I have been a football fan for as long as I can remember. It is my favorite sport. For many years I have especially followed and enjoyed college football, and, of course, my favorite team is Penn State.
To a some what lesser degree I have also enjoyed professional football despite the fact that I feel the players are seriously overpaid. Years ago I liked the Pittsburgh Steelers when Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw led them to several championships. But most of my life I have followed the Philadelphia Eagles, even though following them has often been very frustrating
But this year has been different. They had an outstanding young quarterback. They had an explosive offense. They overcame many serious injuries and played as a team. They made the play-offs despite being an underdog in all of their play-off games. And then they finally won a Super Bowl against what has been, for several years, pro football's top team. It was a dream season.
However, I think the main reason that I enjoyed following them this year was that they have an unusual number of players who are open about their Christian faith. And their testimonies are solid. They are not bashful about sharing their faith. At the Super Bowl even their coach gave credit to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Bowl's most valuable player wants to be a pastor. The player who scored the winning touchdown says his main goal is to win Disciples for Christ. They even held a baptism in a hotel pool during one of their trips. And they regularly have Bible studies which are attended by many of the team members. I have found all of this amazing and I must admit that while I couldn't bring myself to pray that the Lord would let them win, I did pray that the Lord would give them a bigger platform to share their faith. And He has.
The reaction of the public to the team's success was incredible. People sang and displayed "Fly, Eagles, Fly". Folks wore Eagle gear in all sorts of places. One of my doctors wore an Eagles jersey when I had my appointment with him. People produced special food in honor of the Eagles. Businesses and even some churches displayed signs supporting them.
So many old-timers shared that they felt they would never see a Super Bowl victory by the Eagles in their lifetime. Even my eleven year old grandson remarked that he had waited all his life to see this happen. But his grandfather felt the same and I had several decades of watching them lose.
Then there was the big victory parade in Philadelphia. Even WGAL, our local television station, carried the entire event. And estimates of two million people flocked there to be part of this special celebration. And nobody destroyed property or attacked the police as so often has happened at such celebrations in other major cities. It actually was a great event to end a spectacular and unexpected season. But there were a few things that bothered me.
The Eagles pro-bowl center stirred up the crowd with his profane language. He even urged the crowd to call out a profane chant. In fact WGAL even cut off its coverage of part of remarks several times and apologized for it. That was such a sad contrast to what many of the Christian teammates have publicly shared during the season.
One of the players shared that he thought this day and celebration was like heaven. It made me think that he didn't really have any idea what heaven will be like. And if this was heaven, then we really have no hope. Unfortunately, he is the one who probably has no hope. I pray that he may respond to the testimonies of his teammates
Then I was also amazed at how many people shared that this was the greatest day of their lives. A Super Bowl win was really the greatest day of their lives? Really? How sad. What are they living for, just a Super Bowl win? What sad lives they must have. And I am reminded again how much people really need the Lord and the real hope that believers have.
Now I really enjoyed the excitement of the games, the parade, the results and the celebrations. But I am thankful that I have a real hope for the future - something infinitely greater than a Super Bowl win. I have already experienced so many great events that the Lord has provided for me in my life, but I am promised so much more. And while millions may sing "Fly, Eagles, Fly", I know that my song really is "Fly, Christian, Fly". And sometime, maybe soon, that will happen. Then I''ll be part of a much greater celebration than that one in Philadelphia.