Yes, Patriots fans, I know that Tom Brady is a cradle Catholic who wed supermodel Gisele Bundchen at St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Santa Monica, California (a wedding attended by his year-and-a-half-old son by actress Bridget Monyahan, whom he did not marry, and during whose pregnancy he was courting his eventual wife).
But, I’m a Seahawks fan, so before I run out to Mass and then head off to a Super Bowl party (sure I’m not alone in that), I’d like to tell you a little about two of the reasons I joined the happy band of long-distance 12s (the “12th Man” is the name given to the Seahawks’ incredibly loyal and LOUD fans, a reference to the 11 players allowed on the field for each team, with the fans adding one more).
After a rocky start, the Seahawks settled in, but as they took on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 18, advancing to their second Super Bowl in a row was by no means guaranteed. And, up until the last 3:25 seconds of the game, it looked like a bust. A lot has been written about how the Seahawks capitalized on several improbable lucky breaks to eventually win the game in overtime, but one wacky play caught my eye.
After scoring a touchdown that put them just barely in the lead, rather than just kicking for the extra point, the Seahawks opted for a two-point conversion. Wilson threw into the arms of tight end Luke Willson, and voila, it worked.
But, the lead didn’t hold up, and the Packers scored again and tied up the game, sending it into overtime. During that, the Seahawks scored another touchdown, and off they were to Arizona to defend their Super Bowl title.
After the game, sports columnist John Boyle of the Everett (Wash.) Herald, tweeted, “My god that two-point play was ridiculous. As Luke Willson put it: “If we run that play call 100 times, that might happen once.”
In his rundown of the game at SBNation.com, writer Danny Kelly wrote, “How many times would Russell Wilson think they’d hit that play if they run it 100 more times? ‘Never.'”
In his tearful postgame interview, Wilson told sports broadcaster Erin Andrews, “God is so good all the time, man, every time.”
Wilson — who visits a children’s hospital in Seattle every Tuesday — is an outspoken Christian, having undergone a powerful conversion experience as a teenager (and he’s not alone in his faith on the team).
“In terms of my legacy off the field,” Wilson said at the Super Bowl XLIX media day, “I want to be a Christian man that helps lead and helps changes lives and helps serve other people. It’s not about me.”
In a story posted at the National Catholic Register on Jan. 30, Catholic Luke Willson, a native of Windsor, Canada, and a participant in Catholic Athletes for Christ, spoke of his prayer routine:
Yes, I pray in the end zone before the game, and also at halftime. I thank God for where I’m at and ask for protection and guidance for me and the team. I also say a guardian angel prayer (the one that starts out, “Angel of God, my guardian dear …”), an Our Father, a Hail Mary, a prayer of praise and also one to St. Sebastian, a patron of athletes.
Prayer helps to calm me down and get the right perspective on life. It’s a reminder that the most important things are not seen and that, long after this life, heavenly friendships endure. It’s also a very basic way of being supplied with the grace to live a Christian life. Being a Christian is not just a matter of study; it’s about living in Christ. We can’t do that unless we’re praying daily.
One of the biggest things you get from prayer is recognition of the many blessings God has given us. You see that God is the first source of any blessing and that he is only concerned about our good. You think in terms of God’s ways instead of your own, which sets you free to glorify him.
The question always comes up, “Does God care who wins a football game?”
I’m not prepared to make pronouncements on what God does or doesn’t care about, as I’m not God — and I default to the assumption that nothing is below or above the notice of God, and He intercedes, or not, as He sees fit — but in terms of any sporting event, I suspect that God only cares about the outcome inasmuch as it positively affects the salvation of the participants and fans.
Sometimes a loss is better for us spiritually; sometimes, a win.
Did God guide that ball to from Wilson to Willson to ensure the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl? Does he guide the arm of Tom Brady? Who knows?
But when I saw a circle of Seahawks join hands and get down on their knees to pray after the NFC Championship win, and then heard Wilson’s comments, it warmed my heart. The thought of Willson saying his prayers in the end zone warms my heart.
It’s my personal belief that God is a football fan, but one thing I do know for sure — God is a fan of humanity, and the more that sports can bring out the best in us, the happier He is.
Oh, and … Go Hawks!
Photos: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons