Veteran NFL player Benjamin Watson has made a name for himself off the field as a devout Christian, husband, father and author of a series of Facebook essays that have warmed the hearts of many Americans, whether they’re football fans or not. In the midst of the divisive and bitter national conversation about race, he’s a rare voice of reason, faith and hope.
Now Watson’s moving from social media to the printed page.
From his Facebook post about the project (link to the whole thing embedded below):
Why a book? I think it’s important that we advance discussion of the “hot topics” of our time, particularly the topic of race. I am hopeful this book will challenge people to have serious, healthy discussions about that topic. I’m hopeful that this book will encourage people of all races to discuss these important issues without fear of saying the wrong thing or insulting someone who doesn’t agree with you. I am confident that nearly all of you will agree with some of the things that I have written in the book while being opposed to, or seeing differently, other things that I have written from my personal perspective.
From today’s email:
TYNDALE MOMENTUM TO PUBLISH BOOK WITH NFL’S BENJAMIN WATSON
One of the nation’s most influential voices on race and religion will release Under Our Skin on November 17
CAROL STREAM, Ill. (August 20, 2015) — Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson), a veteran tight end for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, has rapidly become one of the most well-respected voices in American culture. His heartfelt and thoughtful essays on cultural hot topics such as the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the mass killing of churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, have sparked national discussions on race, class, and religion.
On November 17, 2015, Tyndale Momentum—an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (@TyndaleHouse), and the publisher of many New York Times bestsellers—will release Watson’s first book. Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race—and Getting Free from the
Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us (@watsonbook), which Watson will write with Ken Peterson, will give voice to the passionate and often conflicting feelings so many have about problems of race in our country, and it will offer wise and balanced reflections on issues and behavior on all sides
that need to be examined in the light of truth. Watson offers a balanced approach and a challenging perspective for us all. The book is represented by Legacy, LLC, in association with Maxx Sports & Entertainment (@MAXX_Talent). Additional information about the book is available at www.underourskinbook.com or http://goo.gl/3r7R1M.
“Tyndale Momentum is thrilled to have the opportunity to publish a book with Benjamin Watson,” said Jan Long Harris, publisher at Tyndale Momentum. “Benjamin has a well-earned reputation as a thoughtful, compassionate, intelligent leader. His essays have struck a chord with hundreds of thousands of people from diverse backgrounds. This book will give Benjamin the opportunity to explore in much greater depth the ideas and convictions that have already resonated so strongly with so many people. We believe that he will be one of the most influential voices in America in the coming years.”
On November 24, 2014, while typing into a notes application on his smartphone, Watson penned an essay on the highly controversial decision made by a Ferguson prosecutor not to charge Darren Wilson, a policeman with the Ferguson Police Department, with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old African American man. The decision sparked peaceful protests as well as rioting.
The Ferguson essay, which looked at the incident from the perspectives of both Wilson and Brown, was rapidly consumed by readers around the world and has been “liked” more than 860,000 times and shared more than 470,000 times on Facebook. The most-remembered line of the essay was, “It’s not a skin problem, it’s a sin problem.” Watson’s book will delve into the feelings that he referred to in his essay: anger, fear, embarrassment, sadness, sympathy, frustration, outrage, confusion, introspection, hopelessness, hopefulness, and courage.
In response to the essay, a variety of national news programs interviewed Watson to further the discussion on topics such as race, religion, and class.
In June 2015, Watson wrote an essay on the mass killing by a self-proclaimed white supremacist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Much like his essay on Ferguson, his post on this national tragedy thoughtfully addressed significant issues such as race and religion.
In his essays, Watson wrote with conviction, grace, and compassion. In doing so he was able to cross both cultural and political lines to advance healthier discussions on topics that often only lead to conflict. In Under Our Skin, Watson will address, with both candor and compassion, many of the most divisive cultural issues of our day.
Benjamin Watson is a twelve-year veteran of the National Football League and a tight end for the New Orleans Saints. The 34-year-old was a first-round selection of the New England Patriots in the 2004 NFL draft and was a member of the organization (2004–09) when it won Super Bowl XXXIX. He played for the Cleveland Browns from 2010 to 2012 and joined the New Orleans Saints in 2013. Watson played football at Duke before transferring to the University of Georgia, where he majored in finance. Benjamin is married to Kirsten Watson. They have five children.
Images: Courtesy Tyndale House Publishers; Benjamin Watson Official Facebook page