Former Indianapolis Colts punter Hunter Smith has experienced the highs and lows of NFL life – from a Super Bowl XLI champion during his long stint with the Colts to a tough release in his final year with the Washington Redskins. Smith has written a wonderful book called The Jersey Effect: Beyond The World Championship with partner Darrin Gray of All-Pro Dad, a national fatherhood program. The book helps athletes, parents and coaches gain a proper perspective on sports and life.
The book also takes a look into the hearts and minds of athletes who achieved Super Bowl success and examines the battles they faced. It presents the stories of champions who desired to reflect glory back to God by using the platform God had given them to make a positive difference in the world. I sat down with the very talented Hunter Smith to talk faith, family, football and the Hunter Smith Band.
Q: What inspired the book The Jersey Effect?
A: We have gone haywire with the culture of athletics, this idol called athletics. We are trying to reverse this. We have decided that our children’s importance is based on their performance on the field. We have gone to great extremes to push them in their sports. To make it more about that than any other God-given purpose or destiny they could have, and through The Jersey Effect we are trying to provide a proper perspective on sports. God has more for us than just sports. Our culture says sports is everything, but God says He is everything. We are trying to direct people to a healthy relationship with God.
Q: How do you keep young people focused and grounded and sound with all the distractions in the home today?
A: My advice to parents is you have to model it, but if we are honest with ourselves, most parents … are not modeling.
Whether on or off the field, Hunter Smith encourages men to model faith for their families. His book, The Jersey Effect, covers using sports as a platform to bring glory to God.
We are watching television, listening to sports radio, and other entertainment all the time. We’re pushing our kids to be in travel leagues [and] play sports on Sunday mornings. If we want to see our kids value a life [of] serenity, godliness, value and margins, full of resting in God, and following God, we have to model it. Many are not doing a very good job right now.
Q: I covered the Colts Super Bowl teams closely. People often ask me who is the most spiritual football team I have been around. It is easily those Colts teams. Do you find that to be true?
A: That is probably true on a certain level. It’s funny. I hear all the time that all of our players and coaches on the Colts Super Bowl teams were Christians.
Actually, truth is it was a couple of handful of players. The great thing, and one of the messages of The Jersey Effect, is that a small light in a large dark room will light up the room.
Even though we were just a small group of guys, we were in love with Jesus and walking with him. We wanted to see God glorified through our lives, our career, and our seasons with the Colts. Because of that it cast a big light. God wants us to go and be light in the world!
Q: What about the Colts would few people know?
A: Their commitment, their tenderness with one another. Men tend to keep things close to the vest and keep quiet and private.
One of the key points from our team, coaching staff, and Coach [Tony] Dungy was about living a covenant lifestyle of relationship with one another. We actually loved each other and took care of each other, looked after each other. That’s a very rare thing. I never experienced that prior to that team.
Q: The Jersey Effect talks about the extreme ups and downs that come with playing professional football. Ups and downs are also true in real life. How do we teach our children about pushing through adversity and learning real success in life?
A: We value at all cost being comfortable. Everybody wants their kids to be the most successful. It’s important to remember that God sees success differently. For me [a difficult moment was] being released by the Redskins, and that being the end of my career … because of dropping a snap on a field goal, losing … in my final game and being cut. That was the final play of my career, really anticlimactic. In fact that would be tragic in the world’s eyes, especially after playing football [my] whole life. It wasn’t fun for me.
It was tough, but it had great impact on me. I grew more through it. In fact it had more impact on me than any success because I learned through it, grew through it.
Q: You are a diverse guy. You’re into music. Do you have the same passion for the Hunter Smith Band as you did for football? Or is it just a hobby?
A: This is not a hobby. It’s absolutely a passion. I [have]been writing and playing music for most [of] my life. It’s the way I express myself and a great way to reach people. I think that entertainment is of great value in the outreach process. That’s what we are. We are not a contemporary Christian band. We are a country rock band. The Hunter Smith Band is called to reach the world and be in the institutions of man, and reach people for Christ. That’s what we’re doing. Go to huntersmithband.com or Hunter Smith Band Facebook page.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is president of Sold Out Ministries. He hosts Sold Out Sports heard Saturday nights 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio, and is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email [email protected]. His website is soldouttv.com. He also is on Facebook at Roman Gabriel III Fan Page.)