Tuesday, August 5, 2008


One of the longest running battles between sports media and sports participants has been waged over religion and spirituality or at least the reverence towards something ‘above us’. Often, a player will praise God in a post-game interview after his or her team walked away with a win. Yet, it’s the scribe that frustratingly or sardonically asks why the player can’t give equal praise in defeat. It’s an understandable qualm being that ideally, sports is the equalizer of all who play, whether one is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, a non-practicing Jew or a respectful, but skeptical atheist.

When Art Monk, the last of the 2008 inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, spoke about his long, long, long overdue honor, he spoke to a heavy Washington Redskins crowd that probably swore something fierce in celebration of the wide receiver’s moment. Where most of us fans and media who revere the game wanted to slap the proverbial face of the PFHoF for taking seven years to elect him, Monk reflected on the peace he made with the long wait by claiming that “as great as this honor is, it’s not what defines who I am or what I have been able to accomplish in my life”

Instead, he discussed where he’d like his identity to show the strongest; through his faith.

“That's right. And even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the word of God and it's the word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he's called me to be.”

As you can tell from the rest of the clip and transcript, Monk was hoping to relay to the crowd that something beyond him allowed for him to have this moment.

The cynical sports writer would have found a way to lampoon Monk for bringing faith into what was supposed to be a celebration for the sport. Yet, maybe because this was one of the most respected wide receivers the game has ever known, there wasn’t a loud cry about his choice of words. In a volatile media market that is analyzing and criticizing the John McCain ad implying that Barack Obama believes himself to be a messiah, you would think that someone on sports talk radio would have gone on a tangent about it all. And maybe someone has.

However, Monk has probably shown us that any problem with sports and faith isn’t always about faith itself, but the person and the timing.

Say What?!?!: Speaking of Monk, an interesting fan question coming out of Jacksonville. Found this on the Jaguars’ website:
Tommy from Atlantic Beach, FL
What effect, if any, does Art Monk finally making it into the Hall of Fame have on Jimmy Smith's chances of making it in?
Vic: Their numbers are comparable. Monk has 78 more catches and 434 more yards, but Jimmy Smith is right with the best of them when it comes to stats. Jimmy’s problem, and it’s the same for all wide receivers, is that the Hall of Fame is starting to become the Hall of Fame of Wide Receivers, and Monk just added another name to the list. I think you’re going to see the Hall of Fame committee turn away from wide receivers for awhile. I think you’re going to see the committee begin turning toward the defensive side of the ball, which does not have enough representation, especially at linebacker.

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