Fran Tarkenton Rips Mark Richt For His Faith

I’ve been in Atlanta all week taking a class on Worship Leadership (hence my lack of blogging). I must say it was one of the best classes I have taken at NOBTS thus far.

Going to Atlanta always serves to remind me of a few things. I am reminded to thank God that I do not live in Atlanta. Please don’t get me wrong, I miss Georgia and have great memories of Atlanta. A notable one being our family spending almost every July 4 in the ‘80’s at Fulton County Stadium watching the Braves get drubbed followed by some awesome fireworks - and a really late night burger at Steak and Shake in Marietta. But Atlanta has become a human ant farm; 7,000 people per square inch. While in Atlanta I am also reminded what sports radio is like without Alabama and Auburn; really nice!

This morning Fran Tarkenton, former UGA QB great, was interviewed on a radio show called “The Rude Awakening.” For about ten minutes Fran went on a rant about UGA coach Mark Richt. One of his early rants was that while Richt is a, “great Christian man,” no one really cared about his religious views, “he was hired to coach football.” Tarkenton demonstrated his point by asking the hosts of the radio show if they knew the religious views of either coach in the BCS National Championship Game, Nick Saban, Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), or Mike Smith (coach of the Atlanta Falcons). Tarkenton’s point (amongst other things) was that when it came to the religious views of our football coaches, we shouldn’t hear of it or even care. He insinuated that Mark Richt’s dedication to Christ may be connected to two seasons of bad football. My interpretation of Tarkenton’s comments is that he was suggesting that because Richt went on “missions” and did so much to live out his faith that he was failing as the University of Georgia’s football coach.

While UGA football hasn’t done so well over the last two seasons, I am still a Mark Richt fan. I appreciate the fact that he is an outspoken Christian, faithful to his family, and missional with his life. I am grateful that he is a man who has made football a great part of his life, but who lives for Someone greater.

What Fran Tarkenton, aside from his idiotic connections between bad seasons and faith, did for me, was to remind me of what many people don’t understand about the Christian faith. That if you truly live for Christ, people will know your religious views. If any of the men Tarkenton mentioned profess to be Christians and their fans, the media, and radio hosts do not know it, their silence is not a success, but a miserable failure. Even within the church, men have been deceived to believe that while they may be open about their faith on Sunday, they are free to go incognito the rest of the week. This is not merely deception, it is blatant disobedience to Christ. If a man is in Christ, it will be obvious. He will be faithful to his family, missional with his life, and vocal about his faith. We say and do what we believe.

Let me share with you what is important to the Atlanta sports radio station that I listened to (of which I do not know the name) during my ant farm commutes this week: marijuana, beer, comedic homosexual innuendoes, and half naked women. These were the themes the hosts seemed to freely weave into each of their conversations. With that I ask a simple question, Mr. Tarkenton, who is failing?


Anonymous said…
I, too, am a Mark Richt fan. Even if I wss not a dawg fan, I would still have great respect for Mark Richt and his openess about his faith. I think immediately of Bobby Bowden, former FSU coach, and his willingness to share his faith with Coach Richt. After a Florida State player was shot and killed in 1986, Bowden pointed to the seat the deceased player would normally sit in, before the murder. He asked members of his team if they knew where they would spend eternity if he died. Mark Richt didn't like the thought and the next morning talked with Bowden. The Florida State great took a Bible and led Richt to Christ.

These men are not great men because of the games they have won. They are shining examples of the love of Christ living through them. At the end of the day, Christ is all that matters! JW
Anonymous said…
What a joke. Anytime someone makes a comment about a christian they cry that their christianity is under attack or faith. Its just like brining up the race card. Let's focus on why uga isn't a good football team and not hiding behind your religon. If richt is so religous then let him do it fulltime. Fran was 100 percent correct, we don't know sabans religon, he may have the same faith as richt but doesn't wear it on his sleeve. I am so glad richt is saved but I am a uga alum and I want a coach who is focused on winning, and don't care what religon they are.
Brian Branam said…
I am not sure where people got the perception that Richt ever plays the "Christian card" as a way to avoid criticism as you state it, nor am I sure how being a Christian is an explanation for why things are not going well at UGA right now - that is the ignorance of Fran's statements.
Anonymous said…
I wasn't referring to richts response to fran because he didn't respond. I was referring to people of any belief who feel their faith is being attacked to distract from the real issue. Fran is 100 percent correct in his comments and he is a member of the bulldog nation. Richt is a hired man who can, and hopefully will be replaced. Just to add, isn't it all religious people like richt who praise god after success? Perhaps he needs to explain why the recent failures...
Brian Branam said…
Honestly, I used to idolize college football, if UGA lost it would impact my outlook on so many things. I spent way too much time tracking every nuance of the game. Several years ago I realized it is a great sport, but a terrible God.

In the end, Richt is not accountable to the Bulldog nation, none of us are. True, he works for them now, but what I appreciate about the man is that he lives for so much more in Jesus Christ.

At the same time, I think blaming bad seasons on someone's faith is a road none of us want to go down. Logically it leads to serious consequences for religious freedom.

I would encourage you to enjoy football (although the Falcons let us down last night as well) but realize that true life is found in Jesus Christ. When we get seek Him first, everything else falls into proper place and we get a much better perspective.

Galatians 2:20
Anonymous said…
What a Joke are you kidding me? You want a man to come and fill Richts place because of two less than normal UGA football seasons! You don't realize what Richt has done his last ten years. He is the best thing that has happened to UGA in a few decades and is doing things for and with players that are way more important than a win- loss record. He will get things back together he had two amazing players leave early and had to fill their shoes he is the greatest coach to ever be a part of Bulldog Nation and Fran Tarkenton Is absolutely insane for things he said!
Unknown said…
I am very happy Mark Richt is the Hurricane coach. He is a fine Christian man and coach.

He played at Miami with Jim Kelly, Kosar and Testaverde and under coach Snellenberger and it shows.
Unknown said…
Never ceases to amaze
Me when a so called Chrsitian rips on another Christian for openly sharing his faith

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