I am very fortunate that my son loves football. Actually, saying he loves football is quite the understatement. He loves watching football. He loves playing football. He loves talking football. He loves debating football. His ability to understand and retain football facts and statistics is remarkable and uncanny….especially remembering he is six. Most six year olds don’t say, “Dad, Brett Farve #4 is having a better year with the Vikings than he did with the Jets or the Packers.” It’s strange to hear him say, “Dad, the Falcons were 9-7 this year, but when Michael Turner #33 gets better we should make the playoffs.” I am not exactly sure how it happened or when it happened, but somehow I unknowingly created a monster. I can’t say that I hate it, though. Because of this, many of the memories Samuel and I are making are around football. We go to games together. We play football together. We wear jerseys on Sunday and watch the Falcons together. He served along side me as the “Junior Chaplain” for the football team at Chamblee High School this year. He didn’t miss a home game and loved handing out the forks and knives at the team meal. And rarely does a Saturday go by in the fall that he and I aren’t watching the Bulldogs together. The kid absolutely loves everything about football. One of the great joys I had this football season was to watch Coach Bobby Bowden and Tim Tebow finish out their respective careers, and to teach Samuel a little bit about what those men stood for outside of football and the legacy they left not just on the game, but on the world.
Legacy…. a word that can make you nervous.
Legacy….What am I leaving behind? What will I be remembered for? What will people say about me when I’m dead?
(Putting aside for a moment my feelings for the University of Florida…)
Tim Tebow left his legacy on college football. No other college player in my lifetime has taken a bolder stance for their faith than Tim Tebow. His unwavering consistency to share Scripture, truth, and the gospel has left the college football world with a tremendous gap with his departure. The more success he had, the more honors and awards he received, the bolder he became in the declaration of his faith in Christ and his passion for missions. What a legacy. What a challenge. I feel blessed that I was able to watch Tim Tebow. I am grateful I was able to share with Samuel that Tim Tebow’s legacy was much more than his abilities as a player; it was his uncompromising stand for truth and his commitment to share Jesus Christ to the world. I want to leave that kind of legacy.
I heard Coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs share his story one time. He talked of his college years at the University of Miami and his roommate who talked with him about God. He told of his life after an unsuccessful college football career and about being cut by 3 NFL teams. Coach Richt elaborated about how all his hopes and dreams of a career playing football were lost. Soon after this time in his life, he was hired by Coach Bobby Bowden of Florida State in 1985 to work as a graduate assistant. Coach Richt then told a story of tragedy when one of their players was killed. He talked about how Coach Bowden shared the gospel story with the team and told them that if they had questions about their faith and their eternity, they should come see him, because his door was always open. The next day Coach Richt went to see Coach Bowden because he had questions about his faith and Coach Bowden led him in a prayer of salvation.
Coach Bowden’s legacy of faith now continues through Coach Richt. Imagine all the players whose spiritual lives have been shaped by these two men. Where do you even begin to talk about the legacy of Coach Bowden? Besides all the football accolades he attained (one of which being 2nd in wins in the history of college football), his legacy of faith on the thousands of players and coaches is immeasurable. Coach Bowden stood for truth and for Jesus Christ in his coaching for almost 5 decades, and is unwavering in that stance today. While Coach Bowden will be remembered by most for his coaching accomplishments, he would be the first to say he’d rather be remembered as a man of strong faith who invested in the lives of his players and coaches. I remember watching Coach Bowden’s last game this season with Samuel. Florida State was playing West Virginia and Coach Bowden took the FSU spear and threw it into the ground at the 50 yard line. It was quite a scene, and a memory that will stick with me forever. Coach Bowden was a man of strong faith, and a man who left a lasting legacy on the landscape of college football.
My prayer is that I will leave a legacy of faith for my children. I want them to remember me as a dad who lived out every day the principles found in the Scriptures. I want them to remember me as a dad whose life of faith and whose words of faith were consistent. I want to leave a legacy.
“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”