FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (BP)–Beyond their Super Bowl trophy, the Indianapolis Colts have had multiple coaches, players and playoff appearances the last eight years.
But they’ve only had one chaplain, Ken Johnson, who first came to the Colts in 2002 at the request of then-head coach Tony Dungy. Johnson has remained the team’s spiritual leader since Dungy’s good friend and fellow believer Jim Caldwell took over as head coach.
“The goal is the same — what is the moral compass of each player and how does that help them set a good foundation,” Johnson said at the beginning of Super Bowl XLIV festivities in soggy South Florida.
Johnson came to Indianapolis to work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in their Urban Outreach unit. He has since launched a speaking ministry in schools and churches and written a book about his experiences, “Journey to Excellence,” in which he recounts growing up in a drug-filled and dysfunctional household.
Johnson has been joined by his son KD, who uses his music ministry and rap skills to reach youth for Jesus.
But Johnson said his commitment and relationship with the Colts has remained strong during Caldwell’s first year at the helm.
“He is a good and godly man with a solid foundation,” Johnson said.
Because he has been with the team as long as or longer than many of the Colts players, they know they can confide in him. “I try to help players in tough times and just let them know that life happens at all times and you always have to be ready in Him,” he said.
Johnson, who played football at the University of Tulsa, enjoys seeing the players excel in competition and grow in their spiritual faith “because being a Christian gives you a special perspective that you need in today’s world.”
Despite having already garnered a Super Bowl title at this same Sun Life Stadium field three years ago and playing a New Orleans Saints team that has never been in the title game before, Johnson said when he stands before the Colts at the Saturday night chapel this week, he will remind them God calls for excellence in all that they do.
“I don’t pray for anything in my life that I don’t want God’s favor,” he said. “I want a good life with a good foundation.”
There is one other thing that is different about Johnson when he strolls around South Florida this week, encouraging the players and coaches and helping them get ready for another world championship opportunity.
On his finger, he has a large Super Bowl Ring, which the Colts gave to him in gratitude for his spiritual work and encouragement en route to their first Super Bowl title. “When they called and asked for my ring size, I was trying to be really cool, but I was excited to have something which recognized accomplishment and hard work.”
Art Stricklin is a sports correspondent for Baptist Press.