Unpackin’ It — Benjamin Watson

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Each week host Bryce Johnson interviews intriguing guests on his syndicated faith and sports radio show “UNPACKIN’ it.” This issue, Bryce is joined by New Orleans Saints’ tight end, Benjamin Watson. He was the 32nd overall pick by the Patriots in 2004 after finishing his college career at Georgia, and won a Super Bowl during his rookie season. He discusses family, faith and football with Bryce on his radio show “UNPACKIN’ it.” You can listen to the full interview here

BRYCE JOHNSON: You had a bye week recently. How do you like to spend your bye weeks?
BENJAMIN WATSON:
Getting a little bit of rest. The NFL season can be tough on the body, so definitely getting some physical, but also some mental rest. It’s always good to get away from the game a little bit and spend some time with the family. I’m married with four little kids, so we all drove over about four hours to the beach and spent some time there.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Nice!
BENJAMIN WATSON:
It’s kind of bonding as a family and making some memories.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What has the experience been like playing for the Saints…at least through this first part of the season?
BENJAMIN WATSON: It’s been kind of what I expected. I have some former teammates who played for the Saints, and told me what a great organization it was with the family atmosphere they have here in New Orleans.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What is your role in the locker room, even off the field—this being your 10th season, being a veteran in the NFL, having been on successful teams and struggling teams, as well, and even comparing it back to when you first got into the NFL?
BENJAMIN WATSON:  Off the field and in the locker room is just as important, I think, as what you do on the field. And that’s one of the things that we prayed about a lot when we were free agents in Cleveland and didn’t know what was going to happen—we didn’t know where God was going to lead us to. It happened to be New Orleans, and it was very clear that this was where we were supposed to move our family. We moved down here and we really feel like our role and purpose in being here is not just to play football, but to minister in the locker room and also be involved in the community of New Orleans and serve where we can, and tell people about the Lord where we can. Something my wife always says is, “Benjamin, it’s not always about you, and what you want.” God has a way of moving us to where He wants us to be and He expects us to serve Him where we are. So that’s been our approach since we’ve been in New Orleans.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Take us back to where your faith began, and share a little bit about your relationship with Jesus.
BENJAMIN WATSON: At 5 or 6 years old, my father and I knelt down by my bed and I repented of my sins, and put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior to forgive me of my sin debt that I couldn’t pay. I got saved at a very young age and I knew what I was doing, and the Holy Spirit came in and I’ve been a Christian ever since. That’s not to say that I haven’t done some things that I’m not proud of and haven’t had certain struggles. But being a Christian athlete gives me purpose and clarity, and honestly it puts things into perspective. In the NFL there are a lot of ups and downs, and there are a lot of different temptations that all men face, not just in the NFL. But that’s my anchor. That gives me the proper perspective, and in those times when I’m out of whack, I always know what the base line is…I always know I need to come back to Scripture because that’s the solid foundation.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the October 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Bryce is the host of the “Unpackin’ It” faith and sports podcast. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

Unpackin’ It — Colt McCoy

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Bryce is joined by former star quarterback at Texas, and current backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colt McCoy. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2010, McCoy was traded in April to the 49ers. He has also co-authored a new book called, The Real Win: A Man’s Quest for Authentic Success. Listen as Colt McCoy candidly unpacks his life. Click here to listen to Bryce’s full interview with Colt McCoy

BRYCE JOHNSON: I’m sure San Francisco is a little bit different than Cleveland, huh?
COLT MCCOY:
Yeah, a little bit different. The weather is different, the climate is different. I enjoyed my time in Cleveland, there in Ohio, but God has new plans for me now, and I’m really enjoying getting to know my new teammates and my new coaches, and it’s a new place. So there are lots of positives going on right now.

BRYCE JOHNSON: I saw on Twitter that you preached about leaving a legacy. I’m curious what were your main points in that sermon you spoke on?
COLT MCCOY: Yeah, I was fortunate enough Matt Carter—he’s the pastor here at Austin Stone (Community Church)…we wrote the book together (The Real Win)…he’s an unbelievable guy, unbelievable preacher, and he’s done so much for me, and he asked me to come and do a sermon on legacy. The first thing that came to my mind was what I think about when I think about legacy—that every man is going to leave one, and my point is if we all know that we’re going to leave a legacy, what kind of legacy are we leaving and what kind of legacy would our friends that we’re around every day say that we’re leaving? What kind of legacy would my wife say that I’m leaving? When I thought of it, you know I’m kind of young in life—I still consider myself young—I’m 25, but I know each and every day that I’m building a legacy. What am I building? What am I leaving to the people I’m around? A lot of time when we think about legacy, we think about what we’re doing in life, how we’re going to set up our business, how we’re going to have a successful golf game, you know, have a big fat 401-K. We’ve got a lot of these things, these roaming material things on our minds, but at the end of the day is that really going to matter? At the end of the day what is going to really matter is what you’ve done in this life for Jesus.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Amen!
COLT MCCOY: 
That’s really the point I wanted to get across in that message, so I think it went well.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Has being an NFL quarterback been everything that you thought it would be?
COLT MCCOY: Man, there are so many ups and downs and bumps along the way, but you know it’s a challenge every day. I still try to make myself enjoy football. I loved playing it at a very young age, and now that it’s your work, and it’s your business, and it’s your career, sometimes that kind of gets washed up. Sometimes you make it more than what it really is, and for me I just try to enjoy it every day. I work hard, I compete, I’m a very competitive person, but I still love the game, and I’m going to keep playing it as long as I can because God has blessed me to be able to do it. You asked me if it’s everything I thought it would be. There’s probably a lot more than I could never imagine, but it’s been good.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the August 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Bryce is the host of the “Unpackin’ It” faith and sports podcast. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

Unpackin’ It — Kirk Cousins

b4np-square-400Today on the show, quarterback Kirk Cousins joins Bryce. He was a star at Michigan State before being drafted in 2012 by the Washington Redskins. He has a new book out called “Game Changer – Faith, Football, and Finding Your Way.” Kirk tells Bryce how his mindset is different going into this season, how his faith grew during his rookie year, and what music he listens to before games. Plus, Kirk shares a couple key chapters in his book about friendships and role models. Click here to listen to Bryce’s full interview with Kirk Cousins.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What has your transition been like from Michigan St. to Washington?
KIRK COUSINS: One of the tough things about the job is the fact that you never really have a permanent home. With the off-season being so long you end up staying quite a bit back where home is, back in Michigan, but then obviously for the season you have to be in Washington and end up doing a lot of traveling for different events. So, I feel like I’m living out of a suitcase more often than not. But that’s part of the job and I’m hoping that I can make Washington home in the near future.’

BRYCE JOHNSON: Last year you were heading into your Rookie season, so how has your mindset changed from last summer to this year going into your second season?
KIRK COUSINS:
Well, last year I was coming in just trying to get a feel for everything. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t quite know how things were run, and now I have a much better understanding. I now understand from an offensive perspective what I need to be doing. Also, from off the field I have a better feel for everything. Just the experience factor going into my year two is going to help me quite a bit. That’s why I’m so excited for year two and hopefully take a step forward from year one.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What areas of your life, and most importantly in your faith, did you grow during that first season in the NFL?
KIRK COUSINS: Because of the nature of being a rookie, it’s your first time out there…you’re in a new part of the country…you’re all by yourself…you have a job where you could easily be cut or traded at anytime, it’s not the most stable career. As a result, you end up looking outside of yourself for help. I found myself looking up quite a bit and on my knees praying – just asking God for guidance and direction. I felt like the Holy Spirit was faithful to me all last season and guided me through what was a very tough transition from college to pros.

BRYCE JOHNSON: You wrote a chapter in your new book (Game Changer) with the title, “Friends are a Big Deal.” Why did you feel led to include a chapter about friends?
KIRK COUSINS: I believe that so much of the time when young people start to drift away from where they should be it’s usually because people around them drag them into things. And also on the flip side, I look at myself and some of the success I’ve been able to have I think a large part of it is simply because of the people I hung around with. And whether by choice or by chance, I was able to hang around with some really good people who steered me in the right direction. So I really believe that who you choose to hang with, especially in the middle school and high school years, are going to really impact the direction that your life takes. I want people to be very conscious of the friends they surround themselves with, and where they choose to spend their time and who they choose to spend that time with, because ultimately the Bible makes it very clear that ‘bad company corrupts good morals’ and your friends are going to affect the way you think and the way you act.”

BRYCE’S BEST

Book: The Ultimate Conversation, Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley’s wisdom and understanding of walking daily with God is so profound and his new book is fantastic.  Prayer is vital to our daily relationship with God, and Charles Stanley provides practical advice and his own experiences on how we can understand the role of prayer even better because we can have an ultimate conversation with the Creator of the universe. I’m always encouraged and challenged after reading one of Charles Stanley’s books, and this one is no different.

Honeymoon spot: Jamaica
I recently got back from my honeymoon in Jamaica, and I had a wonderful time with my new wife. The country is amazing and the people are so nice and easy-going.  They always answer “no problem” and I’ve tried to take that mentality back to my day-to-day life.  I also had a wonderful conversation with a coconut painter who loves Jesus. It’s so much fun to hear how God is working, even while at a resort on the beaches of Jamaica.

Tap Drill: Quick thoughts about faith, sports, life and entertainment
- I’m convinced…the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens will miss the playoffs.
- I’m convinced…Andrew Luck will have the best encore season of all the rookies from last year.
- I’m convinced…the St. Louis Rams will be the most improved team this season.
- I’m convinced…Larry Fitzgerald will have a huge bounce back year with Carson Palmer as his new quarterback.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the August 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Bryce is the host of the “Unpackin’ It” faith and sports podcast. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

Unpackin’ It — Bob Harris

Every week Bryce Johnson is joined on his faith and sports podcast, Unpackin’ It, by inspiring guests to discuss sports, faith and life. Listen to the full audio of all his interviews on unpackinit.com. Below are some highlights from Bryce’s interview with Bob Harris, who spent 45 years in broadcasting and has been the play-by-play voice of the Duke Blue Devils since 1976. The Hall of Fame broadcaster has called more than 1,200 basketball games and 400 football games. 

BRYCE JOHNSON: As someone who is so entrenched with the Duke program, how do you handle it when Duke loses?
BOB HARRIS: Better than I used to, let’s put it that way! But, you know, about the third or fourth year I had the Duke job, I remember we had lost a football game and I was heading home and I was just really grousing about it, and all of a sudden, and I don’t know why, but something just told me, “Bob you get paid the same dollar for a win or a loss. You don’t have to take it so hard.” So I try to keep that in perspective. But, I travel with these kids all the time; I’m with them three or four days a week, sometimes more. I get to know them, I know their parents…so you get attached to people like that, and you want to see them be successful. They’re almost like your kids. You don’t want any harm to come to them; you don’t want to see them have to deal with setbacks. But just like raising your own children, you know those are going to come, and you have to be there to do whatever you can to help them get through it. I’ve even been a little bit of a sounding board sometimes when guys were struggling, and that made me feel really good that they trusted me enough and thought enough of me to include me in their private life.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What is your advice to young broadcasters?
BOB HARRIS: Don’t try to be the next somebody. Be the best “your name” that you can be. Listen to all these other broadcasters, listen to the veterans to see how they do things, what they say, how they describe things, but don’t try to copy me or Jones Angell (UNC), or Gary Hahn (NC State) or Stan Cotten (Wake Forest)…but listen and see how we do it because we’ve got a lot of experience in calling football and basketball games. I think sometimes the younger people get a little bit antsy. They wanna have it happen now, and it’s not going to. You’ve got to pay your dues.

BRYCE JOHNSON: What has your faith journey been like?
BOB HARRIS:  At times it’s been a little bit bumpy, but it’s one of those things that always gets back on the straight and narrow, and I think in these last several years my faith has been strengthened even more because of the way our world is and the way our country is. At times I fear for our country because we have blocked God away from ourselves. The “me generation” is going to wake up and find out it should have been the “He generation” because that’s the only way we’re going to get through this current situation…I’m not one to tell anybody how they should live their lives, but I do know how I’ve tried to live mine, and what I believe in, and the things that I believe in are, in some instances, diametrically opposed to the way a lot of people are living. I pray for them and hope that they see the light and the error of their ways, at least as I see it… You wanna grab them around the neck with your arm and say, “Listen, there’s a better way and I hope before too long you recognize that way.”

BRYCE JOHNSON: Since you have known Coach Mike Krzyzewski for so long, what can you tell us about him?
BOB HARRIS: Well, being with Mike for 33 years now, the one thing that I do know is it doesn’t matter whether you’re a star player on this team or the last guy off the bench or a secretary in the office or the custodian that keeps his office cleaned up or the guy that does his radio broadcast. If you watch him, if you listen to him, if you just observe how he handles situations, you’re going to learn something every time you’re around him. And I think you’re going to be a better person in how you deal with people. I’m not trying to put Mike up on a pedestal or anything, but being as close to him as I have for these 33 years, I know what kind of man he is. I know where he came from, I know a good portion of his family and I know how he thinks about a lot of things. I tell people a lot of times that he is, in my opinion, probably the most misunderstood and under-appreciated person I have ever come in contact with because he does so many things out of the camera eye and out of the sight of other people.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the March 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag and Volume 27, No. 2 print magazine. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Bryce is the host of the “Unpackin’ It” faith and sports podcast. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

Unpackin’ It — Renaldo Wynn

Every week Bryce Johnson is joined on Sports Spectrum’s official podcast, Unpackin’ It, by inspiring guests to discuss sports, faith and life. Listen to the full audio of all his interviews on unpackinit.com. Below are some highlights from Bryce’s interview with Renaldo Wynn, who  played defensive end at Notre Dame and then played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Redskins, Giants, Jaguars and Saints. He currently works for Game Plan for Life, his former coach Joe Gibb’s ministry. 

BRYCE JOHNSON: First, a few questions about your former teams in the news. As a Redskins fan and former player, did you think Robert Griffin III should have stayed in the game despite his injury?
RENALDO WYNN: That first knee buckle that he had, I was like, “Hey they need to take him out. They need to take him out now and just put Kirk Cousins in there and finish the second half”…RG III was neutralized. Being injured, he was not the same RG III…I just felt, even just for himself and his career alone, prolonging his career, this is not just a one-year deal, he is the franchise. When you’re looking at an eight-year commitment, and more than that hopefully, you just don’t want him to put that in jeopardy and end his career. So I just think…the call should have been made. I know RG III is a heck of a competitor and he said countless times on the interview that, “Hey, I felt I could go.” Sometimes it’s not his decision. It’s the coaches’.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Even though Notre Dame lost in the championship, how do you feel about your alma mater moving forward?
RENALDO WYNN: I think every team has their down time, but there are certain teams that sooner or later they’re gonna be back. We’ve had a long down time. I don’t think I’m stretched to say that I think we’ll be right back in the hunt again next year with the talent that we have. We’ve got a young quarterback who has a year under his belt. I think the thing we need to work on is probably depth. We’re really lacking in our depth.

BRYCE JOHNSON: I’d love to hear about your faith and how you came to know Christ. What is your story?
RENALDO WYNN: Everything was football. As a result, my grades really fell because of it. I wasn’t putting the time into my grades and academics when I was at Notre Dame like I was in football, and I was on academic probation. I came to a point where I was on my last leg and about to get kicked out of school, and for the first time in two years when I was at Notre Dame I just got on my knees and humbled myself and prayed and asked God to help me when I was in that valley. He immediately answered my prayers and sent me a wife, and in that same semester I was able to make it out of academic probation and make the Dean’s List. So I give all glory to God, it wasn’t me…I began going to church, but I still didn’t totally commit. It wasn’t until right before I got drafted with Jacksonville that my wife and I totally gave our life to Christ. It was awesome being drafted with Jacksonville and being a part of a team that was Christ-oriented. When I say that, professional sports it’s hard to really witness to guys, but to go on to a team where our leaders Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli and a whole crew of different guys were on fire for the Lord, it made my walk a little easier I guess.

BRYCE JOHNSON: So you have to tell me more about why you prayed for a wife and how God sent you a wife.
RENALDO WYNN: At that time, I was in so many different relationships with so many different women. I was still lonely. There was no fulfillment. The lies had continued to mound up, lie after lie. I told so many lies, I couldn’t even remember the next lie I was telling. The pressure of dealing with different relationships with all the different women had begun to really get to me. I asked God to send me someone that’s for me. I was tired. As a result He sent me my wife. I met her a couple months after that, and then we got married three months later.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Are you serious? Wow!
RENALDO WYNN: In the midst of all the stuff that had happened, I knew this was right. In the midst of all that, God will send you someone, a helpmate…He knows we can’t do things on our own. For me it was my wife. I wanted to change, but I wasn’t doing the things to change. So he had to send me someone. I really believe that…she was that inspiration for me to give it all I had…from there I really believe it was because God sent her to me that I was able to not only stay in school, but make the Dean’s List.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the January 2013 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Bryce is the host of the “Unpackin’ It” faith and sports podcast. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

Unpackin’ it — Pat Williams

Pat Williams, co-founder and senior vice president of the Orlando Magic joined Bryce Johnson on the UNPACKIN’ it radio show to discuss sports, faith and family. Pat is also a motivational speaker and has spent more than 50 years in professional baseball and basketball as a player and executive.

Williams is the author of more than 75 books. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted children from four nations. You can listen to the full interview at www.unpackinit.com

BRYCE JOHNSON: You’ve been involved in the NBA for a long time. Do you still love it, and what’s your overall view of the league right now?
Pat Williams: Bryce, I’m still fascinated by it. This is my 44th year in the National Basketball Association. My first season was 1968, so I’ve seen an awful lot of change, and I’ve seen an enormous amount of growth. The internationalization of the game has been spectacular…and, yes…the games are still intriguing to me, the athletes are still intriguing…I follow what’s going on with each team very closely. I still root extra hard for our Magic here in Orlando. I’m just riveted by the sport…The game has never been played under a more glaring spotlight.

BRYCE JOHNSON:   What has God been teaching you recently?
Pat Williams: Well, the most recent teaching comes through my cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed 22 months ago with multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the bone marrow, the blood in the bone marrow, so that has been a major issue here. I think the Lord has been teaching me that we are going to have storms in our life. I think all of us have either come out of a storm, or we’re in the middle of a storm, or we’re heading into one. And, in the middle of the storm, how are you gonna react? What are you gonna do? How are you gonna deal with it? I’ve been a Christian for many decades, but never really faced major adversity, but the cancer diagnosis got my attention. And I think, at that point, Bryce, you have one of two choices: You can turn your back on God and shake your fist at Him and play the “Why me?” game, or you can just do a flying leap into His lap and hold on around his neck as tightly as you can and ride through the storm holding onto the Lord. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

BRYCE JOHNSON: You and your wife have adopted 14 international kids. What have you learned through adoption?
Pat Williams:  I’ve learned that parenting is not easy, but children need your time. They need your attention; you’ve got to figure out the right balance between love and discipline. I think that’s the key. They need unconditional love, but that has to be balanced with the right amount of discipline. And the other thing I’ve learned is, at 18, they are leaving home. That needs to be planted in their minds from the time they’re very young, that at 18 they’re going to college or they’re going into the military or they’re going into the workforce, but they’re not hanging at home playing video games.

BRYCE JOHNSON: Since you are involved with the Magic organization, what was your thought process during the whole Dwight Howard saga in Orlando?
Pat Williams: Dwight, what are you thinking? What’s going on in your mind? Why can we not get through to you? This is your city; this is where you started as an 18-year-old. There’s something special, Dwight, about being in one city your whole career, a la John Havlicek or Tim Duncan or David Robinson or Cal Ripken…Dwight, to have a monument outside the building of you, this is your town.

BRYCE JOHNSON: How do you feel about players staying on one team their whole career or playing for multiple teams?
Pat Williams: At a certain point in their career a player has the right to make decisions and move in other directions…They have earned the right for that freedom. I, however, argue that if you can have one career in one city and start there and finish there, boy, I think that’s pretty special…and quite rare. Kobe Bryant will do it, it appears. He’ll be a one-city guy. You’re always linked to that franchise. Shaquille O’Neal, for example, started here, four years here, then off to LA, then to Miami, then to Phoenix, then to Cleveland, then to Boston. He does not have one city that is his…where he will always be linked to that one city…And, I think, at the end of your career, I think that’s kind of sad.

By Bryce Johnson

This column was published in the September 2012 Sports Spectrum DigiMag. Print and digital subscribers, log in and view the issue here. Follow Bryce on Twitter-@BRYCERADIO.

UNPACKIN’ it INTERVIEW — Pat Williams

Joining Sports Spectrum contributor and faith and sports podcast host Bryce Johnson today is Pat Williams, co-founder and senior vice president of the Orlando Magic. He’s also a motivational speaker and has spent 50 years in professional baseball and basketball as a player and executive.

Williams is the author of over 75 books. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations.

Bryce asks him about Dwight Howard, the state of the NBA, and his faith. Pat also discusses his battle with cancer. Click here to listen to Bryce’s interview with Pat on the “Upackin’ It” podcast.

UNPACKIN’ it DAILY — NFL Preview and Lakers

Listen to Sports Spectrum contributor and “Unpackin’ It” podcast host Bryce Johnson give his thoughts on the upcoming NFL weekend. Find out what 4-4 team he believes will make the playoffs in the NFC. Also, has he finally given up on the Eagles? Plus, will he pick the Panthers to beat the Broncos? Bryce also discusses what’s going on with “his” Lakers. Click here to listen.

UNPACKIN’ it DAILY — The Fantasy Football Show

It’s Wednesday! That means Sports Spectrum contributor, and faith and sports podcast host Bryce Johnson is lending his expertise to the fantasy football world. He answers the question, “What’s Boiling, Bryce?” and also gives you two players to pick up this week off the waiver wire. Find out if Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin helped or hurt his team last week. Click here to listen to Unpackin’ It podcast host Bryce Johnson’s Week 9 fantasy football thoughts.

UNPACKIN’ It INTERVIEW: Britton Lynn

Sports Spectrum contributor, and faith and sports podcast host Bryce Johnson interviews Fox6 sports reporter Britton Lynn about Alabama football, her faith, the Cowboys, being a female sports broadcaster and cheering for her alma mater.  Britton has covered BCS Championships, the ESPYS, and has been seen on ESPNU and Fox Sports. She brings some great energy to the UNPACKIN’ It podcast. Click here to listen to Bryce’s interview with Britton Lynn.

Uncommon Challenge