There is something about sports that bring out our deepest emotions. It's the moment when you line up with your team to hear the national anthem before the game. The team bus ride after the miracle come-from-behind victory. Even the moments of pain following a big loss or suffering a significant injury to your roster. Sports are lived in a way that often feel larger than life.
This season as an Eagles fan has been one of the most remarkable things I've ever watched in sports. As a young boy I remember listening to the pre-game radio show as we drove to Vet Stadium. Sitting in the stands with my Dad when they lost the Super Bowl in Jacksonville. And even joking with my wife that we would name our first child after "Desean" if he could return a last minute punt for a touchdown. But something about the 52nd Super Bowl stands out in a whole new way to me.
Winning with Purpose
You may have heard throughout the season that the Philadelphia Eagles are fairly outspoken for having a large contingent of Christians on the team. From Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, along with several other key players all the way up to Head Coach Doug Pederson, this team points upward and outward first.
As a 37 year old, and one who took a major personal step in my faith in Christ just within this decade, it has made a profound impact on me as a believer. It has reminded me that it's ok to be open and even boldly so about my faith. After becoming the Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles has a platform much bigger than I do. Yet he doesn't shy away from speaking out about the importance of his faith. Why then should I not do the same with my God given platform?
When I talk about this team I always say that there is "something special" about them. An X-factor quality that you can't really put your finger on. After watching Foles and Coach Pederson publicly pronounce their faith in Christ after the Super Bowl victory it struck me that this in fact was their secret strength. As a team, bonded in their love for God and one another, something bigger than any position, accolade or accomplishment was born. And what an awesome sight to watch take flight for 19 games.
We > Me
Another aspect of this team to be celebrated was the "next man up" mentality shown throughout the season. From future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters and regular season MVP candidate Carson Wentz on down the line through key positions, every time a major player went out the rest of the unit stepped up their game to fill the void. Coaching has a lot to do with this, no doubt. But a belief in your team's ultimate destiny certainly does as well.
It is clear that this team put the organization, along with the city of Philadelphia, ahead of themselves this season. Michael Kendricks, who wanted to be traded prior to the season, stepped up and accepted a "whatever is asked of me I'll do it" mentality that exhibited this throughout the year. Carson Wentz continued to help his team in breaking down film and working with his close friend Nick Foles instead of pouting over his injury. Legarret Blount took less carries, Alshonn Jefferies less passes and Malcom Jenkins less time in his prime coverage position for the greater benefit of the TEAM above the SELF.
In 2018 I want to use this example to excel further in putting God and others above myself. Where can I do more to help those around me? What personal gain am I willing to sacrifice? Each of us has an opportunity to make a great statement of our faith by our actions and intentions. Remember your ultimate purpose, speak and live boldly for God's glory, put WE before ME and one day you're trophy will outshine any earthly reward.