FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- In his rookie season as a head coach, Jim Caldwell has said over and over that he believes in self-fulfilling prophecy. He's quoted this Chinese proverb several times:
"Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts."
This week he also pointed to Proverbs 23:7: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
If one thing is clear about Caldwell -- a serious, guarded and thoughtful man -- it is that he is a spiritual person, unafraid of using biblical messages to help guide his players.
Members of his staff are in line with that.
“One thing that’s neat about coaching is it makes you walk by faith, it’s not a by-sight thing,” receivers coach Clyde Christensen said. “We could be home next week and I could be unemployed. You just trust. There is a great verse in Exodus that we shared as a staff Tuesday morning: 'God doesn’t take you the most direct route.'
“He didn’t take the Israelites the most direct route to the Promised Land because they couldn’t handle it. They needed to develop some character and of course they screwed it up and took 40 years. But he didn’t take them the most direct route.”
Hearing Caldwell and Christensen early Wednesday morning, I started to think about how I view the spiritual aspect of the Colts.
Certainly the atmosphere Tony Dungy created and Caldwell inherited fosters faith. But it’s not a pushy environment and wouldn’t make someone who might be uninterested in such things uncomfortable.
That’s because when Caldwell points out a biblical passage, it typically has undeniable football and life applications. When coachable guys are offered such nuggets, they generally gobble them up.
“He’ll tell you it’s all about winning football games,” special-teams coach Ray Rychleski said. “Now he has a certain belief beyond football obviously, but he wants to send a message that helps our football team -- ‘This is how it’s been, this is what can work for us.’
“Everybody makes analogies with things and tries to compare things and that’s his way of doing it and people understand it. Whatever he’s selling, everybody’s buying into it.”
Clint Session said he feels like the bulk of the team’s roster is invested in the spiritual and biblical, that Bill Polian even works to find guys who will fit in with it.
“Guys that know, ‘Whatever this coach is telling me, it’s for a good reason,’” Session said. “… He comes out some mornings and throws a Bible verse on the board, and you look at it and think, ‘This has so much of a connection to our team and what I deal with throughout life.’
“He’s not only teaching us to be better players, he’s also teaching us to be a man with dignity and pride and integrity. Words we will be able to use throughout football and after football. When you take care of that, it’s going to show on the field.”