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Super Bowl worship gains momentum


EDITOR’S NOTE: Art Stricklin, a sports correspondent for Baptist Press and director of ministry relations for Marketplace Ministries in Dallas, is reporting daily from the site of Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, with exclusive coverage for BP readers on the spiritual side of the Super Bowl

PHOENIX (BP)–The annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is “one of the few nightly events you can bring your entire family to,” former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Marcus Price said of the gathering of NFL players, coaches and fans in town for Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.

“It’s an outlet for great gospel music, but also an outlet for real Christians who don’t go out to the parities and the nightclubs,” Price said of Friday’s sold-out celebration at the Phoenix Symphony Hall.

“You get what you want to find at the Super Bowl,” Price reflected, “but this is a night we can celebrate our love and our faith.”

For Seattle Seahawks place kicker Josh Brown, “It always helps you to be around other Christians, especially here in the NFL where we may not get to see each other as much.

“We are expanding the base here and spreading it more every year,” Brown added.

The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, now in its ninth year, is officially recognized by the league as an official Super Bowl activity.

With worship stretching long into the desert night, it featured an opening prayer from Giants team chaplain George McGovern, a gospel choir of NFL players and coaches and an appearance by New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree.

“I’m just glad to be here,” Tyree said as he entered the building on the final curfew-free night for Giants players before Sunday’s game. “It’s always good to praise the Lord.”

Among those in the choir were Patriots assistant coach and team chaplain Don Davis, Chicago Bears tackle Tommie Harris and Buffalo Bills tight end Michael Gaines.

“Our voices are anointed by God and we are just here to be real and … to show the world that we love God,” Gaines said.

An annual Super Bowl gathering for Christians “has been a long time coming,” Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli said. “Players are getting excited about this. They may first hear about it and think it’s going to be dull, but when they get here they know it’s for real,” Mughelli said.

Brad Smith, in just his second year as a wide receiver for the New York Jets, said fellowship with faith-filled players in the league has encouraged him in his own spiritual walk.

“All the earthy things on this earth and this league will pass away,” Smith said, “but our faith never passes away. That’s what we’re celebrating.”

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  • Art Stricklin