While most of the football watching public was fixated on Tim Tebow last weekend, I was hoping that his Denver Bronco teammates, Robert Ayers and Britton Colquitt, would play well. Ayers and Colquitt are former University of Tennessee Volunteers. As the game progressed, I could not help but wonder what Denver’s team would look like if Al Wilson, another former Vol who used to play linebacker for Denver, was still playing. Together, he and Tebow would provide some excellent leadership. New England beat Denver in rather convincing fashion which meant that former Vols Jerod Mayo and Shaun Ellis, who both play defense for the Patriots, came away winners.
To me, watching former Vols play is what makes the NFL interesting. Arian Foster is the reason I pull for the Texans. Peyton Manning was the reason I used to pull for the Colts. Stanley Morgan was the reason that I started cheering for the Patriots when I was just a boy.
Recently, on two occasions, I have had the opportunity to watch, and more importantly hear another former Vol. Both times, at the Greater Knoxville Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet and at the Karns High School Football banquet Inky Johnson told his story in a way that was moving and powerful.
Inky is not playing in the NFL today because of an injury he suffered in the 2006 game against Air Force. It was an injury that not only cost him a professional career, but almost cost him his life. What he has done since that day, the way he has handled adversity and the way he has allowed God to work in his life, is what gives power and meaning to his speaking. The great thing about Inky’s story is that young people listen to him. He connects with them and gives them something to think about as they make choices in their lives and face their own difficulties. Young people hear stories all the time. There is always someone, a parent or a teacher, trying give them direction and advice; but young people don’t always listen. They listen to Inky, and the words he shares with them are words that they need to hear — for that matter, they are words that we would all do well to hear and to take to heart.
“We always have a positive outlook when we face trials ( not that were always happy) but because of what the trials can produce in our lives!”
“Be worthy of the sacrifices that the ones have made who came before you!…This is why I dedicated my book to my grandmother.”
“No matter what angle you view it from….We all have the responsibility to make this world a better place before our time is up!”
“Life is about your LEGACY–And that is how people or a place is made better as a result of being around you or because you were there!”
“When you allow your fear to rule you or hold you back you make your fear more powerful than GOD!”
“All I am trying to do is be a blessing to the ones who can’t pay me back!”
Be on the lookout for an event where you might be able to hear Inky speak. It will be well worth your time. Meanwhile, you might want to pick up a copy of his book, Inky: An Amazing Story of Faith and Perseverance. In the meantime, pray for him. His trials and challenges are not over, but he is endeavoring to do a good thing for God and for people. Let us encourage him and give thanks that there are voices in this world that are speaking good and not evil, hope and not despair, compassion and not bitterness.