Sports

NFL rookie uses newfound platform to evangelize

Green Bay Packers center pens article on how football strengthened his faith

The start of the NFL’s regular season kicks off on Thursday night with a “Super Bowl Rematch” between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. The game sets the stage for another season of NFL football that has already received much attention on account of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his controversial decision to sit/kneel during the National Anthem.

Kaepernick’s actions show how much influence professional athletes can have on a culture both on and off the field. For good or for ill, NFL players have a platform and it is up to them how well they will use that platform to influence society.

One NFL rookie is quietly using his new position to encourage others in the Christian faith. Green Bay Packers center Jacob Flores recently wrote an article explaining “3 Ways the NFL Taught Me To Deepen My Faith.”

Flores graduated in the spring from Dartmouth College and “started every game over the last three years, spending his sophomore and junior seasons at left tackle and his senior season at center…[and] In 2015, he was a co-recipient of the Alan Hewitt ’34 and Robert Hewitt ’40 Award, presented to the varsity player who best epitomizes athletic performance with academic achievement.”

His athletic ability paved the way for quarterback Dalyn Williams to set new Dartmouth records and Flores was chosen to be a suitable backup for the Green Bay Packers, eventually being tapped to protect the Packers’ most valuable player, Aaron Rodgers.

He graduated with a Religion major and participated in a FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) mission trip over spring break, where, among other service projects, he played American football with children in Ecuador.

Flores writes in his article how the rigor of NFL training camp taught him to “make a plan” and be deliberate about the spiritual life. He explained, “It starts by planning out a way to spend time with Jesus each day. Jesus underscores the importance of the Word of God when He says ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matt 4:4). This verse reminds me to make sure that I’m getting my spiritual nutrition from God’s Word every day. Have a plan to spend time in the Bible and prayer.”

He further adds how football is a sport where players are constantly being knocked down. In the spiritual life, “[sin] will knock each and everyone of us down at some point in our lives. The devil wants us to feel guilty and unworthy when sin knocks us on our backs. As Christians we know that Jesus will always offer His grace and mercy to pick us back up.”

In the end, Flores learned a lot from his training camp experience in the NFL and looks forward to new life lessons as his football career progresses. Whatever happens in the future, Flores is determined to grow deeper in his relationship with Jesus every day and not put it off until tomorrow. His words of wisdom ring true and show the world an excellent way to use a platform to influence others in a positive way.

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Philip Kosloski

Philip Kosloski is a husband and father of five, and staff writer at Aleteia. He also writes for The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), and blogs at the National Catholic Register.