John Cassis is one of our nation’s finest motivational speakers. He told a story recently about a time when he was serving as one of the Chaplain’s for the Chicago Bears during their glory years of the 80’s.
As John tells it, Mike Ditka was about to deliver a locker room pep talk one day. He looked up and saw defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry. How could he not see him? At 338 pounds the Fridge stood out even in a crowd of pro football players. Ditka gestured to the Fridge. “When I get finished,” he said, “I’d like you to close with the Lord’s Prayer.” Then the coach began his talk.
Meanwhile, Jim McMahon, the brash and outspoken quarterback, punched John Cassis. “Look at Perry,” McMahon whispered, “he doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer.”
Sure enough, Perry sat with a look of panic on his face, his head in his hands. He was sweating profusely. “Everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer,” said Cassis to McMahon in disbelief. After a few minutes of watching the Refrigerator leaking several gallon of sweat, McMahon nudged Cassis again. “I’ll bet you 50 bucks Fridge doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer.”
As Cassis tells the story, he stops to reflect on the absurdity of it all: “Here we were sitting in chapel and betting 50 bucks on the Lord’s Prayer.”
When Coach Ditka finished his pep talk, he asked the men to remove their caps. Then he nodded at Perry and bowed his head. It was quiet for a few moments before the Fridge spoke in a shaky voice, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep…” Cassis felt the tap on his shoulder. It was Jim McMahon. “Here’s the 50 dollars,” he whispered. “I had no idea Perry knew the Lord’s Prayer.”
Keep your fork