TO REACH THOSE who have become too far removed from the language, culture and ethos of the ancient Middle East, a new translation of the Holy Bible tailored for the academic community, is being released today by the University of North Carolina Press.
Some of the delightful new takes on the Holy Word in "Good News for (American) Football Fans" include The Lineman's Prayer, The Parable of the Unjust Referee, The Revelation of the Final Booth Replay and this reader’s favorite: The Head Coach's Prayer.
Here is just sample of the great passages in this refreshing new perspective from the world’s most popular book.
Blessed are you when you travel to an opponent's home stadium. When Wahoos try to cleverly insult you, when Wolfpackers crudely talk smack to you, when Demon Deacons falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of your Tar Heel apparel, rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in beautiful Kenan Stadium, for in the same way they persecuted the followers of Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice who went before you.
Do not throw flags, or you too will be flagged. For in the same way you call for penalties on others, so will penalties be called on you. And so the down and distance you demand, it too will be walked out against you.
Consider the ball fallen loose on the field; doesn't the Head Coach consider it worth more than many in bags on the sideline?
Play 23 (The Lineman's Prayer)
The LORD is my position coach, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in the endzone;
He leads me to a Big Fogg® Misting System,
when the August suicide drills are complete.
He teaches me proper blocking schemes.
He guides me in paths of penalty-free play
for His reputation's sake.
Even though I walk
through Clemson's Death Valley,
I will fear no cut blocks,
for the training staff they are with me;
Your ankle wraps and Your knee braces,
they comfort me.
You prepare a training table before me,
even on the road.
You provide bread when I am carbo-loading;
the Gatorade® overflows.
Surely weight gain and increased flexibility will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the weight room of the LORD
Oh, fans, why do you look at the little sticker on your opponent's face and pay no attention to the facepaint on your own? How can you say to an opposing fan, 'Let me take the sticker off your cheek,' when your whole body is painted blue? You fool, first take the Ram's head off your own head, and then you will see clearly to remove the little devil from your opponent's forehead.
Then the Head Coach said to his players: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear -- the Educational Foundation will provide for you all. And isn't life is more than food, and the body more than clothes? Behold the players of the National Football League, even those of Cincinnati's Bengals: They do not block or tackle, and though many don't have guaranteed contracts; their franchise feeds them. And how much more valuable are you Tar Heels to the Ram's Club than the Bungles to their owners!
Do not give to the Hokkie fan what is sacred; sell not your 40-yard-line tickets to the Wolfpack backer. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces, or, at the very least, lean over you and say vulgar things.
Who of you by worrying can add a timeout to a game? If you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the two-minute drill when the whistle for the fourth quarter hasn't yet blown?
The Head Coach's Prayer
This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Head Coach which is in the Coaches' Box,
May Your name be in the Hall of Fame,
May Your dynasty come,
Your plays be run
On the playing field as they are in Your scrimmages.
Give us this day Your scouting report.
Forgive us our holding penalties,
Even as we break the holds of those that hold against us.
And let us not be tempted by hard snap counts,
But deliver us from the blitzers,
For You are always Coach of the Year
And may Your contract extension be forever."
Gary D. Gaddy never prayed harder than when a free kick was coming down in his direction during his very brief stint as a JV football player at George Washington High School in the fall of 1966.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 30, 2008.
Copyright 2008 Gary D. Gaddy