TAMPA, Fla. (BP)–Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin has had a bittersweet year: a Super Bowl berth and a painfully broken face, causing him to miss two games.
For Boldin, however, there has been one constant: His faith and testimony in Jesus Christ.
When Boldin was injured against the New York Giants on a vicious hit this year, his wife called the Cardinals team chaplain for prayer while he was still on the way to the hospital.
Well before he could get back on the field to help his team move toward their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, Boldin was back at the team’s regular Wednesday chapel.
When he showed up just three days after surgery, it was nothing unusual for Boldin.
“That’s just who I am; that’s just my faith,” he told Baptist Press. “No matter what goes on in my life — surgeries, injuries, hard times or whatever, I’m a man of faith and I believe that’s one of the reasons I’m here today.”
Boldin said his faith is “what keeps me grounded; it’s what keeps me focused. Through life you are going to go through some ups and downs, you are going to go through some hardships, but me being grounded in my faith I think truly is the reason that I’m here.”
Boldin was one of numerous Cardinals players on the field at Raymond James Stadium for the Jan. 27 media day who voiced their faith in Jesus Christ to an array of reporters who have descended on Tampa, Fla., for this Sunday’s Super Bowl pitting the Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Defensive end Bertrand Berry, in his fifth year with the Cardinals — longer than many players on the team — said finally playing in football’s biggest game isn’t equal to what ultimately is important in his life.
“A lot of athletes live their life any way they can, regardless of what it shows,” Berry said. “I think when you see a teammate like Kurt Warner sharing, it’s a testament to the faith both he and I have.
“I think Kurt is a Hall of Fame person along with a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Berry said.
As usual, Warner took the media stage Tuesday to share his faith in Jesus Christ to anyone who would ask and listen.
“I never want to force what I believe or any of those issues on anybody else. I’m always there,” Warner said in response to one reporter’s question about how he is open about his Christian faith. “I’m willing to share and talk to them about any questions and issues they may have.”
The number 13 on his jersey, Warner told reporters, was his second choice in college, but he kept it after entering the NFL because it is a sign of his faith.
“A lot of people think 13 is an unlucky number, a lot of superstitions and negative things come with the number 13. The one thing I know in my life is that my life is never dictated by superstitions and it’s never dictated by unlucky numbers,” Warner said.
“My faith is always first and foremost, and God supersedes everything. And so a number that a lot of people wouldn’t choose, that they wouldn’t put in a hotel or whatever it is, I kind of embrace it to say, ‘Hey, my belief is in something a lot greater than numbers and superstitions; it is in God.'”
Defensive end Antonio Smith, like Berry, draws inspiration from watching Warner mix faith and football in a non-threatening manner.
“Kurt is a shining beacon to what all Christian witness should be like,” Smith said. “Be like Christ in all that you do.”
Wide receiver Jerheme Urban told reporters the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers isn’t going to change the way he lives his life.
“My faith stays the same. Maybe we have a chance to share with a few more people in a different stage if we win, but my faith stays the same.”
Cornerback Michael Adams, who is in his second NFL season, said he watched last year’s Super Bowl as little-known New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree emerged as the game’s unlikely hero, then used the spotlight to share his faith in Christ.
“When God gives me the chance,” Adams said, “I want to share with the world. I know I have to give glory; that’s what Kurt [Warner] does and what David did.”
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness newspaper (www.floridabaptistwitness.com). Art Sticklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent for Baptist Press. They are in Tampa, Fla., covering activities leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl, along with Bob Carey, a photojournalist and chairman of the department of communication studies at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.