Alert: Godtalk on the gridiron

SeanTaylor1On the TV right now, Chris Collingsworth of NBC is talking about the Washington Redskins and the belief among the players that they are playing in honor of the late superstar Sean Taylor and that he is still with them. This is not an exact quote, but Collingsworth said something like this: "They believe that he is on that field with them. You don't have to believe it, but they do and that is having an impact on this game."

A few minutes, and another touchdown pass later, play-by-play man Tom Hammond said something like this as the network cut away for a break: "As Sean Taylor watches from the heavens above, the Redskins have taken the lead."

Talk about civil religion on a sports broadcast.

I bring this up, because of an interesting Washington Post pre-game story by Mike Wise that did a good job of covering the role that faith has played in the recent work of Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.

Now Gibbs, of course, is one of those people whose faith simply cannot be ignored when sportswriters try to describe his strengths and weaknesses. Young master Daniel Pulliam has, of course, written about this recently for GetReligion.

So take this as a shout out for Wise and this news feature, as I watch the Redskins (not one of my favorite teams, by the way) are trying to go even further ahead in what may turn into a, dare we say, miraculous comeback. Well, they just missed a 30-yard field goal, so hang on.

Whatever happens in the game, enjoy this passage, which is low key, factual and, no matter what happens in this game, totally relevant to the story of Gibbs and his team as they climbed back from emotional and professional disaster:

... Gibbs's football nadir was put into a much broader context. He and the entire Redskins organization and their families took a chartered flight to Miami to bury one of their own.

Gibbs ended his eulogy at the funeral with the words, "God, take care of Sean until we get home."

Later, Gibbs would use the term "surrender" to capture his mind-set at the time, saying Taylor's death had made him realize how powerless he was to affect every outcome. In perhaps unintended ways, that humility also influenced his changing role as the Redskins' coach in the weeks ahead.

In the interview this week, Gibbs said he had a spiritual awakening over the past month. His steadfast views as an evangelical Christian didn't change, he said, but he began to look hard and long at his own motivations behind spreading the message of his faith.

"I kind of had gone through these four years and I found myself sayin', 'Hey, Lord, you know, I really want to win football games and wind up coming out of this with a platform that I can honor you,' " Gibbs said. "That's what I was trying to say to the Lord. And it really caused some soul-searching for me because I realized probably in there that I was probably kidding myself and kidding the Lord.

"What I was doing was probably wanting it a lot for myself and not really being honest with the Lord," he continued. "And I think I needed to ask him for forgiveness on that. What I should be sayin' is what he wants. I should be sayin,' this is what God wants, not what I want."

What a story, no matter WHAT happens (the Seahawks just scored again to take back the lead). I'm going to click "publish" and put this up before I know the result. So there.

Update: The Seahawks now appear to be firmly in control. But that doesn't change the Post story or the amazing nature of the team's late-season comeback.

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