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Super Bowl: Coach ponders wins, losses for Christ

[SLIDESHOW=39557]PHOENIX (BP) — Going into Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup against the New England Patriots, Sherman Smith shared how victory on the football field without Jesus Christ would be, for him, a “serious waste of time.”

“I’ll never forget when I got drafted in [1976], my father told me, ‘Son, remember this, playing professional football is how you make your living but it’s not your life because it’s gonna end. You’re gonna stop playing one day and life will continue.’ I never forgot that,” the running backs coach for the Seattle Seahawks said.

Today, Smith will tell you he’s living a coach’s dream on a team that won last year’s Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. But he said he’s thankful life isn’t all about winning and losing football games.

“If this were just about winning a football game, this is a serious waste of time,” Sherman told Baptist Press during Super Bowl Media Day (Jan. 27) at the US Airways Center in Phoenix.

“But it’s bigger than that,” he said. “Absolutely, no doubt. This is about [His] glory. This is about [His] Kingdom. This is what it’s all about.”

And on the Seahawks, Smith is not alone in being vocal about his faith. Fellow Seahawks Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Clint Gresham and fellow coach Rocky Seto all spoke about their faith in Christ on Media Day.

But for Sherman, life wasn’t always about honoring the Lord on and off the football field. Sherman shared his testimony last year in a video, “The Making of a Champion,” which also featured the testimonies of Wilson, Okung, Gresham, Chris Maragos, who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Seto.

In the video that has attracted more than 600,000 views on Youtube, Smith recalled the emptiness he once felt while playing in the NFL — and even during his college years at Miami University of Ohio.

“I was in college and had a very successful career there,” he said. “We went 33-1-1. I was the starting quarterback. People were telling me I was going to get drafted in the NFL in all that stuff. And I just remember walking around campus and just saying, ‘Man, there’s got to be more to it than this’ — a feeling of emptiness. I loved the winning but still there was something missing in my life.”

The former second-round draft pick, who went on to play eight seasons for the Seahawks as a running back, said his life began to change when he tried to console middle linebacker Ken Hutcherson, whose career had ended unexpectedly to a knee injury.

“… I walked in that locker room to comfort him and be a friend to him and he comforted me,” Smith recalled.

“He said to me … ‘Sherm … I’m excited to see what God has planned for my life.’ That’s what he told me, ‘I’m a Christian and nothing happens in my life that’s not filtered through God’s hands first.’ And I knew I didn’t have that confidence. I knew if that were me, my world would have fallen apart.”

Smith wanted to know more and soon put his trust in Jesus Christ.

Whether the Seattle Seahawks win or lose on Sunday, Smith said he is confident opportunities will come to share with others how Christ has changed his life.

Smith still remembers the pain of a gut-wrenching Super Bowl defeat when he was a running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans. In 2000, the Titans came up about a yard short of tying the game and going into overtime against the Rams. They lost the game 23-16. Smith recalled numerous opportunities to share how he coped with the loss.

“In Tennessee, people wanted to hear about how’d you deal with it, and winning [the Super Bowl with Seattle] people want to hear the same question,” said Smith, who has coached with the Seattle Seahawks since 2010.

“So I found really a balance between the two — the winning and the losing and having opportunities by God.”

In The Making of a Champion video Sherman shared, “The world we live in today, we get so many people telling you how you should live, what it means to be successful, what you should strive after. And I just think you have to have a desire to want to know why you are here. … A lot of this other stuff is not as promising as everyone says but God’s Word is solid. The foundation is solid. The promises are solid. The future is solid.”

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  • Shawn Hendricks