serious. On the field, off the field, the first thing he ever told me was, ‘Don’t be an idiot. On the field, don’t be an idiot, don’t force stupid passes, have a reason for what you’re doing. And off the field, don’t be an idiot, and that one’s self-explanatory.’”

It’s basic, simple, yet blunt and needed, especially in today’s culture.

Derek also says that David gave him another “great piece of advice that always sticks with me” and has helped him endure the praise and the undue criticism of playing one of the most-watched positions in big-time college football.

“People are going to say great things about you, people are always going to say bad things about you,” Derek recalls David telling him. “Don’t listen to either of them, because you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. Don’t listen to either of them. Say thank you, be polite and accept it. Be thankful and grateful for it, but at the same time don’t be too high and don’t be too low, because as high as they put you, they can tear you down just as fast. That’s something he’s taught me since I was very little, very young.”

The biggest lesson, though, is remembering the source of his skills. For Derek, it comes back to what’s No. 1 in his life. 

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazineThis story was published in the August 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in here to view. Not a subscriber to Sports Spectrum? Subscribe here

Devotional of the Week — Built for Pittsburgh

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15 (ESV)

The success of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, who broke a 20-year losing streak and made the playoffs, began because Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle wanted to make a difference by choosing something other than what people told him to do.

Hurdle recounted his decision to Sports Spectrum in the 2013 Spring issue.

“Everyone told me that I had to go to New York,” recalls Hurdle, who says that people advised him to take that job because of his connection with the Mets as a player and minor league manager. “But every time I woke up, I said Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, I knew that I could make a difference.”

Being a Christian, he wanted to make a difference on and off the field.

He asks men whenever he talks to them, “Are you making a difference? Jesus doesn’t want a finished product. He wants to help you become a finished product. Jesus will help you become a finished product.” The disciples were a work in progress, as evidenced by their lives during Jesus’ ministry. Jesus just wanted someone He could mold, who was willing, so that when He sent them out (as he did in Mark 16:15), they would be ready.

Making a difference doesn’t mean being ready now, but it means being willing to be used. God wants hearts that are willing, not resistant.

By Brett Honeycutt

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

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