Florida State coach backs Air Force's DeBerry

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Florida State football coach
Bobby Bowden said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry is fighting the
government over the role of religion on his team.

Bowden brought up DeBerry while speaking to the Southern
Colorado Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Sunday night.

Last season, DeBerry was asked to remove a banner from the
locker room which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including
the lines "I am a Christian first and last … I am a member of
Team Jesus Christ."

"Fisher is fighting a heck of a battle over here at your
academy [with] the U.S. government," Bowden was quoted as saying
in the Gazette of Colorado Springs. "He's fighting a heck of a
battle because he happens to be a Christian, and he wants his boys
to be saved. I want my boys to be saved."

Bowden's comments came as a Pentagon task force investigates
claims of religious intolerance at the academy, including cases in
which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the
death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow

"We realize we have other religions with us," Bowden said.
"The coach has a responsibility to these boys to try to influence
their spiritual life, their physical life and their academic life.
… We know we're going to get challenged on it, but that's what we
believe in. I ain't gonna back down."

Bowden also said prayer was a large, yet voluntary, part of his
football program and encouraged athletes to be more vocal about
their beliefs.

"The problem with us Christians is we won't speak out," he