Tick, tick, tick, tick …

Allow me to indulge myself again in the world of faith and sports. Don’t worry, something important — politics — may show up.

A year ago, I started a rather personal post with these remarks:

“Hello. My name is Terry Mattingly, and I’m a Baylor University football fan.”

“Hi Terry.”

Well, I’m glad that I got that off my chest. I am a graduate of Baylor University and I graduated so long ago that I remember when they were really bad, then became amazingly good and won a Southwest Conference (may it rest in peace) title or two. …

As I have mentioned before, NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is my all-time favorite Baylor football player. To no one’s surprise, the great linebacker and coach quickly became a candidate for the head-coaching job at Baylor, which tends to come open every three or four years.

Well, it was a surprise that there were hints that Singletary wasn’t a very good fit for a small program on a Baptist campus in the very conservative town of Waco, Texas. Was he too conservative? Too professional? Too what?

But on many levels, Waco was certainly a better fit for this stunningly articulate African-American Christian than, well, San Francisco. This is why it is so interesting that the Hall of Fame linebacker has been handed — everyone keeps stressing that it is temporary — the reins of the San Francisco 49ers.

Can’t you hear the clock ticking in the media there? Singletary is an outspoken pro-lifer and that sound you hear is mouses clicking in the major newsrooms, frantically searching to see if he has made any pronouncements on you know what — Proposition 8. The African-American vote is always crucial in any election focusing on gay marriage.

So I will be stunned if the coach’s faith does not become an issue.

So this column in Santa Rosa may be a sign of things to come. Lowell Cohn’s piece at the Press-Democrat ran with the headline, “Face it, Niners don’t have a clue.” There, we read:

Presence in itself is vague and hard to define and it may or may not help win games. I honestly have no opinion on Singletary’s ability as head coach although his lack of experience is worrisome. But he was so short on specifics when presented with nuts-and-bolts questions. When someone asked how he can turn around the team, he replied, “I think that sometimes things happen that you can’t quite explain.” Presence.

When someone asked how things will be different, he replied, “When you say, ‘How do you change this?’ the question is difficult because I really don’t know what to go in and what button to press.” Presence.

Finally, he came up with this. “I believe that with God I can do anything.”

I admire people who have faith. I admire Singletary. But I question his theology. How does he personally know God will help him succeed in San Francisco? Why does he believe God favors him over, say, Holmgren who will be coaching at Candlestick on Sunday? Why does God smile only on Singletary’s side of the street?

That isn’t what Singletary said, of course. But never mind.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Jerry

    When I saw the headline “tick tick tick” I thought it was going to be a report on 60 minutes.

    I also have to say that not all of us out here in the SF Bay Area have a pride of hungry lions waiting for the incautious Christian to wander into our midst. Some of us keep a freezer full of meat so that the lions turn into contented kitties and thus more welcoming beasties.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Face it, Lowell Cohn doesn’t have a clue.

  • http://www.mikehickerson.com Mike Hickerson

    Those sound like every other quote I hear from new head coaches. Besides, it’s the middle of the season. No football coach could come into the middle of an NFL system and install a new system or make significant changes. Methinks Cohn is making a mountain out of a molehill.


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