Posts Tagged With: NFL

I’m Struggling with Watching Football—Am I Alone?

Over the last few months, I have had a shift in my watching of certain athletic events—specifically American football (a nod to my non-American readers, mainly the two readers of this blog from Trinidad & Tobago).  My conundrum?

I just struggle with watching the sport now.

Before I delve into this personal matter, please do not misunderstand.

  • I will not boycott the sport, nor call for one (the Disney boycott from years gone by proved a sufficient antidote for this Southern Baptist boy).
  • I will still cheer on my Cincinnati Bengals.
  • And I will cast no judgment on those who continue to watch.

But I’m struggling.  Why?  Simply put, the violent nature of the sport. 

On August 17, I went to NFL.com to check out some of the headlines posted.  Here they were:

  • Broncos DE Wolfe taken from field in ambulance after hit to neck
  • Dolphins TE Keller carted off field after gruesome knee injury
  • Manuel needs minor knee procedure, out for Bills’ preseason
  • Gabbert shines for Jags but exits with thumb sprain | Jets win
  • Texans rookie Hopkins being evaluated for potential head injury
  • Titans lose Ayers (ankle), Wright (knee) to injuries | Bengals roll
  • Royal sustains bruised lung, concussion at Chargers practice

Recently, the NFL settled with retired players who sought $2 billion to “compensate retired players for concussion-related brain injuries, pay for medical exams and underwrite concussion-related research.”  They settled for $765 million.  For years, the NFL failed to provide this compensation, and numerous players have died from suicide and other forms of death due to the violent nature of the sport—great players such as Andre Waters, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, and a number of others.  The accumulation of this, plus other violent hits that, some experts say, (1) each tackle is like a traffic accident at 35 mph, and (2) the game takes 15 years off your life due to the toil on the body—it’s taking a toll on me as well.

Granted, the NFL is custom-made for TV.  No wonder it’s so popular, and I’ve been a football fan for my entire life.  But rejoicing in the big hits no longer holds its allure for me.  I’ve gone from seeing them as objects in a uniform to actual people and souls—imagebearers of God—and I just cannot handle this aspect of it much longer.

Plus, I have other sports to choose from that I love to watch, mainly baseball (go Reds!) and soccer (go Arsenal and Colorado Rapids!).  I know I can watch them without seeing a car accident numerous times on a play.

I haven’t pulled the plug yet.

But I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.

Am I alone in this?

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Tebow, Teammates, and a Lesson for the Body of Christ

Tim Tebow serves in our culture now as a very polarizing figure.  He is loved/hated for his faith in Christ; he is loved/hated for his football ability (“I love his energy” to “he can’t throw a spiral”); and he is scrutinized almost daily on ESPN, more so than any other barely-playing backup quarterback of all-time.  I mean, every day on the ESPN.com’s top headlines, Tebow is mentioned—showing that he still provides a lot of traffic for ESPN, NFL.com, etc. 

Tebow didn’t play against New England because he had two fractured ribs.  Yet, he still dressed out (that is, was in uniform and on the active roster).  Why? 

“I had to do a little bit of talking just to dress but I just want to be there for my teammates in case they needed me in an emergency situation.”

Tebow has a litany of answers he provides for the media that goes something like this:  “I just want to go out and practice as hard as I can everyday to improve everyday so I can contribute to this team and be there for my teammates.”  Time will tell if this truly is so, but few are able to say anything negative about his work ethic that takes away from this aforementioned litany.

May God grant us the attitude expressed here as a body of Christ: always ready to dress out, ready to come into the game, ready to do Kingdom work.  May we always have our Christ and our teammates in mind before self.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel,that I may share with them in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

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How the ‘Manning Watch’ Could Show the Authenticity of Tebow’s Christianity Most Clearly

 

Now that I’m a long-time resident in Denver, Colorado (actually, April 1 will be four months), I see how rabid the sports fans are—especially Bronco fans.  For those of you who are international readers, the Denver Broncos are a professional American football team with a very rich history and a dedicated fan base.

Last fall, we were swept away by Tebow-mania, which circled around their quarterback Tim Tebow.  After Kyle Orton led the Broncos to a 1-4 start, the fans were shouting for Tebow, even though Tebow was third (and by some accounts fourth on the depth chart).  He was drafted in the 1st round in 2010, so they had to see what they had.  He led the Broncos the last 11 games of the season, winning seven of them in the most unorthodox way imaginable.  He would lead them to the most heart-stopping of last minute victories—all the while being an average to below average quarterback statistically (his completion perceptage—49%—was 34th in the NFL—even though the NFL has only 32 teams). 

But Tebow is a strong, unashamed follower of Christ—which makes him a polarizing figure.  For those of us who are believers, we have to work to separate the Christian man from the football player.  Personally, I love his work ethic and devotion to the game—but still have questions as to whether he can be a dependable quarterback. 

Last fall, Tebow’s heroics on the field made him the go-to guy for sports programming, and it even bled over into the New York Times and other non-sports periodicals and websites.  And since Tim’s Christianity is so much a part of him, discussing this aspect of his person was unavoidable.

From Tebow-Mania to Manning Watch

After the season ended with a trouncing of the Broncos at the Super Bowl runner-up New England Patriots, the scrutiny elevated.  “Would Tebow really be the starter next year?” “Can they make it to the Super Bowl with him at quarterback?”  “Will the Broncos try to go after a veteran, or draft a QB in the late rounds?”

Then, on March 8, news came across the wire:

Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback of this generation, if not ever, would be released by the Indianapolis Colts and become a free agent.  Teams were calling, not the least of which?  You guessed it, the Denver Broncos.

When Manning visited Denver on Friday, you would have thought it was a head of state.  He spent six hours at the Bronco compound talking with John Elway, President of Football Operations with the Broncos (and a pretty good quarterback to say the least for those same Broncos), and John Fox, the head coach.

The radio talk shows blew up here.  Everyone wants Manning (four neck operations in 19 months notwithstanding).  Even the Tebow apologists want Manning, so Tebow could sit back and learn from him—that is, if Tebow is not traded in the aftermath. 

As of today (March 16), he has talked to four teams (Denver, Arizona, Miami, and Tennessee).  Bronco management is flying to Durham, NC to talk further with Manning.  The drama just continues to unfold.

A Test of Tebow’s Authenticity as a Believer

When Tebow was having success on the field, his Christianity was on full display.  He has always said that while he loves football, it’s just a game and he has that perspective.  His Christian faith was on full display during the good times.

But it’s in the midst of trials and suffering that the authenticity of one’s Christian faith is put on its most striking display. 

Even the most skeptical of sportswriters (Rick Reilly) are amazed at the genuineness of Tebow. 

So Tim, I see that same genuineness that Reilly does and that same grounded nature that God calls us as Christians to have.  And it’s in this time when Bronco Nation is fawning over Peyton Manning coming here that you need to show the world that Christ is truly #1 in your life, not being quarterback of the Denver Broncos. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uttered these words:

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Not being quarterback of the Denver Broncos is not the reviling or persecution meant here—to be sure.  But in regards to your surrender to Christ, folks will have all sorts of false utterances of evil spoken against you because of Christ. 

I beg you, even in the midst of Manning Watch, keep Christ clearly and consistently in front.  Show the genuineness and authenticity of your faith not simply after a win, but even when the team you love playing for is sending signals that you are not the man.

It is in the darkness of the valley that Christ’s light needs to shine brightest. 

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Eighth Grader Suspended for Haircut Paying Tribute to the Bengals

An Ohio 8th-grader received an in-school suspension for what school officials call a “distracting” haircut. As some of you NFL fans may know, the Cincinnati Bengals are having a great season thus far (6-2), so this fan wanted to show pride in his team.

What think ye? Did this teen go to far? Did this warrant an in-school suspension?

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