LAS VEGAS – Super Bowl Week is about the NFL's two best teams, its best players and most accomplished coaches. It's always been that way throughout the 58 years the game has dominated our attention at season's end.
Super Bowl week traditionally has also been about some outrageous parties -- not to mention some ribald stuff happening around town.
But there is a counterpoint to all that. This Super Bowl week and the game that's coming has shifted some of the attention to something more reverent. Because lately, and definitely this week, the greatest players and biggest names are sharing their faith.
And they're sharing glory and credit for their accomplishments with Jesus Christ.
Lamar Jackson Thanks His Lord
"First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said after receiving the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award at the NFL Honors show Thursday night.
The statement, delivered in front of a packed theater and national television audience, drew applause.
"Without Him, none of this is possible," Jackson added after being recognized for basically being the league's best player during the regular season.
And as the show continued to put the league's biggest stars on stage, they continued to put Jesus Christ in the spotlight.
"First and foremost, I want to give all glory and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," were the first words out of the mouth of Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud after he accepted the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
C.J. Stroud Bold For Jesus Christ
Stroud has made this statement before practically every interview and press conference this entire season. He did it during his week on radio row.
And sometimes that has been to the chagrin of some folks, like those at NBC's social media department that edited out the statement during an on-field interview after a Sunday Night Football telecast.
But not this night. Stroud thanked the Texans, his family, Ohio State, and even his home region of Southern California, for helping him achieve his success.
"I'm a living testimony of trusting your goals and your dreams," Stroud added, "And I thank God for this."
The Texans, by the way, boast the Defensive Rookie of the Year, too. That's because Will Anderson Jr. won the prestigious defensive award that was announced during the same Honors show as the others.
Will Anderson Makes Statement
And like the others, Anderson gave thanks to God.
"First, I got to give all glory to God, man," Anderson said on stage. "Without Him none of this is possible, man. He deserves all the honor and praise."
Are you seeing a pattern here? Because it is apparent that even in Sin City and in a society threatening to grow darker, there are prominent people boldly representing light.
Last year's Super Bowl served as something of an example of this, too. Both Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts – the starting quarterbacks of that game – spoke openly about their faith in God and Jesus before that game.
Well, Mahomes has done it again at this Super Bowl. And this year he's been joined by 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who told reporters he prays even during games.
"Yeah, yeah, I do," Purdy said. "You know, it's not can we, you know, God can we win here? Can we do something great here? It's just more to have that peace, that steadfastness amid all the chaos. That's really what it is.
"And sink it back into, ‘Holy Spirit, you know, take over and lead me here in this moment. And allow me to think clearly, allow me, you know, to obviously go through my reads.’ And, like I said, just have an even-keeled state of mind that I get from [the] Holy Spirit."
Brock Purdy Standing On Psalm 23
Purdy has had a wild ride the past calendar year. He injured the elbow in his throwing arm in the NFC Championship game loss to the Eagles in January of 2023. He required a serious Tommy John procedure to repair the injury.
And while he was recovering and unable to compete for his job as the team's starter, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told him the team was going to contact Tom Brady to see if he'd like to be the starter.
Brady declined, but through that uncertainty, the elbow rehabilitation, and a season in which he threw 31 TD passes, Purdy has turned to Scripture for support and guidance.
"For me it's been Psalm 23," he said. "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I feel no danger for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. And then, it also talks about how God prepares a table before me, even in the presence of my enemy.
"So even though all the craziness is going on for me, I'm like God is with me. He's right here in this moment. And it gives me peace. It gives me, you know, just the calmness, the steadfastness. Yeah, in those moments, that's what I can sink back to."
Players Using Platforms For Jesus
None of this means every player in the Super Bowl is a Christian. It doesn't mean every accomplished player in the league is a Christian.
But it's increasingly clear those who are, are stepping forward and sharing their faith. Even on the NFL's grandest stage.
"I think there are more players recognizing that their voice can be heard more in today's age of social media, and they're being more bold in taking a stance for Christ," said Jason Romano, a former ESPN producer who started the SportsSpectrum podcast that follows Christian athletes.
"I think it can have a huge effect in reaching people with the hope found only in Jesus. It's awesome."