Are You Ready For Some Football & Jesus!

 Thank you to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for blessing me to play the sport I so dearly love for almost three decadesEmmitt Smith

Thank you. Thank you. I am still standing. And I give all the glory to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  Floyd Little

My last couple words I want to say is me getting back home, I lost my mother, I went back home, spent a lot of time with her. Found me a good church. I got into the church. It steered me in the right direction. Man, I can say to all y’all in here, find you a church home and make sure you get Christ in your life. You hear what I’m saying? I see TD Jake’s out there. I get up every morning with him on my TV station. My bishop, Robert Banks. I got two guys in my life that keep me going the right way.   A lot of this stuff these young boys doing, the trouble they’re getting in, you need to point them towards Christ, point them towards Jesus, and their lives will get straight, the way mine going.  Rickey Jackson

At the Enshrinement Ceremony for the Class of 2010 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, not only was everyone ready for some football, but three of the Inductees were ready to talk some Jesus!  Emmitt Smith, the former Cowboy and Gator and, arguably the best running back who has every played the game, began the last speech of the evening with a shout-out to Jesus.  Just before Smith, former Denver Bronco running back Floyd Little opened his speech by giving glory to Jesus. 

But, perhaps in the most explicitly evangelistic speech of the night, Rickey Jackson, the kid from Pahokee, Florida, who went on to play linebacker for the New Orleans Saints (during their ‘Aints years), gave as direct an invitation as you’re likely to hear at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  On this night, Mel Tillis, the country singer and fellow Pahokee native, didn’t have anything on Rickey Jackson!

Flipping through the channels on Saturday night, I decided to check out what was happening in the world of football.  Turning to the NFL Network, I caught the Hall of Fame Ceremony already in progress.  Jackson had already given his speech, but as I watched Floyd Little begin his speech with Jesus, my heart (and my fist) began to pump.  That’s right, I said to myself.  And, when Emmitt Smith, who had memorized his speech, first thanked “my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” I was busting!

Wow!  What a wonderful testimony.  At the culmination of great careers, these three men remembered to thank the One who made it all possible.  They could have easily left out any overt mention of Jesus’ name and simply gone with a more general and less offensive thanking of “God.”  However, they chose to use their platform to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.  When too many people, including Christians, shrink back from saying the name of Jesus in public for fear of offending someone, Smith, Little, and Jackson made the most of the opportunity that had been given to them.

However, some who watched the Hall of Fame Ceremony on Saturday night and some reading this post were not excited like I was that Jesus’ name was even mentioned.   Perhaps you were offended that these former players used the spotlight to thank Jesus for blessing them. You were ready for some football and instead you got Jesus mentioned not just by one inductee, but by three.  Maybe you were a little (or a lot) upset that religion was injected into a sporting event. Do you think it’s right or wrong to talk about religion in a non-religious setting like the Hall of Fame Ceremony or at the end of a game?  Why or why not?

Of course, I was not offended at hearing the name of Jesus mentioned on national television.  But, if three of the inductees had started their speeches with “thanking Allah,” or giving “praise to Buddha,” would I have been as happy?  To be honest, I would not have.  We live in a pluralistic society with adherents of several major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Buddhism, and Islam, not to mention the untold number of minor religious sects.  Because of that, I need to remember that when I’m ready for some football and Jesus, my neighbor maybe ready for some football and Allah.  Let’s make a wager bet deal.  I promise not to be offended if you’re not.  Just let me know what time kick-off is!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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