This was the week when court papers involving Peyton Manning and a former athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee were treated in some precincts of the sports world as if they were more crucial to the future of the republic than the Pentagon Papers, touching off rhetoric that was even louder than usual.

If you followed the debate, you know it was mean, too, and divisive, and that you were practically ordered to pick a side, like it was Donald Trump vs. Pope Francis.

But underneath all the usual sound and fury this week -- during which people not only retried the case but reset Manning's place in history -- was not just the most important commentary to come out of the world of sports but also the most eloquent, delivered in a quiet voice at a funeral in Oklahoma City.

The speaker was Monty Williams, now an assistant coach with the Thunder, once the head coach in New Orleans, somebody I first met when he came to the Knicks from Notre Dame, drafted by them despite a pre-existing heart condition not terribly unlike the one that killed Hank Gathers. That was the first time, at least in New York, when we took note of Monty Williams' amazing heart. Just not the way we did again Thursday when he eulogized his wife Ingrid.

I pointed out to Williams, back when he was a rookie Knick, that he always seemed to be smiling when I'd see him in the locker room.

"If you were me, you would, too," he said. "Every day is a blessing."

Surely you know by now the story of what happened to his wife. Ingrid Williams was killed and three of her children were injured when a car going more than 90 mph (78 at the moment of impact) crossed into her lane on South Western Avenue and hit Ingrid's car head on. Ingrid was 44. Her five children are now left without a mother. Susannah Donaldson, the woman driving the other car with a dog in her lap, also died.

So it was left for Monty Williams on Thursday, in the Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, seemingly surrounded by red, yellow and white flowers, along with 900 people, so many out of his sport who already knew of the goodness and humanity in him -- just because you only have to spend five minutes with Williams to see and feel that humanity -- sitting there in front of him.

And at a time when all rhetoric does seem so mean and loud, in sports and especially in politics, which so often looks like rock-fighting -- or mud-wrestling -- here was a moment not just of eloquence from Monty Williams, but grace. It happens to be something more rare in our modern world than an unspoken thought.

Williams spoke of faith and love and his children and a wife taken from him far too soon. This is how he ended his remarks:

"I want to close with this, and I think it's the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will toward that family.

"In my house, we have a sign that says, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' We cannot serve the Lord if we don't have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn't wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let's not lose sight of what's important."

There is never any preparation for a moment like this. You always wonder how you would possibly find the strength and the words if something this terrible and this tragic happened to you. But then you watch Williams speak and see him showing all of us exactly how it is done, without ever raising his voice.

Williams never thought he would get close to the NBA once he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at Notre Dame. The doctors spoke of intense activity causing a heart attack that could kill him. Then in 1992 doctors put him through as many tests as they had and found no trace of what is known as HCM.

Ingrid Williams once told Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "We spent a lot of time praying at [the Notre Dame] grotto, hoping and praying there'd be a miracle and he would be able to play again."

Monty Williams finished his career at Notre Dame. He played nine years in the NBA. He was a head coach in a sport he was only supposed to watch from a seat in the stands, or in front of television, before he was 40. He believes his faith did that, the faith that sustains him after the tragedy that took his wife. There was a time in both of their lives when they had to believe that if one of them would still be here, it would be her.

"My wife would punch me if I were to sit up here and whine about what is going on," Williams said.

The voice to listen to in sports this week was his. The blessing was him.


Mike Lupica is a columnist for Sports on Earth and the New York Daily NewsRead his full bio here. Follow him on Twitter @MikeLupica.