Category Archives: Faithful Fans

Texans Deshaun Watson
Walks the Walk

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Deshaun WatsonMany times in today’s society, people will talk the talk, but they will not walk the walk. Many people do not have the courage, selflessness or character to go the extra mile for others.

Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is not someone who lacks these qualities.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, with the entire city of Houston still recovering and many people affiliated with the Texans organization doing the same, Deshaun Watson went out of his way to help somebody.

This past week, Watson and his teammates found out about two women who work for the Texans who lost everything they had to Hurricane Harvey. They lost their homes, clothes, money, etc.,

They still showed up for work to help the players; To feed them, give them nutrition and energy. Even when they had nothing, they worked to help Watson and the Texans.

Watson took notice of this, and he decided to take action to help the two women who helped his teammates and him as often as they do.

As James 2:14-26 said; “Faith Without Action is Dead.”

Watson’s action in this instance was to give the two women his first NFL game check, which totaled over $400,000

That is in all likelihood more than the two women could have ever imagined in their wildest dreams. Watson did the extraordinary to help these two women. He did as the church says all should at least try to do; Take action.

More Than a Coach

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There are a number adjectives that are used to describe Tom Coughlin, the former Head Coach and current Executive Vice President of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tough.

Disciplined.

Detailed.

But what are other adjectives that Coughlin emulates as much as he does his other traits, but still go relatively unnoticed?

Devout. 

Charitable.

Thoughtful.

Coughlin, a practicing Catholic, is as embedded in the city of Jacksonville as any one man can be, and this has dated back to his arrival to the city in 1995.

He was the first coach of the cities first major sports team. He lead them to early success and has remained a legend in the area.

But the impact he has made on the residents of Jacksonville, and around the entire United States, can be found off the field as well. He is truly a man who lives his faith.

The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, or the Jay Foundation, was started by Coughlin in Jacksonville in 1996. It is a non-profit foundation that focuses on supporting families that have children who are being treated for cancer.

While Coughlin was the Head Coach at Boston College, his position before the Jaguars, he witnessed one of his players, Jay McGillis, suffer from Leukemia.

Coughlin was able to witness firsthand the impact that cancer has on a family, both emotionally and financially. Since that point, he has been moved to help the sick and the needy as much as he can.

There are not many better ways for one to demonstrate their faith and character than to aid the sick or worse-off, and there are not many men who do this with more dignity or consistency than Tom Coughlin.

By 2004, Coughlin had expanded the Jay Fund to New York City. This continued to aid families while both increasing funds and number of families treated.

Today, Coughlin still works with the Jay Fund and hospitals throughout the country to aid cancer patients and their families. He has been able to donated over $2 million dollars in aid.

This is something that has traveled with him through his career just as much as any of his playbooks or coaching staff’s.

When Tom Coughlin steps away from football, he will be remembered as a Super Bowl winning coach, a Jacksonville legend, and an all time football authoritarian. There is no debating the impact that Coughlin has made with his work on the field.

But people should never look past the impact Coughlin makes off the field. Being Catholic is being humane and charitable, and Tom Coughlin personifies that completely.

Faith & Theology

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The NCAA men’s baseball college world series officially concluded in the final weeks of June. The Florida Gators won their first men’s baseball championship in school history after defeating the LSU Tigers.

But the Gators victory was not the only thing to take away and reflect on. Neither was the tournament, or the MVP, or anything else on the field.

Instead, this moment came from the team who came in 2nd.

The post-game press conference given by LSU Coach Paul Mainieri, a known Catholic, touched on several topics–from his team’s performance to his pride for his school, to disappointment over the loss.

But there was one moment in his interview that provided a perfect example for the role a sports team can play in the lives of others, as well as an example of several values that all should live by.

Here is an excerpt from the transcript.

“I remember my wife saying to me last summer, she said, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if you could go out and win the national championship this spring to unify the community and give them something to be happy about and be proud of?’  And I’ve never — I never forgot that she said that.”

Mainieri shows where his values and priorities lie. He has thought about his community and the positive impact that he and his team could make on the community.

This aligns with the verse Philippians 2:4
“do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

The church teaches that, while you should prosper for yourself, you should have the interests of others in your heart. This is the same thing Mainieri is teaching his players.

“I don’t really talk about it that much with the players, but in my heart, was something we really wanted to do. And even though we came up a little bit short-two victories short-I think we did a lot of things this year to make the people in our community proud and our state proud.”

Here, Mainieri again shows that, despite talking moments after a momentous loss, the coach was still thinking about others. This was clearly more than just a game, which means that regardless of the final result, they can take solace in it.

This aligns with the verse Galatians 6:9-10
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

The church teaches to do good for all people if we have the self-ability to, which is the same thing that Mainieri emphasizes to his players.

“But I know these players to my right and all the players in that clubhouse gave it everything that they had. And I don’t think they have anything to be ashamed of. And I hope that the people of Louisiana and in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, et cetera, are proud of our team.

“I think they should be. They’re a great group of kids. They’re wonderful young men. And this is just the cruelty of what we do.”

Mainieri closes out by thinking more about the type of people he is coaching and playing for, before thinking about the result of the game.

The Tigers may not have left the college world series as champions, but they made an impression on everyone who was willing to listen. They showed the core values that all, from the church, to sports, should learn from. Give to others. Teach others. And care for your community.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Head Coach Tyronn Lue

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On Thursday evening, Head Coach Tyronn Lue and the Cleveland Cavaliers got their 3rd straight chance at an NBA championship as they began their series vs. the Golden State Warriors.

Tyronn Lue has faced adversity at various points throughout both his career and life, but much of what has gotten him to this point in his career are his roots in his family and his faith.

Lue is from a small town in Missouri called Mexico. He did not have much growing up. Since then he has reflected on his time in Mexico as difficult but rewarding because what he did have were his faith and his family. His grandfather and his mother were among hist biggest supporters in both his professional and his faith journey.

Since Lue has moved away from Mexico, he has played in the NBA, played in an NBA finals, and coached the Cavilers to their first ever NBA championship, which came at the expense of the greatest regular season team of all time, the 2016 Golden State Warriors.

Philippians 4:12-13
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Lue is living proof of this scripture. Once a poor child from Mexico, Missouri, without much else then his family, faith, and basketball, Lue now has a multi-million dollar contract.

He has credited his tough upbringing for much of his success, but he has since used his situation to help those who were once in the less fortunate position that he was once in.

Lue now personally pays for several charity events and churches in Mexico each year during the holidays. No corporate sponsors, all from his own pocket. He remembers what it is like being poor with nothing to turn to except family, faith, and ball. He wants to do anything he can to help the kids who he was once like. Anything to get them to turn to God or family or basketball.

For the next month we will hear about Lue, the coach, but we regardless of the result of the NBA finals, we should celebrate Tyronn Lue, the person. The player, coach, son, and man of faith.

MARCH MADNESS by John Shipley

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March is a busy month, both within sports and within the Catholic church. Lent begins, Easter is fast approaching, and the Men’s College Basketball tournament known as “March Madness” is beginning.

March Madness is a basketball tournament that features 64 of the best men’s college basketball teams from around the country. This includes public colleges, private colleges, and predominantly Catholic colleges.

Out of the 64 original March Madness teams in 2017’s tournament, 12 of the teams are Catholic colleges.

Those teams include Mount St. Mary’s University, Providence College, Villanova University, Marquette University, Gonzaga University, Notre Dame University, Xavier University, St. Mary’s college, Creighton University, Iona College, Setton Hall University, and the University of Dayton.

Catholic Colleges have long had a storied and prestigious history in the March Madness tournament. Here are some of the most iconic and memorable moments

In 1985, the tournament’s most storied round, “The Final Four”, featured Catholic Colleges in 3 of the tournaments 4 slots. These teams included were St. Johns university, Gonzaga, and Villanova. Villanova would go on to advance to the final game and win the championship.

Only two Catholic College would play in a title game after 1985. Seton Hall in 1989, and Villanova again in 2016.

In 2016, Villanova took down NCAA powerhouse North Carolina to win the title in what many consider to be one of the tournament’s greatest games of all time.

Catholic Colleges have a storied history and are always a constant in March Madness, which is appropriate considering the importance and value of the month of March in the Catholic faith.

Faithful Coaching

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With sports at their peak of excitement, due to the close of the football season and the beginning of basketball season, there are a few college level coaches who are devout in their Catholic faith and have used this faith while on the path to coaching success. Let’s look at a couple:

Duke Mens Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski is perhaps the most influential and notable coach in college sports today. His list of accomplishments at Duke, and elsewhere, include a number of final four appearances, national championships, and gold medals.

All along the way, Krzyzewski has used his faith and implemented it into his coaching. As a youth, He attended St. Helen Elementary School and Archbishop Weber High School, an all-boy Catholic prep school. Since that time, Coach K has established himself as a leader, on and off the court, as a coach and as a spiritual influence.

Ohio State Football Coach Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer, the former head coach of the Florida Gators and the current head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, has been known as a devout Catholic since childhood and has used this experience as a football coach.

Meyer has been known to place an emphasis on his faith during his time as a coach and this has lead to several noted occurrences of him helping lead both his players and his family closer to God. He has taken players to bible studies as well as regularly attends mass during the season.

In a world when it’s hard to live your faith out, you wouldn’t think faith and sports go hand-in-hand. The example of these coaches living out their faith so strongly serves as great inspiration for the rest of us. Like them, we can live out our faith too.

Who’s Eugene Monroe?

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Eugene Monroe is not a household name in the world of sports. Many Jacksonville fans know him well, because of his status as a former first-round pick, but the fact of the matter is that unless you are a devout NFL fan, you do not know who Eugene Monroe is.

This should not be the case. Not in the light of his retirement.

Eugene Monroe has stepped away from the NFL after seven seasons as a Left Tackle. A former top 10 pick who is still in the prime age of 29, Monroe’s retirement has nothing to do with his play on the field.

Monroe is instead retiring because, per his words, he is worried not only about his own health, but about the health of his peers. He wants to be able to walk away from the NFL without any serious inflictions and wants to lead a normal life off the field. He does not want to become yet another example of the dangers of the NFL, which are plentiful.

But Monroe also wants to set an example for other players around the league who may want to follow the same path. Others before him, such as Chris Borland and Calvin Johnson, who retired earlier in their careers than anyone would have guessed. They did this to preserve their own bodies and long term health but in going against the grain and typical NFL standards of playing as long as possible, they showed the way for any players who may feel similar to them in the future.

The NFL is a brotherhood, and Monroe and the others who retired early have displayed time and time again through their actions that they care about this brotherhood deeply.

To retire in one’s prime is a bold move. Your reputation will never be the same. The way people attach things to your name, will never be the same. The sport that has long been your entire life and your livelihood will now be gone. Your life will never be the same.

To accept all of this and still have the courage to go through with it should be commended. To want to make a better life for you, your family, and your peers across the entire league, now and in the future, should be respected and honored.

Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Eugene Monroe has lived out this verse to the fullest. He has acted Christ like and set an example for generations before him by making the ultimate sacrifice, his career, to preserve his life and the lives of others.

We should all take from Monroe. From athletes, to students, to just any citizen.

2016 NBA Finals and God

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In the 2016 NBA finals, the featured matchup is a rematch of last years finals. The Golden State Warriors vs the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The story lines in the game are endless. The Warriors are seeking not only their 2nd straight championship but are also seeking basketball immortality. The chance to end the best regular season of all time with a ring.

The Cavaliers meanwhile are trying to heal old wounds with a title. The city of Cleveland has had its heart broken by its sports team year after year. Their own local son, LeBron James, has even broke their hearts, leaving them for the Miami Heat so he could chase rings. He is trying to make up for his past mistakes by bringing the city the championship they have sought after for so long. He is also trying to piece together his own legacy and rid himself of a label of underachievement that many have, foolishly, labeled him with.

But among all of the storylines and implications on the court during the finals, there are also storylines off the court. These storylines include how several players on each team have used faith to get them to where they are today.

Steph Curry

Steph Curry is almost as widely known and renowned for his off court lifestyle as he is for his on court talents. He has gone out of his way in endless interviews to show his devotion to sharing the word and power of Christ and the importance of his faith in his life, his family’s life, and in his game. He even has scripture verses embedded into his shoes for some games.

Klay Thompson

Shooting Guard Klay Thompson was raised in a Catholic household and attended Private Catholic education throughout his years of schooling. Since joining the NBA, Thompson has been outspoken about the place that his faith has in his life and in his career.

Andre Iguodala

Iguodala is another Warriors player that was raised as a Christian and has remained devoted to his faith throughout the duration of his NBA career. After winning the NBA Finals MVP award in 2015, Iguodala credited the award and the Warriors success to their power of believing in God, in what was the biggest post game conference of his career.

LeBron James

James has never been an outspoken player, despite being the most popular player in the sport since Michael Jordan. He carries himself softly, letting his play do his talking for him. But this hasn’t stopped him from crediting god and his faith with his success time after time again, ever since his days of playing at St. Vincent and Mary Catholic High school. Once when asked about where his talent and athleticism came from, James responded “The grace of God above; He gave me this athleticism.”

by John Shipley

Faithful Fans

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A big part about being a professional, likely the most important part to many, is the income and financial security that follows. NFL players in 2015 specifically make a median yearly salary of $860,000 (can not use an “Average” salary number because the highest paid players throw the average way off).

What a player ultimately does with his money is one hundred percent their decision and their responsibility. From ensuring they are set up to be financially stable once their playing days are over, to taking care of their families, etc. This is their income and they are both free and expected to spend it how they like. And this is what makes players like Brandon Carr, Warrick Dunn, and Rashean Mathis special.

In 2012, Brandon Carr signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys that was worth upwards of $50,000,000. Since signing the deal Carr has been active in giving back to his community but his most recent contribution may be his most important. Carr has started up a program in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, the area of the recent water disaster, to enable fellow athletes to give back to the Flint community and aid them in their time of need. He has personally donated over $10,000 back to his hometown.

Warrick Dunn made millions of dollars throughout his 11 year career with the Buccaneers and the Falcons and he has done more than enough to give back to those in need. Dunn grew up in a single parent home but when he was 18 years old, his mother was murdered. Dunn never forgot the impact she had on his life and the difficult task she had as a parent. Since retiring, Dunn has started the Homes for Holidays program and the Warrick Dunn Charities and has helped give homes to over 115 families with single parents and his program is growing each year.

Rashean Mathis played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first 10 years of his 13 year career, but he also grew up in Jacksonville. Like Dunn, Mathis grew up in a single parent home and knows the trials and tribulations that those who grow up in similar situations endure. He has used his NFL connections, profits, and his experiences to set up programs and classes to help set up free financial education programs to help educate his community.

All of these players made a great impact on the field and they were rewarded for it throughout their careers with NFL pay. But they used that money to make an even bigger impact off the field, for their families, their communities, and those in need. The NFL and all other sports leagues could use more people like Brandon Carr, Warrick Dunn, and Rashean Mathis.

By John Shipley

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