NFL Football, Kurt Warner and the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Wayne Drehs at ESPN.com has an excellent profile on Kurt Warner, the Pro Bowl quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. Drehs touches on the cinderella story of Warner going from grocery store clerk in Iowa, to Arena League standout to NFL Super Bowl winner and league MVP. But the focus of this story is Warner's Christian faith. After all, it's Warner's Christianity that has made him loved and shunned over his up-and-down NFL career. (And whether you're a football fan or not, this story is strong motivation to use whatever platform God has given us for His glory rather than our own.)
Warner understands the "limited" (as he calls it) perception he carries around the NFL as a "holier-than-thou" religious man. From the story:
And in a way, he understands [the perception]. That's what happens when you talk about Jesus, mention God or explain your selfless ways by professing your faith. That's what happens when you pass out football cards that in bold, red letters proclaim: "Read The Bible -- Attend Church -- Pray to God -- Tell Others About Jesus." And that's what happens when, after winning the Super Bowl MVP award, you stand on the biggest stage of your life and begin a postgame interview by saying, "First things first, I've got to thank my Lord and Savior above."
But while Warner insists there is more to him than some of the limited stereotypes around the NFL imply, he knows life is about far more than trophies, Super Bowl rings and autographs. Drehs explains:
But one has to look no further than a hallway in the Warners' house to understand where football ranks.
There, atop a massive black safe in which the home's previous owners used to store valuables, the Pete Rozelle Super Bowl MVP trophy sits tarnished, dusty and covered in fingerprints. A replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy looks much the same. A bunch of other trophies, commemorating everything from playing in the Pro Bowl to winning NFL Player of the Year honors, are tossed into the glorified box, with the door left open, less on display than just out of the way.
Warner's Super Bowl ring is there, too. For now. It's an ongoing joke in the Warner family -- all the unique places the ring has popped up over the years. Like under the couch, in the pool.
In the age of Terrell Owens, Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and Plaxico Burress, Kurt Warner stands out like a shining star at night. He is a man of faith trying to point people to Christ with the platform he's been given. He understands that by God's grace he is a steward. He has not become drunk on his success. He is practicing "blessed self-forgetfulness."
A final word from Warner:
"By understanding what my priorities are and never wavering, that's how you influence people," Warner said. "It isn't standing on my chair with a Bible and yelling out scripture or condemning people for being sinners. It's about living your life with a certain sense of excellence. And when people start to scratch their heads and wonder what it is that makes me different, that's when I tell them the answer is Jesus."
Read the whole thing.