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This is a story I wrote for The Huntsville Times in the summer of 2005 about Auburn team chaplain Chette Williams' response to a column written by Selena Roberts for the New York Times. I thought, in light of recent events, some might find it interesting.
by Phillip Marshall
The Huntsville Times
Chette Williams never saw it coming. And it mystifies him still.
Until January 2005, Williams had heard scarcely a discouraging word about his role as Auburn's football team chaplain. His story - one of faith and redemption - had inspired Auburn players, coaches and fans. He introduced players to the song "Hard Fighting Soldiers," and it became a rallying point for the 2004 football team.
But on Jan. 3, the day Auburn would conclude a perfect season by beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, Selena Roberts, an Auburn graduate who works for the New York Times, wrote a stinging column. She called Williams’ ministry into question.
Williams, known to almost everyone at Auburn as "Brother Chette," is as loved today as ever by Auburn players, coaches and fans. But it has become mantra on some Internet message boards that there is something shady about his ministry. Hints and accusations have even been thrown around on some state radio talk shows.
Williams recently released a book that tells the story of how he was transformed from a malcontent football player to a man who has devoted his life to his faith and to helping others. The proceeds from his book will go to the Chette Williams Foundation. He says he never saw the criticism coming.
"You are always going to be attacked as a minister, but not from this angle, attacking my character," Williams says. "For somebody to think I would pay a player or do anything illegal to jeopardize my job, my family, my career, my university, well, that's ludicrous. Satan is always going to attack us in different ways, but he came from an angle I never imagined."
When a player comes to him because of financial problems, Williams says, he sends him to the proper place to see if help is available.
"There are proper channels to go through," Williams says. "That's where I take them, to the guys in compliance who can tell them what can be done and what can't."
The value of a house from which Williams recently moved in the Grove Hill subdivision has generated talk since Roberts wrote that it was valued at more than $300,000. That puzzles Williams, too.
"I'm like anybody else trying to do my best for my family," Williams says. "We don't have a lot of debt. We try to budget right. There are a lot of preachers living in that neighborhood I lived in."
Williams and his family recently moved into an older home that they are remodeling on the outskirts of Auburn.
The hardest part of it all, Williams says, is that his wife and his children have to hear things that upset them. He says he turns to his faith in the hardest times.
"You are human, you know?" Williams says. "When you have a wife and three kids, it becomes very personal. Your faith has to override it, and it does. I start reading scriptures, and they reassure me.
"If I wasn't on the right road, I wouldn't be getting attacked. It hurts at times and you think about it at times, but when I get on my knees and give it to the Lord, I'm OK."
Williams says his faith tells him he has to love and forgive even those who criticize him most harshly.
"It's hard, but it's the right thing to do," he says. "If I worry about it and let it get to me, they are controlling the situation. When I forgive them, I'm back in control of my life. If I'm going to talk my Christian faith, I have to live it."
Here is a link to the column:
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by PhillipMarshall 12 months ago
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"Get in where you fit in." Life is, Too Short TL;DR
I have met Chette several times and know that he is first class all the way. For Ms. Roberts to attack a man of his character, doing what he does for the young people he helps, well....I'll just say it shows what kind of person she is.
Selena Roberts has some serious personal issues she needs to deal with. Her articles come across as written by a very unhappy person! I will say a prayer for her tonight . . . and tomorrow. Poor critter!
Words can't express. Some people get off at creating DRAMA by creating false stories and I truly believe she is just one of those people. War Eagle!!!
Chette Williams is one of the main people that I miss seeing and speaking with on almost a daily basis. He would always come around to check on the athletes. And not just the football players, he would check in on athletes from all sports. He didn't care what sport, he only cared about the kids themselves. He truly loves Auburn and more importantly, each and every single kid that walks into that building. Sometimes I think that Dr. George Petrie was envisioning Brother Chette when he penned the words to our Creed. He truly is an Auburn man, and even more so, a real man of God.
No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it's over, we may say it's over, but the enemy gets a vote. - Gen. James Mattis
If you guys ever get the chance, hear Bro Chette speak. He is the real deal and has a wonderful testimony about Auburn and Jesus.
"There's no doubt, we're going up."
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