For the Arizona Cardinals and their fans, Sunday January 18th is the biggest day in franchise history to date. The NFC Champion Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 in a game which they dominated the first half, and made a great comeback with a 5 minute drive to a touchdown to reclaim the lead in the second half, then held off the Eagles to win the game.
I was one of those native Arizonans who waited for professional football to come to Phoenix, and though through most of their years in the Valley of the Sun I lived elsewhere, I still rooted for them, hoping that one day their move would result in a winning team that might eventually make the Super Bowl. I always kept my eye on them, though with only one playoff appearance since moving to Arizona, there was little to endear them with the potential fan base in the nation’s fastest growing state. Tonight, they did us proud.
Even if I had not been a Cardinal fan before now, I would have been one during the past couple of years. I’m an admirer of Kurt Warner, not only because of his sportsmanship and his perseverance, but because he’s so open about his faith, and he does not take the credit for his success without giving glory to God and praise to his savior, Jesus Christ. Those were, predictably, the first words out of his mouth tonight, and they are words that ring true because of the way he plays, and the way he lives out what he says.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I Peter 5:6 NIV
In light of all of that, I was quite disturbed by the remarks of Peter Brown, a radio announcer for Sporting News Radio. On the way home from a Bible study, listening to his broadcast on a late night program, I heard Brown take issue with Warner’s remarks, particularly with his praise for Jesus, along with his later remarks about God being his source of strength. Brown chose to take offense, interpreting Warner’s remarks to mean that he (Warner) thinks that when he wins, he does so because God is on his side, implying that God isn’t on the side of the other team. According to Brown, Warner’s comments about his faith should be kept to himself, that they were not appropriate following his team’s NFC championship, and that people who don’t share Warner’s views, including himself, were left feeling “pretty bad about themselves” because of what Warner said tonight.
I’ve never heard of Peter Brown before, and never listened to his program before tonight. He missed the mark on Kurt Warner by a wide mile. Warner’s statements were simple, personal acknowledgements of his belief in God, his Christian faith including his personal testimony of faith in Christ, and his Christian humility as described in the verse I quoted above. I can’t imagine why those things caused Brown to jump to such conclusions, or take such offense, to suggest that, in the wake of an NFC championship, the quarterback of the winning team should censor his remarks about whom he choses to give the credit because they are of a religious nature. Warner wasn’t being arrogant, he was being honest. A good journalist would have recognized Warner’s achievement, reported his remarks without bias or prejudice, and wouldn’t have attempted to censor his free speech even if it did have religious content.
Tonight, Kurt Warner showed the nation what it means to be a graceful winner with a humble spirit. He is the kind of athlete that younger, aspiring athletes can look to as a role model. His faith in Christ only enhances his image. If what he said tonight touched just one life, and inspired just one person to give their life to Christ, it was worth far more than a victory in the Super Bowl.
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” I Peter 2:6