Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

June 22, 2013

Mike Phillips: Victory Bowl game an inspiration

Corsicana — I’m a Tom Landry guy.

I’m a Bobby Bowden guy.

I’m a Mark Richt guy.

I’ll stop there.

If you can’t find the theme, I’ll help you.

Great men, great coaches and even better Christians.

I was thinking about Bowden Saturday night at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl game in Waco.

If you have never heard Bowden speak at an FCA function, you have missed one of the best preachers in America. I asked Bowden once if he ever thought about becoming a preacher and he laughed and said, “Aweee, I never felt like I was good enough.’’

He is. Trust me, he is.

He’s one of those guys who believes in Christ and the FCA.

Bowden often tells the story about losing a player years ago when he was coaching at Florida State. One of his players was in a club. An argument started and a man pulled out a gun and shot and killed the FSU player.

The next day Bowden called his team together. It wasn’t just a team meeting to grieve the loss of a friend and teammate. Bowden gathered everyone so he could deliver the gospel to his kids. He gave a sincere and emotional witness to those players, telling them nothing is guaranteed. Your life can end just that quickly, in a blink of an eye. He opened up and moved the hearts of young men that day.

He wanted to give them eternity.

Bowden went home, and about 15 minutes later someone was at the door. It was FSU offensive coordinator Mark Richt.

Richt wanted to know more about what Bowden had said at the meeting, so the two men sat down with the Bible and had a life-changing afternoon.

Today Richt is the head football coach at the University of Georgia. You might not like the Bulldogs, but you can’t help from liking and admiring Richt. He’s a salt-of-the-earth Christian. He doesn’t just talk it, he lives the life, and of course, he is now a big supporter of the FCA.

That’s what happens with the FCA, and what the organization stands for — passing on the gospel and touching lives.

Dan Reeves, the former Cowboys star and NFL coach, is retired now, and he too spends time speaking at functions and contributing to the FCA.

I asked Reeves once about it and he told me in no uncertain terms why he believes in the FCA.

“Young people need the FCA, and they need it now more than ever before,’’ Reeves said.

He’s right.

Reeves didn’t grow up with the FCA.

“No,’’ he said. “I got involved with the FCA when I got to the Cowboys. It was because of coach Landry.’’

Just passing it on...

Landry touched countless lives as a football coach and as a Christian, just as Reeves does now. Just as Bowden continues to do every day in his life as a former coach, and just like Richt, who heard the message that changed his life — and ultimately the lives of others — from Bowden.

Just like Navarro football coach Brian Mayper, who was surprised and honored last Saturday night when he was named the FCA’s Coach of the Year. He made it a part of life on campus when he got the job at Navarro, made it important the minute he got the job.

He’s passing it on in Corsicana.

I’ve known so many high school and college coaches who believe in the FCA, and it would take hours to talk about all the NFL players who believe in what the FCA stands for and support it.

The message is ageless and timeless, and like Reeves says, it’s more important now than ever before.

All those men would have liked the FCA Victory Bowl in Waco.

The game had its moments, but talking to the kids afterward was inspiring. One by one they each talked about how the week had been one the best in their lives, about how they came together to talk about Christ and God, how it stayed with them.

It was moving. It was emotional, and it was riveting for those kids.

Wortham senior Chris Lee, who played linebacker for the Red team, said it best when he said the best part of the week, “was the pep rally and watching the coaches and players get saved.’’

He meant it.

I’ve got a feeling Chris will be passing it on, too.

You gotta love the FCA and what it stands for. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the game so much and why it stayed with me.

Made me think about Landry and Bowden and Richt...

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