God Used a Coach Named Ron Brown and the Sin at Penn State for Good

(Billy’s Thoughts>>> The story below from the Omaha, Nebraska newspaper  goes back some weeks but how God used the sinful acts and crime at Penn State is an item  that you need to know about no matter where you live in the world.)

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They played a football game here on Saturday. There was a winner and a loser and some thrills at the end. But nobody here will ever remember it.

And nobody here will ever forget it.

Sports met humanity on Saturday, and the man in the middle was a fellow named Ron Brown. You may know him.

Brown has been on the Nebraska football coaching staff for 21 years, including 17 straight from 1987 to 2003. He’s coached receivers, tight ends and running backs. He’s been part of three national championship teams. He’s worked for three head coaches.

He’s had offers to leave, go pro, and stayed. A big reason is his calling. Brown is deeply religious, a man with missions in life. He’s had radio and TV shows and he’s been controversial at times. Mostly, he’s like a rock. You know what you’re going to get with Ron Brown. He’s like a steady hand.

On Saturday, when a community, a sold-out stadium and two teams needed it most, the steady hand was there.

Of all the things Brown has done his career, this is how I’ll always remember him. This was his signature moment. And it nearly brought a congregation of 107,903 to tears.

It was going to be a day of emotions. But nobody knew how it would play out. This was the first time since 1949 that Joe Paterno had not been part of a Penn State football game. There had been rioting, disturbances, whatever you wanted to call it, on Wednesday night. A lot of people here were on edge. How would this go?

Just before kickoff, we found out.


The Penn State and Nebraska teams — players, coaches, trainers — walked to midfield. They shook hands. They embraced. It lasted awhile. The crowd stood and applauded. It was very moving.

Then they gathered in a circle. And Brown stood in the center and prepared to deliver a long, passionate prayer.

“Wait a minute,” said Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley. “Where’s Bo? I want coach Pelini next to me.”

The two coaches knelt together.

One of the biggest stadiums in college football fell silent. For nearly a minute, or two, the stadium was deathly quiet. You could see the image of Brown talking, down on the field, and the thought of what he might be saying to two teams brought goose bumps. It’s a scene that will be frozen in time.

“What struck me was how quiet it was,” Brown said. “It was real quiet. It was so quiet I thought everyone could hear me.”

We couldn’t. But afterward, Brown was asked to relate what he said to the players. It sounded like the pep talk of his life.

“I said ‘Why us? Why us, lord? Of all the years. Joe Paterno left Brown University and came here in 1950. Nothing changed here forever. Then all of a sudden, it all changed this week. Why this week? Why Nebraska? Why this Penn State team?

“We can’t control those things. What we can control is our attitude, our spirit, that we bring to this game.

“There are a lot of little boys out there, watching this game, trying to make sense out of life. They are asking, ‘What is manhood?’ May we demonstrate to them what manhood is, to come out and play the game of football, with ferocity, with passion.

“I thanked God for choosing our teams to play this game. We were the little boys who grew up playing football. This was our moment to show the world. There are a lot of issues out there, a lot of questions, regarding child abuse. What we can do, on this field, is show them what respect is, respect for each other, respect for God.

“And then I asked God for his hand of safety. A lot of people didn’t know what was going to happen today. They saw people rioting the other night. They wondered what might happen today. They thought this place might explode.

“I felt like God held his hand of healing over the stadium today. I know some people may not understand that, but I think there was a reverence in the crowd today. A respect for one another, for the players, for the game.

“I think that’s what we saw today.”

There was an unmistakable spirit in the atmosphere. There was an air of sportsmanship that we have become too cynical to expect. Afterward, you heard Penn State fans thanking Nebraska fans for their class. And Husker fans thanked them right back.

That was the coolest thing about this game. A lot of people expected chaos. Instead, the schools rallied together on the same field, in the same stadium. There was a banner that read, “Stand As One.” That could have been said for both sides.

It was one of those special days in college football, in sports. To think, some didn’t want the game to be played.

“Personally, no, I didn’t think we should, in my opinion,” Brown said. “I had mixed feelings all week. I know coach Paterno. I used to attend the Penn State camps when I was at Brown (late ’70s, early 1980s). I know Jerry (Sandusky) and all those guys. I’m very familiar with the Second Mile foundation.

“On the other hand, there was this deep darkness that occurred. I felt bad for the young boys. I felt bad for all the young men who had been impacted by this. If there was a game, I thought we should do something to try and help.”

Brown said he and a friend who works with Athletes in Action in State College spoke on the phone Friday night. There was talk about a special meeting at midfield between the teams. Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson, an old friend of Brown’s, spoke with Brown on Saturday morning and suggested Brown speak to the teams. Pelini and Bradley gave their blessings.

(Please read the rest of this column by clicking here.)

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