Does the NFL have a prayer?

SteelGal6 1Once again, it is Sunday afternoon. For many Americans that means it is time to sit down with some popcorn and watch NFL football games. I do not, however, know if this is true for many GetReligion readers. Perhaps this is when you sit down and read the entire New York Times or some other source of wisdom, truth and information.

I watch football.

Anyway, I have held off this strange little post just in case there are football fans in our cyber-midst. Since I live in Baltimore, I have had a thousand different opportunities in the past week to watch a video clip of a Ravens linebacker named Bart Scott knocking the living daylights out of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It was the hit of the week on the planet Earth.

That hit led to the following anecdote in the Baltimore Sun, part of a wrapup by the gloriously named columnist Peter Schmuck, who is one of the few reasons that I still take The Sun. In a way, this little clip in linked to that Sports Illustrated cover story on superstar Ray "God's Linebacker" Lews that young master Daniel Pulliam discussed a week or so ago.

Here is the heart of the item from Schmuck:

Ray Lewis ... knelt beside a motionless Ben Roethlisberger during the painful, suspenseful moments after a vicious sack by fellow linebacker Bart Scott in the first half of yesterday's 27-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If it looked like Lewis was praying, he was, but he also was begging Roethlisberger to get up.

"Ben and I are friends," Lewis said. "Before every game, when we see each other, we touch our hearts. When he went down, no matter how big the play was, you don't want to see that. I was just praying ... and I was saying, 'Just make sure you get up. Your teammates are watching. Your family is out there somewhere. Just get up.'" Roethlisberger did get up and leave the game temporarily with a bruised chest.

Why do I mention this? I saw that game and watched that scene very carefully. I have seen the replay over and over. I have yet to see the image of Lewis kneeling and praying next to his friend.

This raises a question about the NFL and the television networks that work with it. Several years ago, there was a controversy when the networks made a decision -- or made a decision at the urging to NFL officials -- to stop showing the prayer circles that where drawing many players to the center of the field after each contest. Ever since, I've been trying to tell if these prayers have been stopped altogether.

So this raises a question for me: Have the networks been instructed not to show prayers of any kind? Did the producers avoid the image of Lewis praying for Roethlisberger? Just asking.

If there are GetReligion readers who watch NFL games, you might join me in watching closely to see if we can catch glimpses of this dangerous form of social interaction among the players.

Photo from BaltimoreRavens.com.

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