Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jesus Followers Among NFL Quarterbacks

Drew Brees; Russell Wilson; Kirk Cousins
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is a Saint in more ways than one. He’s just one of several quarterbacks in the National Football League who profess Christian faith. Indeed, Richard Lindsay, writing at the blog Pop Theology, claims three-quarters of starting NFL quarterbacks are evangelical Christians.

Why so much faith among quarterbacks? And when two Christian quarterbacks play against each other, who—to quote the old hymn—is on the Lord’s side? Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, celebrated a come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers last January, telling Sports Illustrated, “That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special.” Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers disagreed, saying on ESPN Milwaukee radio days later, “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think He’s a big football fan.”

Wilson’s response? “I think God cares about football. I think God cares about everything He created.” Rodgers either changed his mind or decided to play along: In September, after the Packers beat the Seahawks 27–17, Rodgers remarked, “I think God was a Packers fan tonight.”

It’s hard to know why so many NFL quarterbacks are Christians, but it’s clear that one generation of players helps shape the next. Matt Hasselbeck, now a backup QB for the Indianapolis Colts, was a rookie with the Packers when Reggie White was a team leader. In 2008 Hasselbeck told Sharing the Victory magazine that White studied the Bible faithfully and helped Hasselbeck see that “Jesus was a man’s man. He was a stud. I mean, He was hardcore!”

Faith in Christ certainly doesn’t guarantee NFL success. Tim Tebow became famous as a Christian player for his on-field habit of praying on one knee, head bowed (“Tebowing”), but after some initial success in Denver, he’s been unable to hold onto or gain a QB job in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

One consistent theme from Christian quarterbacks: Football doesn’t last. Kirk Cousins went from Michigan State to the Washington Redskins and addressed the permanency of Christ in an interview with Beyond the Ultimate, a website started by the NFL’s Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith to promote the faith. Cousins said, “I know that football will one day end. Jesus however, and all who know Him, will live forever.”

from World Magazine by James Bruce, associate professor of philosophy at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.and graduate of the World Journalism Institute's mid-career course.

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