TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Clyde Christensen had a bigger role than just being Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach this season.
The 65-year-old longtime assistant coach also served as Tampa Bay Buccaneers chaplain. It’s no surprise then that Christensen spent time Friday afternoon leading a prayer event in a parking lot outside Raymond James Stadium just two days before the Super Bowl.
“It’s been an awful special journey and we’re out here praying and asking God to bless our city and protect us from some of the things that take place on a Super Bowl weekend,” Christensen told The Associated Press. “I think the measurement of a city is how do we care for our down and out, how do we care for our poor, how do we care for our widows, how do we handle racial difference. I think that’s the starting point and that’s why I took the afternoon to come out here with some fellow-hearted people and pray.”
When Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians decided to keep the team’s chapel services in house because of COVID-19, he turned to Christensen, a devout Christian, to lead.
“It was a little unexpected,” Christensen said. “He didn’t ask me. He put it on my plate and I kinda tried to turn it down a few times. I wasn’t looking for more work and headaches, but it’s been kinda neat. It’s been neat for me personally because it’s made me pray harder for our staff and our coaches and our town.”
Christensen mentored Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning before he got a chance to work with Brady, who chases his seventh Super Bowl title when the Buccaneers (14-5) face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (16-2).
Christensen was part of Tony Dungy’s staff in Tampa between 1996 and 2001. He served as an assistant for the Colts from 2002-15. Christensen returned to the Buccaneers in 2019 when Arians came in.
“I was here 25 years ago with coach Dungy and his call to me was to go make an impact any way we can,” Christensen said. “I see coaching as a platform for bigger things. Football is football, but the call is much bigger than that. I love every part of this city and I wanna see this weekend showcase the good.”
The prayer event was organized by Athletes In Action in partnership with International Justice Mission, one of the leading international anti-trafficking organizations.
About 30 people, many wearing Buccaneers jerseys, gathered in a parking lot to pray and listen to various leaders. Among the speakers was Trey Burton, a seven-year NFL veteran who threw the “Philly Special” touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the Eagles’ victory over Brady and New England in Super Bowl 52.
“I’m from Tampa so having this here is really cool,” Burton said. “It’s awesome to see people who are passionate about ending trafficking. There’s 40 million people still enslaved today and we believe no children should be going through what so many children are going through.”
Meriam Guirguis, an executive at First Horizon Bank, also was among those in attendance at the event.
“Tampa Bay has always been a community that really does come together,” she said. “Having the quarterbacks coach two days before the biggest event of the year coming out and showing support is incredible.”
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL