Faith in Action at the Super Bowl

I don’t want  anyone  to  think  more  highly  of  me  than he should, than what he can actually see in my life and my message. 2 Corinthians 12:6 (TLB)

Our daughter Jillian lives in Denver, so she is very excited about the Super Bowl this coming Sunday. She shared a couple of stories that made us chuckle. If you have watched Denver this season, you will notice that Peyton Manning’s play calls can be heard very clearly, and they are quite original.   Peyton frequently yells, “Hurry,…hurry hurry!” in the middle of the play count. Jillian told me when her colleagues gather for a meeting at work, someone will shout, “Hurry, hurry hurry!” Denver-based Frontier Airlines advertised a 3-day “Hurry,…hurry hurry!” 18% off sale.  In the first playoff game Peyton shouted “Omaha!” before many snaps. Now the Bronco fans shout “Omaha!” immediately after Peyton shouts it.

Having come back successfully from a career-threatening neck injury, Super Bowl XLVIII will be Peyton’s first appearance in the Super Bowl since 2010.  I watched the 2010 Super Bowl along with 106 million viewers. The game featured two of America’s favorite athletes: Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. The 31-17 victory meant so very much to the city of New Orleans to have their first world championship in forty-four years of professional sports, especially following Katrina.

The irony was that the man who stood in the way was once a huge Saints fan because his dad played for the Saints. Peyton Manning and his older brother, Cooper, and younger brother, Eli, spent many Sunday afternoons in the Superdome, watching the Saints lose as Archie would get pummeled by one more defense. As the Saints fans booed Archie one day, Cooper, who was seven, asked his mother, Olivia, “Can we boo too, Mom?”

Super Bowl XLIV had great story lines and was extremely well played with very few penalties. One story line that many people would not recognize is that both starting quarterbacks are believers. In the book Manning by John Underwood, Peyton recalled the encounter with God that led him to proclaim Jesus Christ as his Savior. Thirteen-year-old Peyton heard the oft-repeated question from the pulpit of his church in New Orleans one Sunday morning: “If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure that you are going to heaven?” The message spoke to Peyton differently than it did to his brothers, and he felt small in the big church. When the pastor asked who wanted the assurance of eternity in heaven, Peyton raised his hand. He found the courage to come forward and take a stand that day for Jesus Christ

Peyton shared that while he has no problem with players taking more overt stands for Christ, he prefers to let his actions speak. He is aware that Christians make mistakes just like those who do not know Christ and that he is forgiven through Jesus Christ. In my opinion, Peyton has done a marvelous job being a role model in a high-profile, pressure-filled sport. He displayed grace and humility as he answered post-game questions from the 2010 Super Bowl media who were making way too much of one ill-advised throw.

Peyton prefers to let his actions speak for his faith. Tim Tebow, the Broncos quarterback in 2012, is much more demonstrative and outspoken about his faith.  Do you think that Peyton should be more overt about his faith? How would the kingdom be impacted if one of football’s biggest stars took a more vocal stand for Christ? Or should Tim behave more like Peyton and be less overt? Think about yourself. Are you more comfortable sharing your faith in word (your message) or deed (your life)?