Written by James Rathman
For as long as I can recall, since I was very young, I have been a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. Watching the games is my only real hobby, and for decades the team was terrible. It was agonizing at times to watch the Eagles. The Eagles had one losing season after another, and they would always seem to find a way to lose. However, the fans filled the stadium every game, truly hoping and believing that somehow they would win. It meant so much to a fan of the Eagles to win. Philadelphia and the surrounding area would be abuzz with excitement for at least a week after winning a game, and longer if they beat a rival opponent.
Something different was noticeably happening on the field this past year, during 2017, and into the playoffs in 2018. They were not only winning, but footballs were bouncing their way, the players were noticeably not trying not to lose, and there was something else going on. Five of their star players, including their dynamic new quarterback, Carson Wentz, were lost for the season due to injuries. But, they kept winning games, and that certain 'something' on the field was still going on. In one playoff game, the back-up quarterback, Nick Foles, threw the ball with time running out in the second half. The ball was heading for an interception, but it bounced off of a defender's knee, flew backwards for about 15 yards, a receiver for the Eagles caught it, and it set up a field goal with one second remaining. Without that play, the Eagles would have lost. A television announcer, who always had something to say, was confounded and without words when he was asked his opinion of what that certain something was, that was noticeably going on.
I started to discover that many of the new players were not only Christians, but they performed a number of baptisms during the past two years for other players. Tight end Trey Burton and Pastor Ted Winsley baptized six players at the team's practice facility. Another player, Marcus Johnson, was baptized in a hotel swimming pool. Many of the players were also involved in team Bible studies several times a week. They also had prayer gatherings the night before a game, met with a Chaplain right before each game, and Carson Wentz, before his injury, listened to Spiritual music on his headphones during warm-ups. Christians, who had never been football fans before, were now watching the Eagles and rooting them on.
Tight end Zach Ertz said, "This truly is a Brotherhood. Those guys are holding me accountable, I'm holding them accountable. We truly care about each other, we truly care about the growth that each individual has in the Word, as believers, as well as friends and family. There are a lot of guys who are truly trying to boost me up and keep me focused on the main thing, which is obviously, the Word."
Speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith played for Baltimore and then for San Francisco before coming to Philadelphia. He commented, "They had a solid core of Christian players where I played at before, who used their faith for inspiration. I've been lucky to be part of three organizations that do have a very strong Christian presence. It's different here. The difference here is a lot of younger guys lead."
After learning about these and other Christian stories pertaining to the Eagles, one day, I thought, "Was it possible that the Holy Spirit of God was helping the Eagles along because of all of the prayers, Bible studies, baptisms, and such?!" In the least, the situation was curious. There were several things to consider. They were winning 'in a way' that had an 'intangible' that could not be logistically pinpointed. Many of the players were open to spread the hope and salvation of Jesus including on social websites. Many of the same players had a love of football, but a greater love for Jesus. These Christian football players had a desire to win to be able to talk about Jesus on a larger media platform due to any successes that they could achieve. Coincidence?
This week the Eagles are in the Super Bowl. The Eagles are playing against the Patriots who have won 5 Super Bowl titles compared to the Eagles winning zero Super Bowl titles. It would be great if the Eagles could win the game due to the fact that many more people would then hear about the hope of Jesus from their devoted Christian players. Whether or not the Holy Spirit is intervening in these games, whether or not the Eagles win the Super Bowl, one thing is certain…It's great to see professional football players who have such a love of the game, have that much more of a love for Jesus. Amen.
God only knows what would have happened if that ball was intercepted but I do know they still possibly could have won.
Even the previous week with Atlanta coach Pederson made a conservative effort to manage the clock and save a minute to be able to go down field and score should atlanta have taken the lead.
A team poised for success in a Godly unselfish way that God certainly rewards far greater then our own understanding. Sky is the limit when we put him first.
Thank you James