Brian Kilmeade announces how he will predict if the Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs will win.
The NFL went from kneeling in protest to kneeling in prayer. Football lost key support from conservative fans during the Colin Kaepernick protest era. But the post-COVID-19 era is one of open religious faith and nowhere is that more obvious than in Super Bowl LVII.
The biggest of big games features two quarterbacks – Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes – who are both openly men of Christian faith. And even the legacy media embrace it.
The press highlighted the league’s belief when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was injured, but it’s much more than just one time. For his part, Kaepernick is doing Hulu documentaries and is largely forgotten on the gridiron. Even his Google mini bio labels him an “American civil rights activist.”
CBS Sports profiled Hurts at the beginning of the season and wrote, “But where family and fashion and good tunes keep him level, faith keeps him strong.” That’s CBS not CBN.
Hurts emphasized his faith. And CBS did, too. “’I’ve just matured and realized that God is everything,’ Hurts says, ‘and He’s worthy of praise. You have to put Him at the center of everything that you do. That’s what I believe.’”
That’s word for word from CBS, complete with capitalizing “God,” “He’s” and “Him.” It even appears to violate the infamous AP Stylebook which calls to “lowercase the pronouns referring to the deity.”
Hurts also invoked God after winning the NFC championship. “Only God knows the things that each individual on this team has been able to overcome for us to come together as a team and do something special as a group,” he said.
Mahomes has a similar strong relationship with God. He went into the AFC Championship game with an injured ankle, with sportswriters questioning how it would limit his performance. But he triumphed, even running the ball on a key play. After the victory, Mahomes knew who to thank. “First off, I want to thank God, man. He healed my body this week.” “He gave me the strength to be out here,” Mahomes added.
It wasn’t new for Mahomes to thank his Creator. “God is good! #blessed,” he tweeted in 2018, as one typical example.
The playoffs also featured a fresh face of faith, San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. He went from being the last player drafted this season, to winning seven games in a row, before losing a playoff game after a major injury. “God and Jesus are going to be my identity. And whatever I face, I won’t be shaken from it,” he said in 2021.
The NFL’s return to faith might not have been so obvious if it hadn’t been for tragedy. Bills’ safety Hamlin was seriously injured during the much-watched broadcast of “Monday Night Football.” His heart stopped.
It brought out the best in the NFL. The Bills huddled for a team prayer right on the field – the kind of scene that one Washington state high school football coach had to defend all the way to the Supreme Court.
The legacy media reacted to the injury … wonderfully. ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky prayed for Hamlin on air during “NFL Live.” “God, we come to you in these moments that we don’t understand, that are hard because we believe that you’re God and coming to you and praying to you has impact,” he said.
It was one of the most moving moments of the season. It wasn’t just a moment of shared pain. It was one of shared hope and shared faith.
The New York Times recognized it with a piece headlined, “Prayers for Damar Hamlin Show Bond Between Football and Faith.” The subhead made it more clear. “Christianity is embedded in N.F.L. culture in a way that goes beyond most sports; ‘Lord, I need you, please be by my side.’”
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen admitted he had “a spiritual awakening” after Hamlin’s injury. Hamlin tweeted before the final game of the season, “God Using Me In A Different Way Today. Tell Someone You Love Them Today!”
Football is a dangerous and violent sport. It always has been. Hamlin’s injury was a reminder of how all of us – football player and fan alike – are fragile and our days are numbered. Fans responded by sending millions to Hamlin’s charity work and the incident seemed to bring the sport together in a way that transcended statistics or even winning.
The left doesn’t like the shift back to faith. The Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to tackle former retired NFL star Deion Sanders who coaches for the University of Colorado Boulder, according to CBN News. The anti-faith group said Sanders committed “inappropriate and unconstitutional actions.” In other words – prayer.
Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy was attacked for attending the annual March for Life in January. The Nation’s sports editor Dave Zirin accused Dungy of having “spent years as an anti-gay bigot” and blasted “the way the NFL and NBC coddle his right wing extremism.”
But liberals are losing. No matter how angry the left gets, NFL players are back celebrating their faith. And, so interestingly are the legacy media. It gives fans another reason to watch and celebrate this Super Bowl Sunday.
Dan Gainor is a freelance opinion editor for Fox News Digital.
This content was originally published here.