NFL Championship Sunday – Praying for a Victory … OK, Not Really

“When you hang with a bunch of 300-pound linemen, you tend to find the places that are the greasiest and serve the most food” – Tom Brady

Today is championship Sunday in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens play at the New England Patriots for the AFC title, and the San Francisco 49ers play at the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC title. I’m still slightly on the fence over who I’m pulling for. I tend to prefer Baltimore over New England; not because I particularly like the Ravens, but living near Baltimore I have a lot of friends who are Ravens fans. Thus, I would like to see the Ravens win just for their sake. (It’s the same reason I pull for Kansas State. I have no affinity for the wildcats, but possiblywrong graduated from KSU so I’d like to see them win for his sake.)

On the other front I find myself nearly fully in toss-up mode. We moved a lot growing up, which forced me to find new football allegiances every three years or so. At my earliest remembrances it was the Minnesota Vikings. Then we moved to Atlanta for a few years and I had to become a Falcons fan. (Talk about miserable – try being an Atlanta Falcons fan in the early 80s … they were horrible.) After that we moved to North Carolina, which had no NFL team (the Panthers didn’t exist yet). Most of my friends were Redskins fans, but we were actually still closer to Atlanta (as the crow flies) than Washington. So, I attempted to maintain my loyalty to the lowly Falcons.

Decades of Misery followed by a loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII, on some level I’d like to see the Falcons step back onto the big stage. But it’s hardly a deep allegiance.

On the other side of the coin is the San Francisco 49ers. While I’m not a fan, I am intrigued by the story lines here. First, there’s Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers and brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Boy, that’d make a great story wouldn’t it? Brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. Then there’s Colin Kaepernick, rookie QB who, it turns out, is pretty unbelievable. Harbaugh has developed this team, and the rookie QB, in an impressive fashion. It’s hard not to root for that.

The good news is that it hardly matters who I’m pulling for. The game will be decided by the players, not my wishes.

Speaking of, I actually had a conversation just yesterday about praying for a victory for your team. I’ve discussed the issue before, but it came up again so I figured I’d give it a few sentences. First, I don’t have any problem with people praying to God about any and everything. (I mean, even if you or I are being silly, what better place to take our silliness [and get it straightened out] than God?)

So by all means, talk to God about how you really want your team to win the game. But remember, there are just as many Christians (your brothers and sisters) who actually want the other team to win. OK, probably not “just as many” – I mean there tend to be more Christians (density-wise anyway) in the southeast and midwest than the northeast and west coast. So, it’s very possible that more Christians want Atlanta to win than San Francisco, or Baltimore (midatlantic) than New England. But I digress, the exact number hardly matters.

The point is that even on trivial matters, we Christians can fall prey to projecting our desires onto God (or, let me say evangelical Christians like myself – the mainliners and Catholics tend to be a little less “me at the middle” from what I can tell).

So “go Ravens” … more or less. And go Atlanta or San Francisco … I’m still a game-time decision. But moreso, let us pray for no injuries, and no fights at the stadiums, and no friendships ended over feuding about the game.


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