Of God and Football

We Americans believe in a lot of peculiar things. Twenty percent of us believe in witches and nearly the same percentage thinks that fortune tellers can foresee the future, despite the fact that no seer has ever won the lottery (if I could see the future I would focus on Powerball). By the way, another twenty percent (it’s probably that same twenty percent) are convinced that winning the lottery is probably the most practical and easiest way to make money.

Equally surprising to me is that fourteen percent of us are of the opinion that the mythical creature, “Big Foot” actually exists. He doesn’t. If he did there would have been Mrs. Big Foot and Baby Big Foot sightings by now. Besides, the beast is estimated to be 6’10” and weigh 500 pounds. If he were real he would have been found and drafted into the National Football League (NFL) long ago. Speaking of sports, a recent survey found that 36% of Americans believe that God has a hand in the outcome of sporting events.

Big Foot soccer player

Actually, the French National Rugby Team snatched him first.

You would think that our Heavenly Father has more important things to worry about than sports such as floods, the plague and making sure that Donald Trump isn’t elected president. Of course, that didn’t stop me from praying for divine intervention for my fantasy football team. It didn’t help. My God, My God, why did you forsake my team?

I used to feel that heavenly interference in sports, if it occurred at all, was rare. I was only aware of two cases – Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception” in 1972 and Doug Flutie’s “Hail Mary” pass that beat Miami in 1984. But they sounded more like Holy Mary’s handiwork than God’s.

But now I wonder if Heaven isn’t becoming more actively engaged in American football. After all, on Sundays during football season, God probably gets more prayers related to football than for world peace (something he needs to focus on more).

Jesus football

He allegedly sends His Son to football camp.

Many players in the NFL think the Almighty is paying attention. When a player makes a touchdown he often points to heaven as a gesture of gratitude to the Lord. And when interviewed after the game, players are apt to credit their performance to Jesus.

Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks star quarterback, is a devout Christian who often credits the good Lord when his team wins. Wilson believes that God not only cares about the game but is deeply involved. In the 2014 NFC championship game, Seattle was losing 16-0 to the Green Bay Packers but Seattle miraculously came from behind to win in overtime. Wilson stated that the Big Coach in the Sky not only helped orchestrate the team’s game-winning drive, but that God made him throw four interceptions because that was “God setting it up to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special.” My guess is that, during the game, God was thinking, “Russell, I’m trying to help you win but you’ve got to stop throwing all those f!#*ing interceptions.” I’m not sure how Wilson explained his game losing interception two weeks later in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. I doubt that God is a fan of the habitual cheaters from New England.

God hands football to man

God plays football in mysterious ways.

A lot of strange things have happened in American football recently that God was probably behind. It is likely that our Creator had a hand in Tim Tebow’s remarkable 2011 season with Denver. That year Tebow, another devout Christian, became the starter in week six and took the then 1-4 Broncos to the playoffs with miraculous weekly victories. Tebow had little success after 2011, proving that quarterbacks need God’s helping hand AND the ability to throw the football.

Aaron Rodgers’ “Hail Mary” pass to beat Detroit this year looked to have had heavenly involvement as well and of course virtually all of Odell Beckham’s catches had to be due to God’s intercession.
Then there is Arian Foster, the starting running back for Houston, who announced in August 2015 that he was an atheist. Shortly thereafter he had a season ending injury and has since been released by Houston. A coincidence? I think not.

It appears that the King of Kings helps the faithful like Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers star quarterback, both of whom had outstanding seasons last year. Newton stated that, “ I just can’t stop smiling because God has his hands on me. I’m on somebody’s fantasy team and I think it’s the man upstairs.” He was referring to the Lord. Wait – God has a fantasy team too? Given that he is all knowing, doesn’t he have a big advantage over the other fantasy owners? Just glad he isn’t in my league.

Good fantasy football

It does feel like cheating.

But one thing I don’t understand is why the Almighty let such strong believers as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton lose the last two Super Bowls. My guess is that he dropped the ball due to the heavy volume of prayers leading up to the big game. There was $132.5 million in legal bets on the game and $4.1billion in illegal wagers. There had to be a lot of prayers with that much money on the line. Gamblers now not only bet on who will win the contest but they also bet on things such as: Who will win the coin toss, who will be the Most Valuable Player, will there be an earthquake during the big game and how many wings Buffalo Wild Wings will sell on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s a lot of bets and prayers. So it’s not surprising that Russell’s and Cam’s Super Bowl prayers may have just fallen through the cracks.

I assume that God will take just as great an interest in football again next year and that he will probably ignore my prayers for my fantasy team. But I think if I draft players who have proven abilities and who the Lord may take a shine to, I can win my league next year. Americans believe a lot of strange things but none more far-fetched than my belief that I can win my league. I never do.

Final Fantasy Football

Even if my elf wizard-quarterback’s magic missiles.

John Wade, a frequent contributor to Unhinged Magazine, is a retired Chief Financial Officer who lives in Wildwood, Missouri.

©2016, all rights reserved
published with permission of the author