GetReligion readers know that I am a big sports fan, even during these days of NFL confusion. I lived in greater Baltimore for 12 years and followed the Ravens quite closely.
So, yes, I watched the NFL Hall of Fame speeches the other day, in part because Ray "God's linebacker" Lewis was a first-ballot pick and he spoke at the end of the program.
Now, you knew that Lewis was going to go into full-tilt preacher mode when given this kind of platform. Right?
So imagine my rather cynical surprise when I picked up my Knoxville News Sentinel the next day and saw this headline on the Associated Press story covering this event: "Hall of Fame speeches get political." That was a shorter version of the AP's own headline: "Hall of Fame speeches get political in Canton, Chattanooga."
Ah come on. Yes, there was obvious political implications to many of the remarks. I get that.
But several of the speakers packed their speeches with so much Godtalk that I thought the NFL police were going to have to rush in to prevent them from ending with an altar call. Many of the most striking remarks, in terms of politics, were mixed with religious content. I mean, Lewis -- in a plea for safer schools -- even talked about prayer in American schools.
This was a classic example of one of GetReligion's major themes: "Politics is real. Religion? Not so much." Here is the AP overture, which is long -- but essential. You have to see how hard AP worked to stress the political over the spiritual.
CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Just as the demonstrations of players during the national anthem have become a means of expression for NFL players, the stage at the Hall of Fame inductions often turns into a political platform. It certainly did Saturday night.
Ray Lewis did so with his words, and Randy Moss with his tie.
There even were political tones with a different target 600 miles away during Terrell Owens’ speech at his personal celebration of entering the pro football shrine.