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SS at the Super Bowl: Blog Entry No. 7

On Saturday morning at the 2012 Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast, we interviewed four people: legendary quarterback Bart Starr, 2012 Bart Starr Award winner London Fletcher, Super Bowl XLII champion David Tyree and Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.

If you haven’t read Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher’s story in our Winter 2012 issue, you have to read it. That’s what makes him receiving the Bart Starr Award even more impressive…because of where he’s come from. In the media room, he talked about living “the NFL life” for seven years but then turning things around. And here he was receiving an award based on “outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” Amazing. Also, I especially love the beginning of Joshua Cooley’s six-page feature on London…

“The car pulled up slowly, menacingly, alongside London Fletcher. Trouble filled the air like noxious exhaust fumes. Moments earlier, Fletcher had gotten into a dispute with a neighborhood guy. No news there. Happened all the time. Confrontation was virtually inevitable on Cleveland’s East Side in the mid-1990s. This was no place for a church social or school field trip. Here in the perilous shadows of the night, desperate dealers peddled their sinister wares, and the unmistakable ‘POP! POP! POP!’ of gunfire occasionally shattered the normal din of city life…” Read more.

Of course, Bart Starr is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. But his family life stands out even more to me. He’s been married to his wife, Cherry, for 58 years — ever since they eloped in 1954. I’ll say that again. 58 years. So countercultural. So unheard of. Their marriage, however, has also been marked by tragedy, as they talked about at the Athletes In Action breakfast on Saturday. In 1988, Bart’s youngest son, Bret, passed away at 24 years old. At the breakfast, they talked about how they relied on their faith and each other to pull one another through the tragedy. We didn’t get much time with Bart because he was crowded by the media, but I wanted to pick his brain about his outlook on family and was able to squeeze a couple questions in.

As a Colts fan, I especially enjoyed talking to Super Bowl XLII champion David Tyree — the New York Giants receiver with gum on his helmet that made The Catch, the man that single-handedly tainted the Patriots’ perfect season (evil laugh). He was a special guest at the 2012 Super Bowl Breakfast, and when we interviewed him in the media room, I, uh, talked a little too much. Then again, I’m sure he wanted to know that The Catch was the third best moment of my life…

The last person we talked to was someone I’ve really grown to respect over the last year: former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell. We interviewed Coach Caldwell three times this year: at the All Pro Dad event in Indianapolis back in the fall, for The Jersey Effect as the Colts’ season was winding down, and at the AIA breakfast after he’d been hired by John Harbaugh as the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterbacks coach. He and his daughter, Natalie, were extremely gracious for his story “Learning to Swim” in the Winter 2012 issue, and Coach Caldwell even took the time to respond to my email after we interviewed him for five minutes at the All Pro DAd event…which really surprised me considering the stress he was under this year in Indianapolis. At the AIA breakfast, I wanted to talk to him about his transition from Indianapolis to Baltimore and what it’s taught him in his walk with God.

That concludes our Sports Spectrum Super Bowl coverage. Share the videos we gathered from Indianapolis with your family and friends as we try to highlight where faith and sports connect.