Anyone who is following the Baltimore Ravens knows that one of the most controversial issues looming over the NFL has been the suspension of superstar Ray Rice after a videotaped episode of domestic violence.
Behind the scenes, the team scrambled to replace its star running back. Out of nowhere, journeyman Justin Forsett has emerged as one of the feel-good stories of the year, with the tailback's yards-per-carry average ranking as one of the best in football (even though he is 5-feet-8, 197 pounds).
The Baltimore Sun ran a lengthy profile of Forsett last week and, lo and behold, a major theme in the story was his strong but totally vague faith. GetReligion readers who are into sports, and there are a few of you out there, will remember that the Sun has, in recent years, been amazingly consistent in its approach to players who are religious believers. The bottom line: All fog, with specific details ignored or buried. Clearly, this has become a newspaper policy.
So what are readers fold about the faith of this crucial Ravens player?
The only running backs to gain more yards than Forsett are the Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray (785 yards), the Pittsburgh Steelers' Le'Veon Bell (542 yards), the Houston Texans' Arian Foster (513 yards) and the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy (422 yards). With 64 carries, 52 fewer than McCoy, Forsett has rushed for 14 fewer yards and is averaging nearly three yards per carry more than the Eagles' star.
Among the top-five runners, Forsett is the only back to rush fewer than 116 times.
"Justin Forsett, determined," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked to describe Forsett. "He's a man of great faith. He's a very thoughtful guy, highly-motivated, tremendous character and a heck of a football player. Fortunate isn't the word I'd use, just very blessed to have him on board."
So we have "great faith" and "tremendous character," resulting in the team being "very blessed" to have him around. The Raven's head coach -- a Super Bowl winner year before last -- is a frequent user of God talk, which has never been explored to any meaningful degree by the local newspaper.
Let's keep reading, with insights from offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who coached Forsett in Houston:
"He's played in a few places, and sometimes guys like these, they don't get many opportunities," Kubiak said. "But when they get them, they take advantage of them. He did that with me in the past. I think the biggest compliment I can pay Justin and John [Harbaugh] after being here is knowing he was the type of guy John wanted on his team. I'm very proud of him."
Let's underline that one as a veiled reference to Harbaugh's faith.
Later on there is this, where Forsett is described as:
... one of the most respected players in the Ravens' locker room. Forsett has a humble, low-key personality, but is typically smiling. He's outspoken about his religious beliefs and also writes a blog about his faith.
"He's one of the best men you'll ever meet, very religious, he's a family man," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "He's honestly one of the best people that I've ever had the opportunity to be around. He's wise beyond his years. ..."
You get the idea. So, what is the nature of this faith? Has his faith created bonds with some players but, in a locker room that contains some freewheeling egos, tensions with others? Does he have a pastor? A church? A place of service to the community? What has he said about his own faith online? What's this about him being a preacher's son?
The key is that faith is a major theme in the story, but the details just don't matter that much. Is this reallya Baltimore Sun policy on the sports pages?