When the Philadelphia Eagles run onto the Super Bowl field at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota at 10am on Monday (EST), chances are they were praying only minutes before. Probably a good thing: they’re up against the New England Patriots, who took out the Super Bowl in 2017 and are in their eighth championship game since 2000.
The Eagles are the popular underdogs to win tomorrow, and they’re full of faith. The team released an official Eagles video late last year featuring injured quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver Torrey Smith and other Eagles players talking about how they came to faith and how their relationship with God impacts their game and “binds” their team together.
“To have that here in an NFL facility like this … it’s really special.” – Carson Wentz
Smith said Sundays for a football player is all about the game. “You can’t go to church,” he said. So the Eagles have “Chapel”, what Smith describes as a “small church service where we’re able to get the Word in”. There’s a Bible study for players and their partners on Monday nights, a Thursday night team Bible study and, on Saturdays, there’s a prayer meeting.
“To have that here in an NFL facility like this … it’s really special,” says Wentz, who won’t play in the Super Bowl due to injury.
The team has gone on mission trips to Haiti and are engaged in community service. Wentz has also written a four-day Bible devotional that can be accessed on YouVersion’s The Bible App, titled Audience of One.
In October 2016, Eagles tight end Trey Burton and the team’s chaplain Pastor Ted Winsley conducted a baptism for six Eagles players in a cold tub at the Eagles’ practice facility. Other baptisms have been done on the road, in hotel pools.
“It was crazy,” Winsley told the St Louis Post-Dispatch, “The guys were just hungry, wanting their lives changed.”
“You don’t just throw the Bible at them.” – Carson Wentz
Smith says that the guys of faith are respectful of others in the team who don’t share their beliefs. “You don’t just throw the Bible at them,” he said.
“They have the right to believe [what they believe]. But you can share what you know. I think it’s important not to look down on other religions.”
Wentz believes the key to sharing his faith effectively in the NFL is to be “genuine and authentic.”
“With believers and non-believers, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to love on them. I’m going to treat them all the same. I’m going to respect them. And as a leader of the football team, I’m going to lead everyone the same, too.
“I think guys are willing to talk when you don’t have this self-righteous attitude about you. You’re just open to talk about spiritual things, talk about religion, talk about real-life issues.”