Kurt Coleman Ohio State’s Religiously Faithful Safety

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By Paul M. Banks

In Monroe Ohio, about halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton, there’s an enormous Jesus statue in front of a church bordering Interstate 75. It rivals the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue on Corcavado mountain overlooking Rio De Janiero in size. It’s indicative of Ohio’s place as the buckle of the Bible Belt. The Creationist “museum” (or whatever it is) is also located on the same highway exit as Cincinnati’s main airport. And Ohio’s biggest and best college football team, THE Ohio State University Buckeyes, have their share of Christy individuals, including preseason All-American safety Kurt Coleman.kurtcoleman

Coleman, 5’11” 190 with 4.4 speed, is on the 2009 Lott Trophy watch list and a member of the FCA, Football Chaplain’s Association. He’s also active in public speaking and outreach with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action, an Evangelical based group. “If I’m free, I’ll go speak to a church. It’s a great experience to grow as a person, to help share experience with others and help other people out,” Coleman said at Big Ten Media Day.

Some of the biggest and best Buckeyes on this year’s team –as well as last year’s squad- are extremely Christian, which is part of a much publicized trend in college football. The sport’s most high profile player, Tim Tebow, is essentially Billy Graham with a penchant for running the spread-option.  Tebow is NEVER criticized by anyone in the mainstream media, (see the “Rome is Burning” episode when Jim Rome slurped him for two whole minutes in describing Tim Tebow’s cool response to a very inappropriately sexual question at SEC Media Day)  and subsequently, the media has made more stories about Jesus in football.

This is nothing new of course, as College Football is at its most popular in the South (the proverbial Bible Belt) and many of the premier players emerge from poverty-stricken areas, where church is often the community’s primary focal point. If Jesus were alive today, I don’t think he’d be in favor of much of what goes on in the collegiate athletic cesspool, so the infusion of faith and worship can be a welcome departure from under-the-table payoffs and prostitution slush funds.fieldgoal_jesus1

Coleman told me what he talks about in churches. “A lot of it is how I came to faith, testimonials. For anybody who’s come to faith, the first they’ve said ‘this is what I need in my life at this time.’ I share that and I share tidbits in how you can keep growing in your faith.” Hope and prayer has been a big part of Coleman’s life, especially when his hero and confidant, his father came down with a rare form of male breast cancer. It was trying, but Coleman’s father pulled through just fine; now cancer-free after a treatment that involved little to no side effects. And this fall Kurt will play his final season with more mental resiliency. Last season he was third on the team in tackles despite missing two games from injury. In the NFL, he projects as a top 20 corner prospect, (his height will force him to move over from safety) and a 5-6th round draft pick.

Minnesota Minutes

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With Andy Weise

Vikings:

In the latest twist, Brett Favre did in fact have surgery on his injured shoulder. What’s next? Seriously, I am not even trying to follow this thing anymore because Brett Favre wearing purple is so far fetched that until he actually signs on the dotted line, it’s too hard to imagine. It’s almost like the Vikings know about this whole thing anyways, they keep talking about how Sage and Tarvaris are doing well in the OTAs- but nothing ever about who is winning the race to the starting QB position. We here in Minneapolis even got a story this past week about John David Booty having a great offseason. In my opinion, Booty should stay as the third QB if Favre signs and whoever loses the backup job, gets the ax.

Kevin and Fat Pat Williams sure seem like they won’t miss any time next year. That’s great news considering the dominance of the run defense the Vikings have had for the last several years.


Twins:

Joe Mauer isn’t on steroids, he’s just damn good. Experts have raved about this guy since the dinosaurs became extinct and for a guy who turned 26 in April and already won two AL batting titles, I would say he’s doing fairly well. The power was something that was always going to come, yet some Twins fans hate on the guy because at times he’s looked like he’d rather get a base hit then try to swing for the fences. I’ll never understand the negative press he gets as “Baby Jesus” (a nickname given to him by a popular talk show host because of how people care for the sometimes injury prone, St. Paul native). Contrary to popular reports, his mother’s name isn’t Mary and he won’t be the first player to draw a walk in the home run derby (if he gets placed in the event). The next question that plagues the inconsistent Twins is: can they sign Mauer or will he follow the likes of Torii Hunter and Johan Santana to the bigger markets? What team wouldn’t want Mauer? I wouldn’t be surprised if they Twins address his contract during this season. There’s another Joe I also hope gets an extension: Joe Crede. My man-crush on him is through the roof and he’s been able to fill a much needed void at third base this year despite missing some games because of numerous injuries and not having a good batting average.


Timberwolves:

David Kahn (it’s ok to picture Khan from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan), is the new boss and he continues to wine and dine the man he replaced: Kevin McHale. As time continues to go on, it looks more and more likely that McHale will coach next year. Much of the old front office and coaching staff are handling all the pre-draft workouts, which in my opinion is kind of weird if Kahn ends up replacing everyone. It almost seems like a way for him to make excuses his first year or two, he can blame these guys if they screw up even though he’s the guy that is supposedly going to call the shots.

So what do the Wolves do with the draft? Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan seem like two good options at No. 6. The Wolves have to look at upgrading both the point and shooting guard spots. Randy Foye could still end up being a starter but long-term, he might be best as the sixth man. Like the way the Bulls use Ben Gordon or the Mavericks use Jason Terry: instant offense. Foye’s entering his fourth year and the Wolves still don’t know what exactly he brings to the table besides inconsistent play. Kahn needs to explore all options including trading expiring contracts (Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal & Mark Madsen) for proven talent. Guys like Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert and Kirk Hinrich are all rumored to be available. The Wolves should target someone who can come in and help out immediately. I’m not incredibly optimistic at this point, but I’m not expecting anything great either so maybe something works out.

Wild:minnwild

The hiring of Chuck Fletcher was received well locally. Now the hiring of the coach is the next big deal with Minnesota native Todd Richards being rumored for the job. Maybe it’s because he seems to have the right resume for the job or that he was born in Crystal, Minnesota where my future wife and I just bought a house, but it just seems like Richards should be the next guy calling the shots. The hope is that the Wild have done enough to convince Marian Gaborik that he needs to remain in Minnesota. As a casual Wild fan, the hiring of Fletcher and hopefully soon of Richards, can only do good things for the franchise. Let’s put this in terms of other sports, for the Wolves this is probably like hiring Dennis Lindsey (Assistant GM San Antonio Spurs) as the GM and Tom Thibodeau (assistant coach of the Celtics) as the head coach. This whole “Minnesota the state of hockey” thing was fun for awhile, but now the Wild need to get really serious and compete for championships year in, year out like the other powerhouses of the league (Detroit Red Wings being the best example).