I can't imagine the hate mail that this guy must be getting, but I sincerely thank Gregg Doyle for having. the balls to write this. I'm sure his e-mail box is overflowing with the self-righteous telling him how very wrong he is, and truth be told I'm a little shocked CBS actually published it. I'm sure his supervisor is getting plenty of hate mail as well. Here's the article, with a little commentary after the jump;
Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams sucks at zone coverage, but Jesus loves him.
No, wait. Sorry -- I made a mess of that sentence. Let me try it again:
Roy Williams sucks at zone coverage because Jesus loves him.
Why are you looking at me like that? Don't blame me. I'm not the latest athlete to play the God card so clumsily and self-centeredly. I'm not the "role model" who told an Oklahoma newspaper that a direct line can be drawn from his football struggles to his new-found faith in the Lord. That was all Roy Williams, who had been having a tough year before opening his mouth and inserting his Bible.
Williams went through the entire 2007 season without a sack. He struggled in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defensive scheme to the point Phillips didn't start him in two games. There was talk of a feud between Williams and coaches and even some teammates after Williams -- whose horse-collar tackles led to a rule banning them -- got himself suspended by horse-collaring the Eagles' Donovan McNabb.
Two Cowboys questioned him recently in the media. Greg Ellis said Williams has been whining and distancing himself from teammates. Terence Newman said Williams "had a bad season" in coverage thanks to his "deer in headlights type of reaction to some plays."
With that as context, here's what Williams told the Oklahoman last week:
"Ever since I've rededicated my life to Christ, I've caught way more persecution now," he said. "But it's a beautiful thing because I know it's a breakthrough coming for me. I welcome it. What makes me any better than Christ? He was persecuted and I've been persecuted. My teammates know where my heart is. They know where my mind is at."
Williams' heart may be in the right place, but his brain needs work if it sees parallels between the persecution of Jesus and the persecution of a $25 million safety. Beaten by Roman soldiers, beaten by Randy Moss -- what's the difference?
Athletes turn to God, and God loses. Have you ever met someone who was turned .. watching Jon Kitna thank God for a touchdown pass? Doubt it. Have you ever met someone who was turned off? Sure you have. There's a saying: Christianity would be great if it weren't for all those, you know, Christians.
Just so you know, I've walked both sides of this fence. Some of you might wonder, so here goes: I've not been to church in a year, but for a decade before that, I went weekly and tithed 10 percent of my salary, such as it is, to the church. There's my story.
Lots of Christians tithe. Nothing special about me. Hell, Darryl Strawberry told reporters he was tithing in 1991. In later years, he was strung out on coke and indicted for tax evasion and charged with soliciting prostitutes and assaulting a girlfriend and failing to support his kids. I'm not sure he was still a Christian, but I'm positive I wasn't the only one to remember his tithing and wonder what happened. And I'm positive that's not good.
Not that Christians are, or are supposed to be, perfect. They're not. On the day before Super Bowl XXXIII, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was awarded the Bart Starr Award by the Christian group Athletes in Action for his "high moral character." That night he was busted for soliciting a prostitute. It happens. Christians are fallible too, you know.
But when Christian athletes are fallible or narcissistic or just stupid, there are thousands of easily influenced people taking note. So when a whining malcontent like Roy Williams starts comparing himself to Jesus, he's not helping the bigger cause. He's hurting it. And he's just the latest in a long line of athletes to do so.
Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter is one of the most devoutly Christian athletes I've ever seen, but a few weeks ago, he was openly pining for Mets manager Willie Randolph's job. That's coveting. And it isn't very Christian.
When he played for the Marlins in 1997, Darren Daulton espoused his beliefs as a born-again Christian. He espoused them to me, and I listened. Now he espouses his belief in out-of-body experiences, numerology and his mastery of time travel. He might be crazy. He definitely isn't someone I should have been listening to in 1997.
As heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield sends one message when he speaks about his deep Christian faith. He sends another with his 11 children with various women, several out of wedlock.
Before the 2005 Super Bowl, receiver Terrell Owens said God had healed his injured ankle. Doctors had inserted two screws and a metal plate into the leg on Dec. 22, 2004. Four days later, Southeast Asia was decimated by a tsunami that killed more than 200,000. Maybe T.O. really does think God was healing an ankle at the same time He was allowing such death and destruction. Fine. But don't tell us.
Just the other day, Paul Pierce said God dispatched an angel from heaven to uplift him after Pierce went from a heap to a hero in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Said Pierce: "I think God sent an angel down and said, 'Hey, you're going to be all right. You need to get back out there and show them what you've got.'"
God is a Celtics fan. Good to know.
These athletes don't get it. After Kobe Bryant is accused of sexual assault, we don't want to hear him tell us, as he did then, "we need your prayers now more than ever." After Michael Vick is sentenced to jail for the killing of dogs, we don't want to hear him say, "Through this situation, I found Jesus and asked Him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God." After Pacman Jones made it rain in Las Vegas, triggering a melee that left a man paralyzed, we don't want to see him handing out boxes of food in a staged photo-op at an Atlanta church.
There's a reason Madison Avenue doesn't want anything to do with famous athletes like the ones in this story: People don't like them. People don't want to be like them.
So if these are the kinds of men who join the Christian club and shove their faith down my throat ... maybe that club's not for me.
You see, to me, one of the biggest beatings in the world is when people play the God card. Somehow this amazing God of their is notoriously absent as they're cheating on their wife/fucking hookers/doing drugs/embezzling money/having 15 kids/fighting dogs/etc. and yet as soon as they're caught this God suddenly appears and offers them solace and guidance and they're changed men (or women, though I can't think of an example with a woman). This isn't just limited to sports, this is rampant as well in politics, and even every day life. Nevermind if they hadn't been, you know, caught then this God wouldn't have brought them peace and they'd have continued doing what they were doing....nevermind that.
It's so fucking insincere, and yet somehow there are enough idiots/saps in this world that people actually believe this crap, and forgive the person because they've "become a better Christian." You see it over and over, you can be a celebrity and do basically anything you want....and so long as you can keep a straight face and play the God card, all is forgiven.
Oh you hate Jews Mel Gibson? That's ok if you've found God.
I know this isn't breaking news, and I really don't know why this drives me so insane....but for whatever reason it does. So I just thank the author for penning a great article on it, and appreciate the crap I'm sure he's going to get for it. Cheers.