JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Markus Paul works throughout the year to make the New England Patriots a bigger, stronger and tougher team in his role as a strength and conditioning coach.
But with New England going for their third Super Bowl title in four years against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium, Paul knows it’s more important to be tougher and stronger spiritually than in any other part of his being.
“During the Super Bowl with all the activities and crazy things going on, it can be harder to stay strong for God, but if we keep our focus on God and strive to please Him, He will always honor our efforts,” Paul said the Super Bowl media day.
Unlike the Patriots position coaches who have to make adjustments before and during the game depending on what plays out on the field, Paul does almost all of his work in the week leading up to the game or in the off-season. He started his coaching career with the New Orleans Saints, working with current Patriots head strength coach and fellow believer Mike Woicik before joining New England and Woicik in 2000.
While his work may be done by the start of Super Bowl XXXIX late Sunday afternoon, Paul said his relationship with Christ has lifted him during the many long and tiring hours helping the Patriots get to the NFL title game.
“Sometimes the players get upset when they’re working out or get upset with each other, but it helps keep you balanced if you have a Christian mindset in all that you do.”
Paul said the Bible study which longtime Patriots chaplain Walt Day coordinates each week is a big help to him and fellow Christians on the New England squad.
“Going to the [Bible] study helps you to know that you are not alone,” Paul said. “There are a number of players on this team that have a like mind together.”
With all the talk this week about the potential greatness of the Patriots and their expected ease of victory Sunday, Paul said the Christian coaches and players are able to look beyond man’s praises.
“The Bible tells us not to focus on the praises of man. Pride comes before the fall. That’s why one of my favorite verses is Roman 8:18 which talks about the suffering of this present age not being comparable with the glories of Christ Jesus,” Paul said.
One challenge for Christian coaches like Paul is staying active in their home churches especially during the football season. He is involved in a Wednesday night Bible study which he is able to make part of the time and also worships at his church on Sunday night if a game finishes in time.
“Coaches put in so many hours during the week, it’s hard to be involved in different activities at church, but you have to stay strong in the Word,” Paul said.
The Patriots have already proven to be strong enough on the field with a 17-1 regular season and playoff record and a chance for a rare repeat as Super Bowl champions on Sunday, but Paul and others are doing their part to make sure the team stays strong spiritually both on and off the field.