JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Links to places of worship are on the Web site of the Super Bowl Host Committee. Religious literature is being passed on streets to football fans. Several NFL players, instead of partying with Playboy bunnies and hitting nightclubs, are professing their faith at churches.
In a town often said to be the buckle on the Bible belt, churches are taking unprecedented opportunities to get the gospel out to the 100,000 people who are in Jacksonville for Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Just a year after Janet Jackson shocked the world with her halftime wardrobe malfunction, religion has moved into locker rooms and the NFL is giving its blessing to faith-based celebrations, such as concerts featuring Patti LaBelle and other events organized by various ministries.
"You are in town for the Super Bowl," Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El told the crowd at Friday night’s Super Bowl Gospel Celebration concert, "but you are here because of God."
The marriage of football and faith is creating a religious fervor unmatched in the River City since a four-day Billy Graham Crusade stop brought a quarter-million people to Alltel Stadium, site of this Super Bowl.
And while football’s biggest weekend is about the scene for some players, it’s about the spirit for others.
"Football gives me a platform," said Patriots tight end Ben Watson, who played in one game this season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign. "There are people who would listen to me because I play the game of football. It gives me an incredible platform to influence people good or bad."
Added Oakland Raiders tight end Roland Williams: "Football is just something I do. I am definitely focused on a personal relationship with God."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the Jacksonville Host Committee proposed faith-based activities "to reflect the spirit of the community" and noted it is the most religiously oriented Super Bowl venue ever.
The Host Committee’s Web page lists the church services and addresses for hundreds of area churches, many of which have built events around the big game. The NFL, however, has been strict in deciding which activities to endorse. [Source]
I had to go to an alternate location for Mass today since the church I normally go to is downtown and I definitely did not want to mess with the difficulties of parking downtown today. They have Park and Ride to get to the stadium but not to the church. Seems ironic since it is suppose to be Mass transit. The church I went to normally has solid homilies and the music is a mix of both traditional hymns and OCP standard fair. The only real caveat to going to Mass there is suffering through the asking about people’s birthdays, anniversaries and those who are from out of town. At the end of this he asked for those who had tickets and were attending the Super Bowl to stand up and about ten people did so. He then said that anybody who gave him a ticket would go to heaven, and if not – well you know.
Here was a suggestion I had after last years Super Bowl for Janet Jackson’s malfunction-free wardrobe.