Sunday, June 24, 2012

Early Review: Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger

Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication Date:  August 28th 2012
ISBN:  0849947340
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Religion, Spirituality, Sports
Book Synopsis:  Step into the locker rooms and living rooms of NFL players and personnel to see how a close relationship with God guides football's biggest stars.
Compiled from dozens of interviews, Men of Sunday marks the intersection of two Sunday traditions: faith and football. Inspired by the league's "systemic shift" toward embracing Christianity, Bloomberg writer Curtis Eichelberger shows how God is a source of comfort when facing the unique challenges of life in the NFL and the everyday challenges of maintaining strong families and building character. Hear in their own words how the NFL's greatest rely on their faith to overcome drug abuse, family crises, injuries, and temptations resulting from fame and fortune.
Featured personalities include 
  • New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
  • Former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Mike Singletary
  • Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis
  • Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy
  • San Diego Chargers pastor Shawn Mitchell
  • Danisha Rolle, wife of former Tennessee and Baltimore defensive back Samari Rolle
  • And many more
Men of Sunday's readers-"normal folks . . . who go to church on Sunday, come home to root for their team, and who live a righteous life . . . most days"-will learn to tackle their own obstacles by trusting the Lord.
My Thoughts:  This is a very well thought out and put together book that gives the reader a new insight into the big names of the NFL.   I really appreciated this view of a sport that often gets press that is almost in contrary view of that depicted in this book.  It was nice to see an image of individuals that we often see as tough and menacing, now as God-fearing, spiritual leaders in their profession.  

The author explores players, coaches, and wives of the NFL and the role that faith plays in their lives.  As a viewer, we often do not realize how much Christianity and other religions have become part of this sport.  In years past, those in the NFL that displayed their faith were often called "Bible Banger" or soft.  Today we are seeing more of an open display, positive impact and reception of those of faith such as Joe Gibbs, Tony Dungy, and Tim Tebow.  Yeah, we will always have those that criticize, but it is not as taboo as it used to be.

Personally, I had no idea that their were actually individuals hired as chaplains or spiritual advisors for football players.  There are actual officially-sponsored NFL events that are for the purpose of supporting the religious / spiritual beliefs of those in the NFL.  I was so glad to read this.  It gives me such a more positive perspective on the sport. 

As violent as the game is, how can an athlete who participates say is is a man of Christ? Isn't that an interesting thought?  I had't even given that much thought prior to reading it.  However, there are many players who have had to deal with that internally.  But in contrast, another point brought out is that because of the violence of the sport, believing in God, and having a relationship with him should be a given.   Now that I can follow!

Another issue discussed in the book deals with the fact that most fans believe that the NFL player, coaches, wives, and family have it made - they are in the spotlight and are wealthy.  What we often don't realize are the hardships they deal with almost daily.  They are always in the spotlight, so what might be small in the average person's world is amplified for these athletes.  And on top of the everyday issues, they have to deal with the many injuries that come with the job.  And, just because they are stars does not mean that tragedy can strike their lives as well - then add the camera to that!!!  Doesn't it just make sense that they would have that relationship with God?  I don't know how they would survive without it!

I could go on and on with this book.  I will say that it is not a book that I would have typically picked up, but it grabbed me for whatever reason, and I am so glad that I read it.  It took me one day to read.  It was a very comfortable easy book to read.  It felt more like a conversation with these individuals rather than a story or book about them.  Curtis Eichelberger put you right there with him as he was having the conversations with these men and women.  I really enjoyed the way that he made the connection of the two seemingly unrelated Men of Sunday - God and NFL stars.  

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