ARLINGTON, Texas (BP)–Unlike some of the young and often flashy multi-millionaires who come into the NFL each year, coaches tend to be older, more matured, and concerned with life lessons instead of six-figure bonuses.
That’s exactly what Green Bay Packers chaplain Troy Murphy has found in his two years of conducting Friday morning coaches’ Bible studies.
“Coaches have a more sober perspective, they have done more life,” Murphy said. “You can definitely connect with them quicker on a spiritual level than the players, because they are older and have seen more life.”
Among the Packers coaches who are getting their team ready for Super Bowl XLV Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers is defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
At age 60, he certainly learned plenty of life lessons. He has been hired and fired twice as an NFL first-time expansion head coach.
Capers is enjoying his first-ever trip to the Super Bowl as a head or assistant coach, but said his personal faith remains the centerpiece of everything he does.
“I’m very blessed to be able to be in the NFL for such a long time (25 years), but without my faith and my belief in God and religion I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
He set a bit of unwanted NFL history when he became the first coach to lead two expansion franchises, the Carolina Panthers and the Houston Texans, only to get fired after four years each time.
“I’ve always said coaches get too much of the credit and often too much of the blame. You’re never as good or as bad as people say, but you’ve got to have faith in God to be able to handle the ups and the downs because usually there are going to be more downs.”
Other Christians on the Packers staff are special team assistant Chad Morton, equipment manager Pepper Burruss and linebackers coach Kevin Greene.
Morton said his faith in God helped him through a difficult transition from a player in the league to an assistant coach.
“It’s easier to thank God when you want to do well in a game or you’re playing in a big spot. What happens when that is taken away? You still have to stay faithful.”
He credits his wife Tamra and his mother-in-law for keeping him committed through regular prayer and Bible study and involvement in his home church in Costa Verdes, California.
A regular spiritual schedule during Super Bowl week, Morton said, is critical.
“You just look at the history of the Super Bowl and people who got in trouble this week and you try to avoid that. You just need to be in your room with prayer to focus on what is important,” he said.
Morton said he linked up with Burruss earlier in the week at the Packer team hotel lobby to plan out a schedule.
“Pepper said, the schedule is changed a lot this week, but we need our Bible study. We need to be together.”
Said Murphy, the chaplain, “Coaches’ Bible study is on Friday morning. Coaches are a lot busier than players, and not always there, but Pepper Burruss is always there, [and] Chad, Kevin.”
During the 1990s, Capers spent some time coaching with the Steelers and worked with current Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. They developed a close friendship based on football and their faith in Christ.
“Well, Dick and I are very good friends. When we first went to Pittsburgh, we roomed together initially,” Capers said.
“We’re both from the same part of the country, both small-town Ohio guys. I have a great amount of admiration for Dick. When you think about what he’s done, I don’t think anybody else has done it, in terms of being a player who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame and now a coach.”
Art Stricklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent.