Tough Conversations Can Be Transformative

As a sports fan, I could not help but be inspired by the story of Vernon Davis. After a game-winning touchdown last weekend against the Saints, Vernon Davis broke down in tears. Those not aware of the challenges he’s faced at the 49ers over the past few years probably thought his response was disproportionate to the moment. It was a big moment, but you don’t usually see grown men break down quite like that.

Why was he so emotional? In an article called “49ers’ Davis grew up after Singletary’s tough love”, Randy Covitz gives us the context:

“Three years ago, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was kicked out of a game by his own coach.

Mike Singletary, an intense, no-nonsense Hall of Fame linebacker as a player, was in his first game as the 49ers interim head coach in 2008 when he banished Davis from the sidelines and sent him to the locker room after Davis drew a 15-yard, dead-ball penalty for taunting when he reacted to some trash talking by grabbing the face mask of a Seattle player.

An incensed Singletary, in his postgame comments, said the 49ers could not win with a selfish player like Davis and would be better off playing with 10 men than with Davis, at the time an underachieving first-round draft pick.”

As a Mike Singletary fan since his days playing football at Baylor University, I was impressed with his boldness but wondered if he may been too hard on Davis in that game 3 years ago.

Fortunately, Davis responded in a healthy way to such a strong rebuke.

Covitz continues: “But Davis, who took Singletary’s discipline to heart rather than rebelling against it, has transformed from a locker-room cancer who fought teammates on the practice field to a team captain and major reason the 49ers will play in the NFC championship game on Sunday against the New York Giants

Singletary’s discipline of Davis changed his career and perhaps the course of the 49ers.

‘Coach Singletary definitely touched my life,” Davis said earlier this season. “He taught me to put others before myself.'”

As somoene who has been on the receiving end of hard conversations and as someone who doesn’t like to have them with others, I have come to realize the power and beauty of tough conversations.

A great principle can be found in Proverbs 27:5-6 which reads: Better to correct someone openly than to let him think you don’t care for him at all. Friends mean well, even when they hurt you. But when an enemy puts his arm around your shoulder—watch out!”

A loving community is both inclusive and a place where people care enough to be honest with each other.

The power of a rebuke comes from how we choose to respond.

As a Cowboys and Seahawks fan, it is hard to imagine admitting this, but for the first time in my life I am pulling for Vernon Davis and the team mentored by Mike Singletary: the 49ers.


Showing 2 comments
  • Brent Pittman

    Great article about a boy becoming a man.

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff Eric! Loved hearing this story and catching the insight from it. Thanks for sharing!


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