One of the storylines that was missing from the Super Bowl yesterday (and for good reason) was the faith and lifestyle of many of the players on the field. However, the Reverend Franklin Graham and the folks at the Christian Examiner took note and spoke to fact that many of the men on the field for Super Bowl 50 were evangelical Christians with an outspoken faith.
Manning and Newton are a study in contrasts. Manning is the cerebral son of an NFL quarterback who matched strong physical talent with one of the greatest minds the quarterback position has ever seen. Newton, the son of a pastor, is possibly the greatest athlete ever to sling a football in the NFL. Manning’s squeaky-clean image and serious demeanor seem to hearken back to a previous era. Newton’s flamboyance, as he ruffles feathers along the way, seems to be a perfect fit for today’s hip-hop culture that understands that football is—above all else—entertainment. Manning is undoubtedly toward (or at) the end of his storied career. Newton is just entering his prime.
Yet despite their differences, the two grew up in evangelical Christian homes. Neither are as open about their faith as Tim Tebow and others. Both shy away from politics (though Manning has given more than $14,000 to federal-level Republican candidates since 2004). But both have also, at times, talked about their faith.
Here’s what Reverend Graham had to say:
Here in North Carolina there’s been a lot of Panther mania going on the last couple of weeks. Well, Super Bowl day is finally here. Of course I’m pulling for my home team to win today, but I’ve also rooted for the Denver Broncosfor years. Both Peyton Manning and Cam Newton are great quarterbacks with world-class teams. And it’s great to know that there are some strong Christians on both teams.
Did you know that Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl running back Jonathan Stewart puts on more than his shoulder pads, helmet, and uniform before playing football? Every day he said he puts on the armor of God after he wakes up. Now that’s real protection, and we all need it! The Bible says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Read more in Ephesians 6:10-18).
In pre-game interviews this week, Broncos’ tight end Virgil Green shared, “The Lord means everything to me. I like to work with kids and tell them you don’t have to follow what the world wants you to do. Christ has everything you need. That’s what I stand firm on.”
Panthers’ wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was asked what comes to mind when he hears the Name of Jesus. He said, “Savior, Redeemer, the One who purchased me with His blood, King of kings, Lord of lords, my only way—the Way and the Truth and the Life.”
Carolina kicker Graham Gano, the NFL’s second-leading scorer this season, acknowledged to reporters that he had been given his talents and abilities by God. Gano said, “He made the ultimate sacrifice for everyone. He means everything to me.”
These quotes about their faith might not make it on ESPN, but many of the guys playing on the field today know that they’ve got something far more valuable than even a Super Bowl ring—they know Jesus Christ as their Savior and the Lord of their lives. Do you? That’s a real game-changer.
Some things are more important than football, politics, and just about everything else.
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