Darrin Gray: Beyond the Jersey

The Indianapolis Colts kicked off their 2015 NFL season August 1, with the opening of training camp in Anderson, Indiana. For 12 seasons, from 1999-2010, punter Hunter Smith, participated in this annual right of summer. Upon retiring, Smith moved onto other ventures, including co-authoring “The Jersey Effect: Beyond the World Championship with his friend and business associate Darrin Gray.
Gray contributed the following guest post about his and Smith’s WestBow Press self-publishing journey.
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Darrin Gray and former NFL punter Hunter Smith, co-authors of "The Jersey Effect."

Darrin Gray and former NFL punter Hunter Smith, co-authors of “The Jersey Effect.”

I have a unique window into the NFL by virtue of my day-to-day involvement with All Pro Dad, Family First’s national non-profit fatherhood program founded by former NFL coach Tony Dungy. I have the privilege of interacting regularly with NFL athletes, coaches, and alumni that serve as spokesmen for All Pro Dad, and I’m blessed to have conducted programs with over half of the NFL teams.

A few years ago I co-authored a book with my good friend, former Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins punter, Hunter Smith. At the time Hunter was a well respected NFL veteran, but upon retiring from football, he embarked on new journeys. Now he’s a published author, lead singer of The Hunter Smith Band and a fantastic public speaker.

TheJerseyEffectWe wanted to tell Hunter’s story and to share how pro sports is shaping American culture. We called it “The Jersey Effect: Beyond the World Championship.” I think our provocative title increased peoples’ curiosity, and along with Hunter’s status as a former NFL player, helped to create some buzz. Adding to the buzz, Hunter lined up a bunch of his Super Bowl XLVI champion teammates to help us in promoting the book, and invited Coach Dungy to write the Foreword which appears in the book.

Writing the book was a team effort. I had the honor to work with Hunter and several of his former  teammates along with Ken Turner and Stephen Copeland. Writing became a process of discovery, organized loosely around a simple question: ‘What motivates some athletes to use their pro platform in sports, and their jersey, to make a positive impact both on and off the field?’

We had a ball writing the book and we learned a lot about ourselves as we looked into the hearts and minds of men who had reached the pinnacle of their profession – Super Bowl success.

These men had won a prestigious earthly prize, but they faced battles along the way. God had given them a chance to make a positive difference in the world with their jersey, but sometimes they struggled to balance their good intentions with the same obstacles we all face: pride, materialism, distractions, and their own character flaws. We worked hard to tell the honest stories of champions who desired to reflect glory back to God by using their “jersey” and the platform God had given them, through their athletic gifts, to make a positive difference in the world.

Gray speaking to an audience at the Indianapolis Colts training center.

Gray speaking to an audience at the Indianapolis Colts training center.

Self-publishing proved to be a great solution for us, because we were working with a tight deadline Our goal was to complete the book so that it would be ready to promote on the famed Radio Row at Super Bowl XLVI, which was held in Indianapolis in February 2012.

We chose to release it as an E-book first and then about 100 days later, we released the print version. WestBow Press helped us get it into bookstores, and made it available for purchase through all the major book distribution channels across America and around the world.

To date, we’ve sold thousands of copies, and continue to be amazed by the number of people that share with us that they read the book, and how it has reshaped their thinking about sports. Hunter and I remain busy supporting the book and its message. Not a week goes by that one or both of us, aren’t speaking about “The Jersey Effect,” signing copies or teaching lessons from the book.

Together we are still helping Americans to keep sports in proper perspective and to understand how to properly align their love of sports with God’s heart,

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page, by tweeting us@WestBowPress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com.  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


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