Posts tagged Jeff Kemp

Boomer or Murphy: Whose side are you on?



Boomer or Murphy

I don’t like to run around and jump on bandwagons, but you probably saw the embarrassing stink that ESPN commentator Boomer Esiason caused when he railed against New York Mets outfielder Daniel Murphy. Murphy’s offense? Compromising his devotion to his team by missing two games to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. According to Esiason, Murphy should have insisted his wife schedule a C-section before the season started.

Public reaction was swift and strong about the imbalance between sports and family, but not against Murphy. Fans lowered the boom on Boomer, who also happens to be a family man (he’s been married to his wife Cheryl since 1986, and is a passionate dad).  To his credit, Boomer quickly and earnestly apologized, particularly for unnecessarily thrusting this couple’s life into the limelight.

Boomer’s not the only one in sports, media, entertainment, or business who would strongly criticize someone for not putting their professional duties and organizational duties first, particularly if you’re paid huge millions.

But Murphy’s decision reflects a change he has undergone in the past couple of years. His world used to revolve around baseball and himself. He poured everything into “being the man” in his sport, but two injury-plagued seasons brought him personal struggles that caused him to re-evaluate his identity and priorities. At that point, he recommitted his life to Christ and vowed not to let baseball define him.

Acting like Boomer or Murphy?

It’s  easy to criticize Boomer’s blatant disregard of the priority of being with your wife at the birth of your first (or any) child. You just don’t miss such a big event. But what about all the small things we do as husbands and fathers that elevate  our jobs over our family?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed to show up on time when I told my wife Stacy I’d be home for dinner, or just generally failed to show consideration for the one person who  gives so much for me. The lowlight was when I came back from a celebrity ski race  just long enough to drop off my laundry with Stacy and leave for a  boxing match in Las Vegas. Not my best chapter as a husband.

On my wedding day, if you showed me a list of the ways I would put Stacy and my boys in second place behind my work or hobbies, I probably would have been as critical of myself as you probably were of Boomer Esiason for his extreme position. It’s easy to let the pressures of life swallow up the best resolutions made as a new husband or father.

I fully understand the pressures that an intense job in a tight economy can inflict on the types of family choices a guy makes. Athletes feel it particularly intensely because they have teammates depending on them, coaches breathing down their necks, the critical gaze of fans, and a big contract that could disappear with an injury or release.

Sometimes the conflicts between work and home are unavoidable. When I was with the Seahawks, I remember a great tight end (who was also a great husband and father) joining the team mid-season. The week he arrived, we flew with the team for a  game against San Diego. We got phone calls from the airport that his wife was in labor. My wife was the only person she knew in town, so Stacy went with her to the hospital and was her coach in labor—what he would have been doing if he was there. The day-and-a-half road trip was just long enough to keep him from away from his wife as she gave birth in a brand new city 3,000 miles from home back east.

He hated it, but between the move, travel for the game and the timing of the labor, it was unavoidable. Daniel Murphy, though, was just exercising the right to a standard three-day league-guaranteed leave early in the season, when the stakes aren’t so high.

Bringing it home

Half the kids in America are growing up without the benefit of both parents at home, and there are so many challenges today to keeping marriage commitments front and center. It’s all the more important in this age to set an example and speak up to support the responsibility a man has, to be there for his family, even though some would say that’s shirking work responsibility.

So whether it’s  something big like keeping your travel schedule clear so you can be with your wife when she goes into labor, or something routine like making family dinner time a priority, you have the opportunity to model priorities for your co-workers and your family.  Take confidence knowing that your Father in Heaven blesses your decisions when you’re doing what He’s called you to do as a husband and father.

How about you? Have you had to make tough decisions to put your family ahead of your work?  Are there things you need to do that communicate to your family that they are the priority in your life?  I’d love to hear your story.

Taking dad to the Super Bowl … and beyond



Among the key players in this year’s Super Bowl will be three very different men with one big similarity: They love their dads and are bringing them to the game with them – at least in a sense.  Their names are Manning, Wilson, and Sherman, and they have stories worth sharing.

But first I want to tell a personal story of some other men I met who also took their dad to the Super Bowl. Like most guys, they weren’t going as players but as fans, and I ran into them on my way to Super Bowl XL with my son.

Kolby and I were on our way to Detroit to see my former team, the Seattle Seahawks, play the Pittsburgh Steelers. On the flight, we got into conversation with two rabid Seattle fans, brothers in their late 20s, decked out in full team gear. They explained that their passion for the Seahawks went back to their dad, who had taken them to every game as they grew up. Kolby and I could feel the love they had for their dad in their voices and their passion. But what put these guys over the top was when they gushed about their excitement to take their dad to the Super Bowl to see their beloved Seahawks.

“Where is he?” I asked.

“Oh, he’s up in the overhead compartment. We got his ashes in a blue and green urn up there. We’re so excited!”

After they turned away came the whisper from my wide-eyed 15-year-old, “Dad, that’s weird!”

Yeah, it is. But, hey, I honor those guys for honoring their dad. It’s clear that he made his interest in them – and taking them to football games – a tradition, a memory, and a lasting bond. He must have loved them and they still felt it. They knew how much he would have wanted to see the Seahawks in the Super Bowl with his sons, so they brought him to the Super Bowl.

I love this story and the bond between men, a dad and his sons. And that takes me to this year’s Super Bowl.

The plot and outcome of this year’s game will depend a lot on the play of Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, and Richard Sherman. Each has something in common with The Urn Brothers in that they are bringing their fathers with them to the game. Not in an urn, but they are representing their fathers’ legacies of love and sacrifice that helped them make it to the big game.

Russell Wilson’s dad went to my alma mater, Dartmouth College, playing football in the four years before I joined the team. He passed away in 2010, but before he died he had built a character of confidence, commitment, and caring into his son. Russell remembers his dad regularly waking him at 5 a.m. and encouraging him to “make it a great day.” From what Dartmouth teammates said about Harrison Wilson and what we see from the hyper-prepared and team-lifting Russell, I think the quarterback is compounding the investments his dad made in him.

Taking Dad Super Bowl

Sons and their dads, from top, Russell and Harrison Wilson, Kevin and Richard Sherman, Peyton and Archie Manning.

Kevin Sherman is a dependable dad who wanted his sons to learn from his mistakes and to make the most of their education so that they could have more doors open for them than he had for himself. Compton, Calif., is a blighted neighborhood with few opportunities and scores of dangers, but Richard Sherman’s mom, dad and family have a winsome bond that was respected by gang members who didn’t want to lure the Sherman kids away from a great family and future.

The tight family is infectiously affirming. Richard swells with respect when speaking of his dad who worked 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. as trash collector for over two decades. From a dad’s dream to Richard’s attending and graduating from Stanford, quite a new legacy emerged in the Sherman family line.

Richard’s preeminent preparation and boiling competitiveness as a top NFL cornerback is mixed with a winsome manner off the field, although his articulate Muhammed Ali-like trash talking on the field is far from my liking, Sherman’s heated post-NFC championship game comments sparked controversy, not for misbehavior or slacking in life, but for venting battle-fueled bad blood between a DB and receiver. (Parents and youth coaches, certainly, let’s teach our kids not to belittle opponents, but let’s also read the whole story as we view others for the content of their character, not the color of a few comments after a heated game.)

Archie and Olivia Manning raised a super-close family that built Hall-of-Fame character, leadership, and humility into high achievers who make their teams eminently better. Archie labored in adversity without championships for the New Orleans Saints, but his greatest achievement was shaping Cooper, Peyton, and Eli Manning. Payton has a dad and brother as fellow epic NFL quarterbacks.

Despite what most think, the Mannings’ football career was not their dad’s focus as they were growing up. “We just tried to raise good kids and have a good family,” Archie says. “I don’t like the perception that … I’ve got these boys and I’m going to mold them into being NFL quarterbacks. Not so. You might can do that, and they might be NFL quarterbacks. I’m not sure you’re going to have a great father-son relationship, and that’s what I wanted.”

No wonder Peyton Manning was recently voted by his NFL peers as the most respected player in the league.

An infectiously intentional ivy-league dad who passed away early, a trash-truck driving, dependable dad from the ‘hood and an iconic pro-bowl quarterback from the Mississippi Delta. Each paved a path leading his son to the Super Bowl, and hopefully to even more important things – like walking in the footsteps of the key man in their life – Dad. And in a different, but similar way, just like the Seahawk-crazed brothers on the flight to the 2006 Super Bowl, these three players are taking their dad (through his legacy) to the game with them.

This all strikes close to home because of my dad’s legacy as a quarterback in the NFL and as a civic servant and leader in the public square. Although Dad and I both came within one game of the Super Bowl as players, we did go to a few games as spectators, and I’ve had the same opportunity with my sons. Most importantly, though, dad and mom loved and shaped me, as my wife and I have aimed to do with our four sons.

Millions of us dads will sit down with our kids on Sunday. So enjoy the game, but devote yourself and your energies each day to what matters most.

Someday each of us will be laid to rest (unless they scatter us in the ocean or take us to the Super Bowl in an overhead compartment).  What will you be remembered for? Riches, fame, and personal success are transient. But a legacy is what passes on to the next generation, and the next, and the next. … That is what endures.

Jeff Kemp and his father, Jack, were the first of six sets of father-son quarterback duos to play in the NFL. 

If a play’s a winner, run it again



Maybe you’re one of the many thousands of men who did the Stepping Up Super Saturday event last year. Or maybe you have been part of a weekly Stepping Up men’s video study group.

Run it again.

Why Do STEPPING UP more than once?

run it again

Jeff Kemp with receiver Jerry Rice

When I was with the San Francisco 49ers, we had a play we called Brown Right, Fox 2, Z Post. My receiver ran a post route behind the free safety, who had bitten on the run-play fake. I threw the ball and the receiver caught the pass for a touchdown.  It was a huge help to our team that game, not to mention that Jerry Rice and I loved running that play.

Not too long after that, the coach suggested we run the play again.

What? Again? So soon? We just ran that?

Well, he called the play again so we ran it again … many times, in fact.  It scored five more touchdowns in a six-week stretch of games. Of course, it didn’t look exactly the same, and the players on the field changed a bit each time. But it worked. It was awesome. It scored and it helped our team to WIN.

Maybe you’ve already done a Stepping Up men’s video study. Why would you do STEPPING UP again?

Because it was fun. Guys loved it. It changed lives. It got guys into groups talking about life and Jesus. It gave your church and men’s group a big WIN.

Manhood and discipleship are not one-time events. Stepping Up could be run three times a year in a church and it would not be too much. After all, we retain only 10-20% of what we learn each time. Plus, new guys are always brought and impacted. Friendships are forged, issues are dealt with and manhood is displayed. Men accept Christ and catch vision to disciple their families and other men.

So, as they say, if a play is a winner … don’t forget to run it again!

To find out more about participating in the Stepping Up Super Saturday event the day before Super Sunday, or about doing a video study, visit the Stepping Up website, or just contact us for more information.

Super Saturday: A day before the big game



Experts include Bill Bennett, Tony Dungy, Crawford Loritts, Dennis Rainey and many others

If there was ever a time when men need vision for what it means to be a godly man, this is it. Imagine if we could call men from all walks of life to become courageous, godly leaders in their own lives, marriages, churches, and communities. Well, we can. And it all starts with you.

On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, we’re calling on thousands of churches across America to host a Stepping Up Super Saturday: one life-changing day that could turn the tide for men in your ministry, and across America.

Stepping Up Super Saturday proudly presents the Stepping Up Video Event, a DVD-based kit designed for an all-day event. High quality DVDs deliver dramatic stories, humorous vignettes, man-on-the-street interviews, and expert teaching from the more than two dozen ministry leaders. Watch this video from FamilyLife Vice-President and former NFL quarterback Jeff Kemp to learn more about how you and the other men in your realm can step up on Super Saturday.

YouTube Preview Image

Today’s men are shrinking back when they should be stepping up. Help them tackle the challenges of modern life head on by hosting Stepping Up Super Saturday at your church February 1, 2014. Sign up today, order your Video Event Kit  and….GAME ON!

I didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, but …



It’s that time of year: the NFL playoffs. For months, fans have been putting their hopes in their teams’ players and coaches, who have been pouring every ounce of mental and physical energy into a singular goal: reaching and winning the Super Bowl.

Every team is dying to get there but few do. Fans dream of going to the big game, if they could even afford the tickets. Players, coaches, fans — we all yearn for our team to make it.

My own yearning to go to the big game started early — as a seven-year-old boy. It was around Christmas when my dad told me that if his team won their big championship game against the Chiefs, I would get to fly to Los Angeles to watch the very first Super Bowl in NFL history. Dad was more than a Buffalo Bills fan — he was their quarterback.

Dad played hard. We cheered hard. But our Super Bowl dreams were dashed when the Kansas City Chiefs won the league championship, earning them the trip to face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.

Less than 20 years later, I had my chance to go to the playoffs as quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams, only to lose in the first round. The next year our team made it all the way to conference championship game, just like my dad’s team did. But we weren’t that close; we lost to the Bears 24-0 in frigid, windy Chicago. But hey, 25 points in the fourth quarter and we’d have been in the New Orleans Superdome playing in Super Bowl XX.

make it to the super bowlOne of the best teams I played for, the San Francisco 49ers, went to and won multiple Super Bowls, but not in the season I was on the team. My teams made it to the playoffs six times, but never to the big game. So I know at least a bit about the yearning and the sacrifices made to reach and win the Super Bowl.

The best NFL coaches do more than just cast a clear vision of the Super Bowl as the team’s goal. They connect every little detail of preparation and practice as vital to the journey and prize of a Super Bowl championship. I remember Hall of Fame coach, Bill Walsh, explaining to us how details — like perfectly consistent steps in handing off the ball or timing in releasing a pass — relate to the constant improvement and excellence that would lead us toward a Super Bowl.

Laser-like focus is crucial to accomplishing great things in life. The trick seems to be in choosing what steps are important and what goals are truly great.

I didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, but there are more important things in life that we should all set our focus on. Often we are distracted from the ultimate goals and most important things in life. It may be busyness. It may be the sudden blitz of life’s painful problems. It may be the distractions of entertainment, or for us fans, the obsession with a sporting event like the Super Bowl.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I love the playoffs and I obsess a bit too much about getting to see all the great games, culminated by the Super Bowl.

But for those of us who believe in and aim to follow Jesus, all the enthusiasm and emotional devotion we have toward the playoffs should trigger a calibrating question: How much do other interests of mine crowd out what should be my transcending joy and dominant interest?

If I can put so much energy into reaching the Super Bowl, how much more focus and effort can I put into my marriage, raising my children to know Christ, and preparing them to walk in His purpose for them?

God and His Word point us as men to the ultimate goals and destination: seeking first His Kingdom, our eternal relationship with Him, and leading others to the same. Our goal is the upward call of the prize of dwelling with God eternally and elevating our Savior, Jesus.

We all love our teams. But this eternal goal should be motivated by gratitude and love for God, who never lets us down. And that should drive us to the daily and the practical: to show our love for Him by loving others, including each person in our family, and every human neighbor He puts in our path.

Friend, you may never get to attend the Super Bowl or accomplish your biggest earthly goal. But there are bigger, more attainable goals in Christ. This year let the intensity, attention, and extravagance of the Super Bowl prompt us as Jesus followers to refocus on our greatest joy, our greatest victory and our greatest calling. How should that make us live differently?

The value of humility



We live in an age when, too often, rules are scorned, values are turned upside down, principles are replaced by expediency, and character is sacrificed for popularity. Individual athletes are sometimes the worst offenders, but not as often as one might think. In fact, sports teach important moral lessons that athletes can apply on and off the playing field.

Many people dream of being a professional athlete. For me, the dream seemed to be within reach because my father Jack Kemp, was an outstanding quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. The trouble was, I was not very good! I was a third-string football player through most of junior high and high school and for two years at Dartmouth College. I was not anyone’s idea of a “hot prospect.” After graduation, I was passed over by NFL scouts. When I was finally asked to join the Los Angeles Rams in 1981 as a free agent, I was designated a fifth-string quarterback.

Jeff Kemp kids campIt was a 50-to-1 shot that I would even survive training camp. Rookies were the only players required to show up for the first week of camp, and there were dozens of us competing for the few open spots.

After the first two days, a young boy approached me as I was walking off the field. He asked me if he could carry my helmet to the locker room. It was a long way, but I said, “Sure, I think you can handle that.”

The next morning, he showed up before practice and offered to carry my helmet and shoulder pads, and he was there again after practice with the same offer. So it went for the rest of the week.

On the last day, as we were departing the field, my young assistant said, “Jeff, can I ask you a question?” (We were on a first name basis by then.) I thought, “This is my first fan! He’s going to ask me for an autograph.” Then came his question:

“When do the good football players come to camp?”

Right then and there, I learned a valuable lesson in humility from a seven-year-old boy. It was a lesson I was forced to learn over and over in my first three NFL seasons when I threw just 31 passes.

Nevertheless, by that time, I had managed to outlast the five NFL quarterbacks who were ahead of me. With the Rams’ record at 1-2 to start the 1984 season, I took over for the injured Vince Ferragamo, earning my first start against the Cincinnati Bengals, and eventually led the team to nine more victories and a playoff berth.

The next season, I returned to the bench as a backup quarterback and learned the value of humility. I was compelled to remind myself that it was a good thing. It helped me appreciate what I did have, and it helped me to avoid dwelling on what I didn’t. Humility prevented me from complaining, which drains the spirit and also drains the unity of any group. Humility is what led me to persevere and be ready whenever opportunity presented itself. And it did present itself many times over the next eight years of my professional football career.

Humility is having an accurate view of yourself because you have an accurate view of God. We are not defined by our title, by our accomplishments and failures, or by comparison to other people, but by how He sees us. God thought enough of us to create us in His image. And even after sin spoiled everything, He still sees each of us flawed people with infinite worth — enough to sacrifice His Son so that He could forgive and adopt us.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served; He is the very model of humility. He will help you handle life’s ups and downs.  More importantly, His humility in you will help you love and lead your family in all situations.

Men should be investors not consumers



Men were made to invest — to add value, to protect and make life better for others.

man smashing piggybank

Do you know any men who pout or whine when their wife’s idea of frequent sex is different than theirs?

Do you know any men who only go on dates when their wife sets one up?

What makes more than a few young men devote massive amounts of time to video games and social media?

How many husbands need stimulation from more and more porn while their physical intimacy with their wife dwindles away?

Why can many young guys hook up with girls, but not have the courage to ask them on a date or navigate a constructive relationship?

What’s causing so much perpetual adolescence among guys in their late 20s and late 50s?

God has answers to these questions which drive us to passionately reach and disciple men.

We’re facing a crisis in our culture. It’s urgent! When a boy stays a boy for life … when a man doesn’t know what it is to be a man … when he uses girls and women like property … when he fathers kids outside of marriage … when his marriage breaks up … the price paid is compounded for women, children, and society.

Men don’t need to be attacked, however. They need to be welcomed into a Christian fellowship of other men, where manhood can be bestowed. They need to see and learn the manhood model of Jesus, while in the company of friends and mentors.

Men have been tricked, and we need to help them break free from the lies and false vision of manhood. One key cause for the counterfeit versions of manhood and sorry state of marriages today is one we can beat only if we identify it. We need to understand our identity as consumers and rebuild a new identity as investors.

Think about it. Most of us Americans see over 500 advertisements a day. We are trained by Madison Avenue and Hollywood to be consumers and pleasure seekers. It makes us petty, selfish, and little.

Investors not consumers

But men were made to invest — to add value, to protect and make life better for others.  Doing that in marriage for your wife, whom you are to cherish, makes you and your children much happier over time.

In defining manhood and leading men, we need to square up and tackle the passive, selfish, small vision of manhood that shapes boys and men into the mold of “consumer.”  Men want a vision to create something significant, battle for something good, and love a woman and family heroically.

That won’t be possible with a small consumer identity.  We need to wake men up to the devil’s and society’s trick.  God made us to be investors.

Consider pro football.  In the quarterback meeting room and in drills they teach Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, and Drew Brees to throw the ball to receivers in a target diameter of one foot, perfectly serving the receiver so he need not stretch, bend, jump or dive. And they teach wide receivers, “If you can touch it, you must catch it.” Make the quarterback and the team look good. Lay out. Sacrifice. Those are investor mentalities.

Let’s break the consumer mold, call men up to being relationship investors — guys who protect the weak, bring out the best in others, and love unconditionally. Galatians 5 tells us we were called to freedom, not so we could feed our fleshly desires but so we could serve one another — to love our neighbor. It warns that if we are selfish in our flesh and relationships, we’ll be consumed ourselves.  Philippians 2 tells us to be like Jesus and look out for the interests of others, not just self.

Men investing in other men will help us all rediscover the model of manhood: Jesus, the ultimate relationship investor.

 

Jeff Kemp quarterbacked for 11 years in the NFL.  He is a vice-president and “HomeBulder Catalyst” for FamilyLife, speaking to men and equipping men’s group discipleship with FamilyLife’s DVD men’s experience, Stepping Up™.   You can reach Jeff at jkemp@familylife.com.

 

Copyright 2013 by FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

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