CHRISTIANITY AND PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL
11 months ago| all others
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Christianity and Professional Football
During Super Bowl week, America's eyes are drawn to the sport of football. A lot of times football is portrayed in a bad light. In fact, one of my good pastor friends doesn't even allow sports such as football to be shown in his house because he believes all the worship of players, the game, the sexual undertones and thuggery are indicative of not only the game, but its negative impact on society. Certainly, that is one side of the story. But there is another side that is often overshadowed and doesn't have so much of the so-called "sex" appeal of a Ray Lewis (Ravens' linebacker) murder mystery or 49er's cornerback Chris Culliver comments that he doesn't want openly homosexual teammates...A lot more.
Of the some 2,400 NFL players, only a handful of them do things to grab headlines. You read and hear most about those guys who get the substance abuse arrests or murder suicide or domestic violence. These types headlines are sensational in that a football celebrity committed them. When you look at the total population of the United States and the total population of the NFL, however, NFL players as a whole are well under the national average of incidents in these types of problems in society. The NFL is actually set up to assist players with their challenges--both on the field and off--because it is in the business of developing young men to be positive contributors to society long after their playing days.
Yesterday, for example, I was on the set of NFL Player Engagement at the Super Bowl's Media Row. Former All Pro Irving Fryar and NFL Hall of Fame Nominee Aeneas Williams were interviewing various players. The interviews will be used to give younger players insight in how to be successful citizens both on and off the field. They spent the afternoon interviewing men such as Eddie George, Michael Irvin, Rod Woodson, Justin Forsett, Derrick Brooks, David Tyree, and Warwick Dunn--all who played for different teams across many years. They all stressed the positive impact of football on their lives. Many of them were headed in the wrong direction until a coach or teammate planted a seed that turned their lives around.
These men are dedicated to assisting young players develop their character as well as coming alongside former players who may be experiencing challenges with their post-football lives or careers. Guess what? They are all committed Christians at various stages of their walk with the Lord. Williams and Fryar are also pastors. Watching the players come up to them yesterday--even ones who were not being interviewed--and hugging on them and telling them openly what an impact they had on their own lives was quite amazing--and you may be surprised at some of their names.
Irving Fryar and I were having a bite to eat and got into a Holy Spirit driven conversation on Ephesians 6:11 about putting "on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." We spontaneously broke into a tag-team preaching moment and everybody around us was smiling and amen-ing, or backing off...football as a game may or may not have an impact on lives (I believe it does), but the men who play it and coach it surely do. God uses many ways to bring people into the kingdom. There are those working hard that we don't even know about. Are you one of them?
Have a Blessed and Powerful Day!
Bill Wilson www.dailyjot.com