on August 21, 2012
Curtis Eichelberger's Men of Sunday is not what I thought it was going to be. That's not to say its bad; its just not what I expected. Typically, the sports/Christianity books I've read tell the story of an athlete/coach/team and their faith may be mentioned to varying degrees. Reading the names of the NFL players and coaches associated with this book, I expected much of the same.
Instead, I ended up with something completely new, at least in my opinion. Men of Sunday isn't simply how various people in the NFL are Christians. It deals much more with the role of faith in the NFL, using the people as examples. As I read, I kept trying to figure out how I would describe Men of Sunday to someone and I was continually stumped. What I've come up with is this: Men of Sunday is a book for people involved with, or soon to be involved with, professional football. It reads almost like a blueprint or workshop wherein the role of faith in all aspects of NFL life is described. Eichelberger interviewed hundreds of current and former players, coaches, and the wives of players.
Chapters include discussions about how a Christian can play such a violent game; how players (and their wives) use faith as a guard against groupies and other poor lifestyle choices; how wives use Bible studies to strengthen their families; the role faith plays in the transition from player to civilian; and how faith helps players deal with unexpected tragedy in their lives.
I found myself liking some of the chapters more than others, simply because of my interest level in the topics discussed. One highlight for me was reading about Ray Lewis's view on servant leadership. Also, Trent Dilfer's heartbreaking story about the loss of his son is worth the price of the book. Rarely do you see an athlete open up so completely about something so personal.
Overall, Men of Sunday was an interesting read. I would recommend it to people involved with the NFL, or people who are really curious about how faith works in professional football.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
on November 13, 2012
Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger is a real look at football and faith in the NFL. It focuses on the how the coaches, players, and families involved in it deal with the temptations that the NFL brings with it, and faith.
Men of Sunday isn't a simple book about football and faith. It does obviously focus on how the people involved within the NFL use faith as a tool to keep them grounded and away from temptations thrown at them, but it also shows how faith can help people involved in any professional sport to stay grounded.
Football is a violent sport, and many people wonder how someone with such faith could be in such a sport. This book takes a look at that, in a way you may not expect. The players become celebrities and role models, even though they are just playing a game that they love. Often players that don't have faith or ones that are too tempted by groupies, riches, and drugs, stray very far off of their moral path along the way. Faith can be intercepted back into their lives though, and make for some amazing last-minute touchdown transformations.
There are inspiring and uplifting stories in the book, and also heartbreaking ones. Each story featured in the book is worth reading and will give you a new outlook on the NFL. I highly recommend this book for fans of the NFL.
* Thank you to the publisher of Men of Sunday, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review as part of their Book Sneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.
on December 21, 2013
Perfect for any man who wants to read about football players that are true role models. We don't hear about these men, because bad behavior- even, illegal behavior- is the only news published about athletes. Here's reason to believe that football is the All-American sport!
on September 5, 2014
Great book! Love the insight from all the different perspectives. Read it myself, had my husband read it, then bought another copy for a young man my husband mentors who has a great chance of getting into the NFL. Great advice and life lessons!
on August 6, 2013
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Booksneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
Given my interest in the intersection of faith and sports and public culture, it is no surprise that I read this book with some interest. The author claims in the acknowledgements section to have taken six years to collect the stories for this book, and that is easy to believe, given the rich and varied tapestry of stories that deal with everything from the football wives of the Arizona Cardinals holding weekly bible studies and then giving a cold shoulder to the groupies at football parties to the origin of praying after touchdowns (it didn't start with Tebowing, and Tim Tebow, surprisingly enough, isn't mentioned until becoming one of the central people, along with Ray Lewis, in the book's final chapter on leadership). Despite the length of time that this book took to research and write, some elements of it appear a bit sloppy. For example, the last part of the last chapter examines the successful seasons of various professed Christians after the lockout of 2011, and has the Steelers losing twice in the playoffs (once to the Tebow-led Broncos in the wild card round and then again to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl, which had happened at the end of the previous season), an error that was irksome to me as a Steelers fan and also a bit disruptive to the author's credibility in crafting a pro-faith narrative.
That blunder reveals one of the tensions within this book, and that is a tension between the desire to show faith as a positive element in the lives and careers of professed Christians, a group as diverse as Ray Lewis and Mike Singletary and Mark Brunell and many, many others (some famous, some obscure, as this book casts a wide net in looking at the role of faith in football) and the desire to show how Christians have to struggle with the same problems and temptations as everyone else, not always with success. Overall, except in some instances (like the closing of the book), this tension does not harm the book, but rather expresses the sort of tension that is commonly felt by believers between enjoying the blessings that come from belief and having to build strength of character and faith to endure the tribulations that come from life as a person striving to follow God (however we understand His ways) in a clearly fallen and depraved world. There are some very heartbreaking stories in this book, including miscarriages and the death of children, besides the omnipresent reality of injury and abrupt career changes and the financial and emotional problems that often result from the loss of the stability and order of a football career. Likewise, this book also forthrightly comments on the irony of so many professed believers playing a violent game that often leads to serious injuries.
The fact that this narrative is constructed so much around narratives gives it a richness and variety that provides a great deal of insight into the minds and lives of professed Christians, even as the stories bounce off of each other in unexpected ways. Most players admit struggles with the entitlement mentality that comes from being the "big man on campus" with access to parties and easy no-strings-attached-except-child-support-payments-sex (a problem that most of us would struggle with even if we cannot remotely relate to) while also dealing with questions of having to build faith in God's will when dealing with injuries, trades, being cut from the team, or the inevitability of retirement and the financial problems that often result from a sudden loss of a massive income. While not all of these problems are likely to be relatable to the reading audience of this work (which ought to be wide), the stories do make the "men of Sunday" talked about real life flesh and blood humans rather than the gridiron gladiators that they may seem to be.
As a humane book written well and with an elegant and sympathetic prose style, this book does much to explain the tensions within our culture between sports and religion, even if it does not comment directly on the fact that for many football is a religion on its own in competition with Christianity, as well as the fact that football is a key element in the "circus" element of sports that serves no less vital social functions for our nation as the gladiatorial games played for ancient Rome some two millennia ago when Christians were also a part of the entertainment. Life is full of ironies, and if this book does not explore all of or even the most serious of those ironies, it does show that football players struggle with the same ethical dilemmas of living out their faith that everyone else does, and that task alone makes this a worthwhile and enjoyable read for any fan of American football who also is interested in the public role of Christianity in contemporary American society, and a read that is full of scriptural references given in interviews by football players themselves besides being a treasure trove of deeply personal conversations about faith and football.
on August 31, 2013
I requested to read and review Men of Sunday: How Faith Guides the Players, Coaches, and Wives of the NFL by Curtis Eichelberger near the end of the last football season. It's taken me awhile to finish it, but the start of the 2013-14 football season seemed like a prefect time to bring this book back out.
Men of Sunday is a really interesting read as it looks at the place faith in God takes in the world of those in the NFL. For me, it was a comforting discovery as a Christian and a fan of football, because I have struggled many times with the way it often feels like football trumps God in the lives of many as soon as the season begins.
It didn't take long to get sucked into the book, and it really grabbed can my attention as it delved into how a Christian can play such a violent game, in which they know they will at some point injure a fellow player. "...while the game is violent, all players on the field know the rules and agree to share the risks equally..." p. 37
From there it took a good long look at how faith impacts players, coaches and their families through interviews and personal stories. It's a true study of the intersection of football and faith. I learned so much about many players and coaches that I had only known by name and team.
If you love football and want to take a look at the players outside of stats, scores and the usual media coverage, I recommend checking out Men of Sunday and get another perspective of the sport and its players.
***I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program.
on December 10, 2013
This book was not really what I expected it would be, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I expected it to be more like a Chicken Soup for the Soul for Football Fans. A small insight into their Christian lives, and it is, but it is so much more.
Not only do we get to read about some of their personal walks with God, we also get a feeling of what it is like for them on the field. How some of them struggle with how to be a Christian while playing a pretty brutal game, and how they work through it all.
As a Christian football fan, I was anxious to learn about my fellow Christians and stars of the NFL world. I was pleased to read about the team pastors, coaches, and wives. I was sucked into their world for just a few minutes while I read their stories. My heart broke as they dealt with horrible loss, and at the same time rejoiced for them when God answered their prayers.
I don't typically re-read books, but this is one that I know I will read again. It is a great book, and you would be crazy not to pick one up for yourself.
I received a free copy of this book via BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, BookSneeze.
on March 20, 2013
I am an avid football fan! LOVE IT!! LOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!!!!! From August through February Super Bowl, I am the one on the couch while my husband is the one taking care of kids and in the kitchen. He doesn't care much for football...he is all about hockey...but me....there is no greater sport in my opinion!!! I really don't know why I love the sport. Maybe because I loved spending time with my dad...and that is what we did, we watched football and tinkered with cars! Regardless of why I love it, I have another....greater love and that is of Jesus Christ. When you put football and Jesus in the same book....BAM! I AM SOLD!!! Men of Sunday was just what I needed to read. I needed to know that there are men on the field every Sunday playing my favorite sport and playing it to give God the Glory! That is AWESOME! I LOVED the interviews that were done in this book! Not only did I learn a ton about some of my favorite people and even some that I had no idea were Christians...but I also learned a lot about myself and leadership roles. I am not saying that I thought every one in the NFL was a heathen before this book. I knew that there were Christians who played ball, just like there are Christians in Hollywood...but sadly, they are few and far between...or at least they say their Christians, but they certainly don't live their lives that way. These men and wives of the NFL in this book DOOOOOO live their lives in a Christ like way and I think that is SOOO cool! I was already a fan of many of the people in this book....but there are a few more that I am going to be keeping my eye on now! Why? Not just because they are Christians....we are told to love everyone...but because through this book, I have learned a lot for myself personally and I have the men and wives of Sunday to thank for it! Thanks to Curtis Eichelberger for bringing two of my passions into one!!!!!!
HIGHLY recommend this book....if your football player....and honestly...even if you're not!
Buy your copy HERE!
on December 1, 2012
I have found that we often perceive our stars and coaches as men who care little about anyone but themselves. We hear from the media about all the negative stories about professional sports but books like Men of Sunday give us a whole new image of the good men involved in pro football. I am impressed at how many of them put their faith first ahead of just the desire to win and keep their job. Good book for the average fan to read and appreciate all the good people in football.
on January 15, 2013
read this book, I didn't know that many coaches and owners viewed Christian players as weak. There has been so much attention in the media about NFL members' faith in the last few years that I thought it was always something that was accepted. It does show a major shift when it was something that was once looked upon as a character flaw and now is more accepted.
The one thing that I loved about this book was that it showed NFL players in a positive light. So many stories are all hype or very negative and don't real life of the player. It was nice to read that there are some really stand up guys in the NFL since you mostly hear about the players whose personal lives are a mess.
My favorite part of the book dealt with family and temptation. I never thought about how difficult it would be to be married to a NFL player when women are throwing themselves at your husband right in front of you. And while any man can cheat on their spouse, women are not constantly throwing them self at my husband making temptation and jealousy that much worse. The book looked at this from the players' and wives' perspectives.
One thing that I didn't like about this book was that you couldn't skip to read what your favorite coach or player had to say in their interview. The book is compiled into chapters by topic, not by the interview. I would have liked to read certain players and coaches' interviews first and then gone back and read the book.
I recommend this book to any Christian who loves football. I think it would be a great gift for Father's Day or as a birthday present.
Disclaimer-I received this book as a Book Sneeze blogger. All opinions are mine and no further compensation was provided.