MIAMI (BP)—From South Beach with all its glitz and glamour to an array of parties in other parts of Miami, the Super Bowl XLI scene is one large distraction for faith-filled players and coaches.
Indianapolis Colts defensive back Matt Giordano has found a way to keep his focus on the things of Christ.
“There’s not many times where I get to read my Bible outside on the beach in Indianapolis, especially in the wintertime,” he said.
“It’s 8 degrees at home right now and I go to this big beautiful beach to read my Bible every morning,” he said, sweeping his hands across the oceanside resort serving as the team’s headquarters this week.
“I read a chapter of the Old Testament, maybe a chapter of the New Testament and some Psalms and Proverbs and I’m ready for the day.”
Giordano was among a number of Colts players who followed the lead of their coach, Tony Dungy, in telling about their faith in Christ during the team’s media session on Wednesday.
Last year, several of the Colts players helped produce a CD distributed by Sports Spectrum titled “More Than a Game,” in which they shared that their faith is more important than an on-field win or loss. This week, they were quick to point out that their upcoming title contest with the Chicago Bears is important, but still, not as important as their faith.
Colts punter Hunter Smith said unlike the Dallas Cowboys’ nickname as “America’s Team,” his team has a higher calling.
“This is a God-centered team, an amazing team,” Smith said. “With the leadership we get from Coach Dungy and the number of guys on this team who love the Lord, this is really the best team I’ve ever been on.”
With the Colts making their first Super Bowl visit since moving to Indianapolis, Smith said the spiritual focus of his team will not be determined by Sunday’s football outcome.
“Our success will not be dictated by a win or a loss on Sunday, but by our faith in God.”
Offensive lineman Jeff Saturday achieved every lineman’s dream by scoring a touchdown in the Colts AFC title game victory over the New England Patriots, but he said his real dream this week is to share his faith in Christ with as many people who will listen.
“God has given us a great opportunity and platform this week to talk about our faith in Him. God gave us this chance, but we have to keep giving Him the glory.”
While the Colts have a large number of Christians, not every player on the 53-man unit is a believer. Defensive back Dexter Reid said the consistent witness of Dungy and various players has affected everyone on the squad.
“I grew up in New Jersey attending a Baptist church [Bethany Baptist in Farmingdale] and my faith was strong, but then I went to high school and college and it slipped some.
“Once I got around solid Christian guys like Hunter Smith and Jeff Saturday and Coach Dungy, they challenged me in getting my faith back to where it was. They challenged me to study God’s Word like I study our playbook for the Colts.”
As the team’s long snapper, Justin Snow, who attended Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is usually one of the least-noticed members of the Colts, but one bad snap on a field goal attempt, punt or extra point and he knows he could be responsible if his team ultimately fails.
“My faith is a big part of me and I think it would make this job harder if I didn’t have a faith in Christ,” Snow said. “Not many people know about me unless I mess up, but I know I can leave the eternal results to Him.”
The Colts have been one of the most consistent winning teams in the 21st century — a fact Snow believes is no surprise.
“When I started playing, my high school coach was a man of strong faith –- no screaming or cursing and we were really successful. When I went to college, we didn’t have those strong faith coaches and we struggled as a team.
“Now I’m here with Tony and the Colts and we are winning again; you can’t disregard what that means to our team.”
Baptist Press sports correspondent Art Stricklin is on site at Super Bowl XLI in Miami, filing daily reports on the spiritual side of the NFL’s championship game.