Originally posted September 28, 2011, at Lutheran Grilled Cheese. Republished with permission of the author.
On Oct. 9, 1977, running back Herb Lusk took a pitch from quarterback Ron Jaworski. Lusk headed around the left end and ran 70 yards to the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Four steps over the goal line the Philadelphia Eagles’ running back dropped to his left knee and bowed his head in prayer. A few seconds later, he stood back up and returned to the sideline.
Herb Lusk was the first NFL player to do something like this and since then it has turned into a staple for many players in the NFL as well as other sports.
Whether it be a pitcher pointing skyward after a save, a hitter offering thanks to a higher power after a home run, or a basketball team joining for a prayer at mid-court after a game, giving God thanks after a play is common among professional players.
Faith was practiced among players and teams long before Lusk knelt in prayer in the Giants stadium. Many players and teams conducted prayer before and after games, but all of that was out of the public eye.
Having faith on the field
Fast forward to 2011 — we are seeing more and more players show the public side of their faith, but has the public lost the ability to have faith in the game itself?
It surprised and shocked me when I turned on the news this past summer and heard that both the owners of the teams and the players could not agree on the financial terms of the game and, therefore, they were locked out.
As someone who does not make a million dollars a year, I was appalled at the actions I witnessed, and I started to lose faith in the NFL.
I realized I was not the only one. I had people ask me about the activity of God in the lockout. Someone asked me, “What do you think God would say about the lockout?” I paused and really thought about the question.
My gut reaction was that God has too many other important things to worry about than a football lockout. Then I thought about it some more.
It’s more than just a game
I started to think about all the little towns all over the United States that have relied on NFL teams coming into their town and boosting revenue during the summer because the teams use their towns for training camp.
I thought about the sports writers, the trainers and all the other people who were left without income because the owners and the players could not reach an agreement.
I realized that perhaps God was sad to see the NFL lockout, not because God really cares if there is football or not, not because God favors one team over another, but because God walks with those who suffer and God cries when someone’s life is completely changed because millionaires were fighting with billionaires.
It does not matter if it is a great suffering or something a little smaller — God cares. When any of us are left out there because of something wrong in our lives, God is there with us and for us.
So as I watch football this year, I will do so knowing what the NFL did this past season. I hope there are some exciting games and charity is shown to help my faith in the players, the owners of the game and the NFL.
Find a link to Joe McGarry’s blog Lutheran Grilled Cheese at Lutheran Blogs.