The Truth, Mainly - 11/21/1994

Really Truly Christian football team's coach sees faith as winning weapon
by Leon Satterfield

Hammerin' Herman Hermanski, head coach of the Panhandle A&M Pit Bulls, was nobody's fool. He paid attention back in '94 when Colorado beat Michigan 27-26 with a 64-yard pass on the last play of the game. And he sat up and took notice when Colorado's coach, Bill McCartney, explained it by saying "That was the Lord."

"Christianity's the way to go," Hammerin' Herman told his coaching staff. "Christianity will get us into a bowl game next year."

Even after Colorado lost a game 7-24, Hammerin' Herman didn't lose his faith in Christianity as a winning weapon.

He knew skeptics in the English Department would say that while it's technically possible for a God who keeps an eye on half-ounce falling sparrows to also keep an eye on 230-pound falling fullbacks, She probably doesn't give much of a damn who wins the game.

But Hammerin' Herman was no skeptic. He saw Colorado's defeat only as evidence that the Buffaloes were insufficiently Christian. They'd had a good thing going; they just didn't have it going far enough.

So he decided the '95 Pit Bulls would be a Really Truly Christian football team.

Rather than recruiting high school stars, Hammerin' Herman advertised in church bulletins: "Wanted: big, strong, fast Really Truly Christian football players. Must be committed to victory through Jesus."

He got 83 recruits, some of them weighing 300 pounds. They looked like nice fellas. Hammerin' Herman imagined them all flying off to a bowl game singing the sweet strains of "Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life."

The trouble started during the two-a-days in August of '95 when Hammerin' Herman urged his interior linemen to be more aggressive with the blocking sled and they began speaking in King James English.

"Blessed are the meek," the pulling guard said, looking like a 275- pound lamb wearing a football helmet, "for they shall inherit the earth."

The linebackers politely asked to be excused from the Maiming and Mayhem drills because, they said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

"Smack those wide receivers," the coaches told the cornerbacks. "Cut 'em down. Lay 'em out. You're at war with them."

"Blessed are the peacemakers," said the cornerbacks, "for they shall be called the children of God."

The team consensus was that they should love their enemy.

"But your enemy is evil!" Hammerin' Herman hollered. "They say you wear silk undies."

"Resist not evil," the tight ends said, smiling beatifically, "but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

"Bless them that curse you," the fullbacks murmured. "Do good to them that hate you."

So going into the opening game, Hammerin' Herman wasn't sure having a team of Really Truly Christian players was such a good idea. But he remembered Colorado's miracle pass against Michigan and he had hope.

"You guys just gotta get mean," he told the players right before the opening kickoff. "Don't you wanna play in the NFL? Don't you wanna get rich?"

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," the quarterback explained, "than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

"OK, this is it," Hammerin' Herman said. "Divine Intervention time. Let's ask God to help us kick some butt. Gather round the team chaplain for group prayer on the 50-yard line."

"When thou prayest," the monster back said, "thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray on street corners that they may be seen of men. When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and shut the door."

"But how will the fans know you're a Really Truly Christian football team if you don't pray in front of them?" Hammerin' Herman asked. "Bill McCartney prays to a full stadium. He's a Really Truly Christian football coach, isn't he?"

"Beware of false prophets," the nose guard said, raising his eyebrows. "Not everyone that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Hammerin' Herman gave up then. He let his Really Truly Christian team play like Really Truly Christians. They lost 3-87, and went on to an 0- 10 season.

Because Hammerin' Herman was nobody's fool, he called a press conference to announce that in '96 the Pit Bulls would play according to the gospel of Vince Lombardi, Patron Saint of Smash Mouth. Then he gulped and said "I know this is gonna sound funny, but sometimes I wonder if there's any connection between playing football and being Really Truly Christian."

And because even sportswriters sometimes get a bellyful of pigskin piety, they gave Coach Hammerin' Herman Hermanski a standing ovation.


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.

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