Playing on championship teams for legendary University of Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, the former All-American defensive end knows the value of every moment in a game. But mistakes are magnified when the clock starts winding down, which inspired the title of his book "The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood: A Proven Game Plan for Raising Sons."
Football games often are determined in the final two minutes of a game and, often with teenagers, parents are coming down to their two-minute drill, Croyle said. "Before our sons leave our home, they have to know how to be a good man, a good husband and a good father."
In addition to raising two biological children, Croyle has been a father figure to nearly 2,000 kids at Big Oak Ranch. Croyle began the boys' ranch 40 years ago for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Big Oak Ranch, which has since added a girls' ranch and a Christian school, will receive 100 percent of the author proceeds from The Two-Minute Drill.
The lessons learned from the hurting hearts of those who come to stay with "Mr. John," along with experiences with his son and daughter, served as the foundation for the parenting book from B&H Publishing.
The book has garnered endorsements from sports legend Bo Jackson, Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban, NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Allison and numerous other prominent men in sports and entertainment.
"We are raising a generation of boys who don't know what real manhood looks like," Croyle said. "Our girls have no idea what to look for in a husband." He is driven to change that.
Years ago, in preparing for a trip with his then-13-year-old son Brodie, who would later become a quarterback at Alabama and in the NFL, Croyle felt God impress on his heart one question: "What do you want to teach your son about manhood?"
The last word of the question stayed at the forefront of his mind until he found an answer. Seven life principles based on the acrostic M-A-N-H-O-O-D became Croyle's formula for training sons: Master, Ask and Listen, Never Compromise, Handle Responsibility, One Purpose, One Body, Don't Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up.
Croyle expressed confidence in the wisdom gained from his parenting experience in summing up The Two-Minute Drill: "If you apply the seven aspects from this book, you will raise a thoroughbred."
Croyle looks to the future for the rewards for his book. "Twenty years from now," Croyle said, "I want young men to come up to me and say, 'Thanks, my dad read your book and it changed our relationship and helped to make me who I am today.'"
From standing by one's word to resisting the temptation to compromise morals, The Two-Minute Drill challenges parents, particularly fathers, to model the character they want to see in their children.
"If I ask your son who is the most godly man he knows, and he doesn't say you, something is wrong," Croyle said. "And you need to fix it."
While the book emphasizes the need for parents to begin training their children for success as soon as possible, Croyle made it clear that time remains for those who feel discouraged.
"It is never too late to be a great parent," he said. "Unless you or your child is in the grave, you still have time."
He has seen it firsthand in the lives of children at Big Oak Ranch. Many who endured unspeakable pain and abuse but responded to the love and opportunity they found at the ranch have become successful men and women.
"One of our boys is going to work in an orphanage in South Africa," he said. "He's passing on what he got here."
And what he got from Big Oak Ranch is what Croyle hopes every child receives from parents who read The Two-Minute Drill.
"This book is a tool -- something to help you develop your children to become who God created them to be. But just like any tool, you have to use it. You still have to build on the foundation to establish the eternal home in the heart of your son or daughter."
He couldn't help but grin when he said, "There are some great lessons in the book, because I've had close to 2,000 great teachers."
Aaron Earls writes for LifeWay Christian Resources. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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