Remember the school book fairs? I loved those. Among other popular books, they always featured biographies of athletes, with lots of pictures, and some easy-reading text for kids. Rob Maaddi's Football Faith: 52 NFL Stars Reflect on Their Faith is a more grown-up version of those books. Maaddi features 52 football players (including a couple of coaches), mostly from among the active ranks of the NFL, who write about their faith.
Each player selected a favorite Bible verse and discusses what that verse means to them in a few paragraphs. That is followed by the player's career stats and couple of paragraphs about the player's background, awards, and other interesting facts. And of course we're treated to pictures of the players in action.
Some of the players' reflections are insightful and interesting. Contrary to the usual perception of the NFL pro athlete, humility was a common theme in many of the essays. Many of the players show a genuine sense of gratitude for the opportunity to play the game at the highest level. Some are life-long Christians, some have become Christians more recently.
Some of the players are the ones you would expect to see in a book like this, like Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, and Mike Singletary, all of whom have published books about their faith. (I was disappointed that RG3 didn't make the cut!) Others were more of a surprise to me, like Micheal Vick, who became a Christian while in prison, and Michael Irvin, who became a Christian after he was in the NFL due, in part, to the witness of his friend Deion Sanders (also featured here).
Football Faith is perfect for NFL fans looking for role models who are open about their faith in a sports culture that sometimes seems to foster and celebrate material excess, oversized egos, and immoral debauchery. None of these players or coaches are perfect human beings, but each has something to share that is worth hearing. I will be cheering for these bold believers when I watch them play every Sunday!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!