Most of us probably watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday night (just to see Linnea’s son Davis rock that palm tree in the halftime show). I really didn’t care which team won, but there was a person on the sidelines for the New England Patriots who caught my attention – their chaplain, Jack Easterby.
The typical team chaplain is a pastor at a local church who volunteers to host Saturday chapel for 10 or so players who attend and is compensated with cash in a collection plate. In New England, Easterby has an office. He hosts Bible study, works coaches’ hours in his office counseling players and their wives, throws passes in practice to Darrelle Revis and sometimes even jumps in on scout-team drills. When he’s not listening, he’s texting. When he’s not texting, he’s writing players and coaches individual notes, recapping their personal goals and reminding them of how thankful he is to know them. He prefers to be called a character coach, not a chaplain, because he doesn’t push religion on anyone. “He just wants to love you,” Slater says. “He just wants to be your friend. How can you not love a guy like that?”
I’ve never met Easterby personally, but I’ve known about him for several years as the University of South Carolina campus director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My future son-in-law did an internship with him a few summers ago. In 2005, he got a job as the academic adviser for the Gamecocks men’s basketball team. He began hosting Bible study for all of USC’s athletes and coaches, and he learned how to bond with all kinds of young men — fatherless, fathers themselves, black, white, rich, poor — by focusing like a laser on what they needed, not what he wanted. “Jack cut across all religious beliefs,” says then-coach Dave Odom.
He still lives in Columbia, SC, with his wife and two young daughters. He travels to Foxborough for Thursday through Monday, but he sees himself as a character coach more than a team chaplain.
There are very few admirable men of the cloth in Austen’s writings. Henry Tilney and Edward Ferrars are the only two which come to mind. I’ve already mentioned Edward in a previous post, so the spotlight is on Henry today.
Tilney (Northanger Abbey)is intelligent and witty. He’s fairly handsome, loyal to his family, particularly his sister Elinor, and attracted to the heroine Catherine Morland. When Catherine is dismissed in disgrace from his ancestral home while he is on his own estate, he follows her, apologizes for his previous misunderstanding of her, and proposes. There is no hint of a Collins in the man – no subservient, overly complimentary tendencies. No fawning. He is straightforward and honest.