‘Team Jesus Christ’ Coach Tosses The Pigskin

Fisher DeBerry was the head coach of the Air Force Academy football team for 23 years and today, with three more years on his contract as the highest paid employee at the prestigious military school, he resigned.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when you have to look at the big picture and decide what’s the best thing for your family,” he said during a press conference.Doesn’t appear that the controversies that he’s generated over the past few years really came up, like the huge banner he hung in the locker room of the taxpayer funded institution in 2004, which read in part: ”I am a Christian first and last … I am a member of Team Jesus Christ’ (see below for the entire “Competitor’s Creed” as it appeared on the banner). It was hung in the football locker room until Academy officials asked DeBerry to take it down.

And DeBerry’s 2005 on-air comment, about the challenges of winning games, didn’t come up either:

“I just want to recruit speed; we need to find speed as much as anything…The black athlete, statistically, from program to program, seems to have an edge as far as speed is concerned,” DeBerry told a Denver TV station after his team lost a game.

“It was very obvious to me the other day that the other team (TCU) had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to be that way. Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me that they run extremely well.”

But it has been noted that the “winningest” coach in Academy history hasn’t been so good at winning the past few years. (This year marked his third consecutive losing season}.

An extensive story about the coach’s future in the April 30 Colorado Springs Gazette notes that not only is he “not only the Academy’s highest-paid employee with an annual package of $660,859.21, but he also is contractually guaranteed to be offered a job with the athletic department when he retires…”

Doesn’t look like that is happening anymore, though DeBerry, who’s 68, will pocket $850,000 for the next five years as part of a settlement.

Could it be, winning is everything?

The “Competitor’s Creed” comes from Campus Crusade for Christ:

I am a Christian first and last.
I am created in the likeness of
God Almighty to bring Him glory.
I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.
I wear the colors of the cross.

I am a Competitor now and forever.
I am made to strive, to strain,
to stretch and to succeed
in the arena of competition.
I am a Christian Competitor
and as such, I face my challenger
with the face of Christ.

I do not trust in myself.
I do not boast in my abilities
or believe in my own strength.
I rely solely on the power of God.
I compete for the pleasure of
my Heavenly Father, the honor of Christ
and the reputation of the Holy Spirit.

My attitude on and off
the field is above reproach –
my conduct beyond criticism.
Whether I am preparing,
practicing or playing;
I submit to God’s authority
and those He has put over me.
I respect my coaches, officials,
teammates and competitors
out of respect for the Lord.

My body is the temple of Jesus Christ.
I protect it from within and without.
Nothing enters my body that
does not honor the Living God.
My sweat is an offering to my Master.
My soreness is a sacrifice to my Savior.

I give my all – all of the time.
I do not give up. I do not give in.
I do not give out. I am the Lord’s warrior –
a competitor by conviction
and a disciple of determination.
I am confident beyond reason
because my confidence lies in Christ.
The results of my efforts
must result in His glory.


Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.

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