Every year about this time, we face a blitz of profile stories of coaches, athletes, owners, fans and even pets preparing to square off on Super Bowl Sunday (I'm a huge fan of Puppy Bowl, by the way). The big story in advance of the 2014 human installment: the frigid temperatures and whether or not the Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos matchup can attract a proper crowd within the confines of New Jersey's undomed MetLife Stadium.
Second to that, we're being treated to a lineup of features on the teams, faith angles and other more spiritual sides of the Sunday offering.
Some stories, like some Super Bowl pairings, are better than others.
From the Chicago Tribune comes a winner on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his Christian faith:
Seattle's franchise quarterback is a devout Christian, so fans should hope he doesn't cut his hair prior to Sunday and lose strength much like Samson in the Old Testament book of Judges. Samson got power from his flowing locks until the temptress Delilah took shears to his dome piece.
(Christianity) has helped Wilson both on and off the football field, and there is no better time than now at the Super Bowl to have faith in what he believes in. Scroll through Wilson's Twitter page and you will be reminded where his heart and soul reside.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
That was taken from the book of Matthew and perfectly defines Wilson, who has been searching for success in sports and as a human being. The former Wisconsin star takes excerpts from various books of the Bible and uses them in his every day life.
Touchdown, Tribune! A fine example of using Scripture and its application in proper context. We never learn precisely what faith group with which Wilson aligns himself, but we delve more deeply into his beliefs and perspective here than any other report I found.
Not to be outdone, the Denver Post found a creative angle with its piece on Archbishop Samuel Aquila, a fervent Broncos fan who plans to celebrate Mass with a group of players and coaches at the team's hotel Saturday night.
Aquila has become close to Broncos defensive coordinator Jack DelRio, and the two men are allowed to explain more about their faith journey that developed through the course of this season:
"When things are going well, I don't know that the challenges are as difficult as when they're not going well, and you're really leaning on your faith," (DelRio) said. "I think, certainly, faith is involved in both. My trust in God is involved in both, my faith is involved in both, but through some of the harder times in my career, I've leaned harder — more fervently — on my faith."
He said his faith helps him keep perspective, even when coaching on one of sport's most high-profile stages: the Super Bowl.
"(Faith is) certainly something I don't take for granted," Del Rio said. "I'm very appreciative of a great man like the archbishop in the church, and glad that he's going to be out here with us."
Aquila said his homily to the team Saturday will be guided by the Holy Spirit — and added, for good measure, that he will be cheering for a Broncos win, too.
We figured as much.
Reviewing our coverage, we've told you earlier this month how fans may — or may not be — praying their team to victory this weekend, according to a Public Religion Research Institute poll. I see the Dallas Morning News picked up on the poll, too, and put the question to theologians. I really liked Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis' take on the matter: "As to why people think it's important that God reward or punish teams and athletes, well, it's all there in Gen. 6, 'the desires thought up by man are constantly perverse.'"