This week many of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians will celebrate the Story of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes Catholic and Orthodox Christians, whose calendars infrequently coincide. This year is the seventh time since 2001 they are celebrated together and the last time for the next seven years.
Last year the six members of the Class of 2016 used the word “love” 148 times, in their Enshrinement speeches. Many other Hall of Famers have come to their Faith through what Football has taught them.
Starting tomorrow through Sunday you will see five Hall of Famers who in their Enshrinement Speeches re affirmed their faith through and because of football.
We present five excerpts from Darrell Green, Anthony Munoz, Aeneas Williams, Rod Woodson and Tony Dungy. Each story is compelling and very different in their pathways, but one theme is constant-The Game shaped their Lives and they in turn have helped to shape the Game.
Faith and Football has a rich history. One of football’s founding fathers was Amos Alonzo Stagg was intent on becoming a Presbyterian minister but instead fulfilled his calling as the head coach at the University of Chicago. The Fellowship of Christian athletes was founded in 1954. Hall of Famer Reggie White became involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while at the University of Tennessee, and expressed an interest in becoming an evangelist as early as his sophomore year in 1981. He became an ordained Baptist minister during this period. He had acquired the nickname "Minister of Defense" by the time he was a senior. Most teams say a pre game prayer and opposing players of faith gather after a game at midfield to pray.
In 2015 19 Gold Jackets traveled to Israel and the trip is planned again this year. Gold Jacket Pastor Aeneas Williams leads his Spirit Church congregation in St. Louis.
In a Huffington Post Blog written by Rick McDaniel in 2013 he outlined the many parallels between the Bible and Football.
“There is much in the bible that supports the qualities needed for playing football. Many stories in the Bible tell of battles, of perseverance and of commitment. Romans 8:29 tells us God wants our character to be formed like Jesus and football is a character building enterprise. Learning how to win and lose gracefully happens playing football. Working hard toward a worthy goal and paying the price of self-sacrifice is learned playing football. Getting along with people who are different from you and appreciating their differences is learned playing football. The temptation of materialism (which only applies to the NFL not any other level of football) is simply a challenge many other Christ followers face. Business leaders, entertainers and other successful people have the same temptation to serve money instead of God it is not unique to NFL players and coaches. The massive list of men who have played the game and are faithful Christ followers is a testament to the fact that it can be done.”
Whatever you believe or faith you practice, football is a great metaphor for life. It is why we Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values and Celebrate Excellence Everywhere.
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