The Power Of The NFL Jersey
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, September 05 2012 @ 11:05 AM EDT
Super Bowl champ helps athletes, parents and coaches keep sports in proper perspective with help of Coach Dungy. Millions see them every week at their best. But, off the field, many professional football players are in trouble. According to USA Today, 78 percent of all NFL players are divorced, bankrupt or unemployed two years after leaving the game. And, NFL players are six times more likely to commit suicide.
These numbers aren’t surprising to Hunter Smith. The retired Indianapolis Colts punter and Super Bowl champion is taking a look into the hearts and minds of athletes who achieved Super Bowl success and the battles they faced. He and Darrin Gray, from Tony Dungy’s All-Pro Dad organization, have written The Jersey Effect, Beyond the World Championship presenting the stories of Super Bowl champions including Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, Ben Utecht, Matt Giordano, Dylan Gandy, Justin Snow, Clyde Christensen, Jim Caldwell and Tony Dungy who desired to reflect glory back to God by using their “jersey” and the platform God had given them to make a positive difference in the world.
“When athletes finish their careers, their importance is stripped away and they don’t see themselves as valuable,” says Smith. “That’s why we have the crisis we do in sports and why athletes are in the news after their careers are over. They receive attention and that makes them feel important again.”
Hunter believes the heart of the epidemic is importance versus value. Athletes are raised to believe they’re important. By their performance, athletes are conditioned to be invincible – it doesn’t last.
“After the Super Bowl, many of my teammates and I felt empty,” Smith says. “We felt important, no doubt. But there’s no value in a trophy. There’s only value at the cross.”
With a foreword by Tony Dungy, The Jersey Effect describes the night the Colts won the Super Bowl. Winning the biggest sporting event in the world was a great feeling. But, Hunter says, if the purpose of your jersey is to merely satisfy yourself, then your world becomes awfully small.
“I promise you that every believer and nonbeliever on that plane flying back to Indianapolis had this thought cross his mind: ‘There has to be more than this,’” he says.
For more information, visit www.JerseyEffect.org
About the authors
Hunter Smith is a 12-year NFL veteran, Super Bowl champion, public speaker, worship leader, pastor and Billboard Top 20 Christian AC singer/songwriter. Smith was a highly recruited, multi-sport standout from Sherman, Texas and two-time Texas All State selection in football. He was a highly recruited athlete and chose the University of Notre Dame where he played multiple positions, for legionary head coach, Lou Holtz. Hunter punted every game of his four-year career after winning the starting job as a freshman. Hunter graduated from Notre Dame in 1999 with degrees in Theology and Sociology. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, where he played for Tony Dungy. He received numerous honors including the NFL All-Rookie Team and has been named Pro Bowl Alternate 3 times throughout his career. During Smith’s 10 years with the Colts, the franchise recorded the winningest record of any NFL team in history over the span of a decade under the leadership of Tony Dungy, including winning Super Bowl XLI to cap off the 2006 season. Hunter signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins in 2009 where he has played the last 2 years of his career. Hunter became the only special teams player in NFL history to both run and pass for a touchdown in the same season.
Early in his career, Hunter met Chris Wilson. The two founded a band called Connersvine and were signed to INO records in Nashville. The band toured for several years. Hunter is now is an independent professional songwriter and lead singer for The Hunter Smith Band. He and his wife Jennifer reside in Zionsville, IN with their three children Josiah, Samuel and Lydia.
Darrin Gray works closely with NFL teams, coaches, players and alumni to create positive societal impact. As Director of Corporate Partnership for the national not-for-profit Family First, he has planned dozens of high-profile events with retired Super Bowl winning NFL Head Coach, Tony Dungy and many other NFL Coaches, Players and Alumni on behalf of that national fatherhood program called All Pro Dad. The program reaches millions each year with the help of prominent NFL spokesmen, NFL teams, media partners and corporate partners.
Darrin graduated with a B.A. in Theology from Hanover College in 1989. He co-founded a branding and marketing communications consultancy, Brandirect, which has served notable customers local and national customers many in the field of sports. Darrin served for 12 years at The Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s largest newspaper, and Gannett Publishing Inc., where he directed a large sales staff and was responsible for multiple divisions.
Darrin is a professional public speaker and is passionate about inspiring others to reach their ultimate potential. He serves on several not-for-profit boards including the National Association of Christian Athletes, Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau Board. Darrin and his wife of 17 years, Leslie, reside in Fishers, Indiana and have three children.