SAN DIEGO (BP)–Miami Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt was pretty desperate. The year was 1988 and Wannstedt was sitting under a palm tree in his backyard fairly miserable. After trying a number of solutions, including a one-day stint with a yoga instructor, Wannstedt was still unhappy.
Using a bit of deductive reasoning, Wannstedt determined that the problem in his life had something to do with God.
“I was empty after trying to come up with solutions to my unhappiness,” Wannstedt told more than 1,500 people attending the NFL’s 2003 Super Bowl Breakfast. “I got together with our team chaplain for a meeting in 1988 and learned that I needed to jump in the pool and let the Lord take control of my life.”
Wannstedt, along with his wife Jan, joined a host of sports celebrities at the Jan. 25 event to celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ and honor Trent Dilfer, winner of the 2003 Bart Starr Award for excellence in leadership and character.
Wannstedt was named head coach of the Dolphins in January 2000. In his 28th season of coaching at major colleges and in the NFL, he has been on 18 winning teams, 10 bowl teams, six NFL playoff teams and one Super Bowl championship. Wannstedt challenged the early morning audience to trust God during the difficult times in life.
“From a worldly perspective if you win everything [it] is fantastic, but if you lose, you go home and kick the dog,” he said. “Well, that’s not the case if you are a Christian. Things will change in life. The only certainty is that God is the same today, tomorrow and forever.”
Referencing 1 Timothy 6:17, Wannstedt said careers in the NFL come and go, but God’s love will stand forever.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,” he said, quoting the passage.
Former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Munoz said he was glad he gave his life to Jesus Christ, noting that fame can be short-lived in the NFL.
“My Lord and Savior is Jesus Christ,” he said. “God is great. He’s shown me so much mercy in my life.”
To the audience of athletes and business executives, Munoz asked what they were doing with what God had given them.
Gil Byrd, a past recipient of the Bart Starr Award and a former San Diego Charger, reminded the gathering that the Christian life is one of sacrifice.
“When I think about Christians I think of words like faith, family, leadership, mentor and legacy,” Byrd said.
Tennessee Titan coach Sherman Smith led Byrd to the Lord in 1983. “Sherman asked me if I really wanted to do it God’s way, and today I tell you that I really, really want to do it God’s way,” Byrd said.
Cris Carter, who finished his NFL career with the Dolphins, said he has learned that “whatever God has in store for my life is OK.”
“When I got sick, I said, ‘God, I’m so happy you chose me. I’m satisfied. If I go back to playing, that’s fine,'” said Carter, who left the NFL due to a dangerous kidney ailment. “But if I’m finished with my career, then that’s fine, too.”
With additional reporting by Michael Winn. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FEATURED AT BREAKFAST.