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Peyton Manning On Football’s Importance

By the amount of airtime on multiple networks, the money spent on security, and the attention given its TV commercials, you could have gotten the impression that nothing in all of life is so important as the Super Bowl.

Hey, I watched! The Seahawks were awesome. So I’m not putting down the Super Bowl, football, or sports in general. I just wanted to give you a chance to hear from Peyton Manning on his view of the relative importance of football.

Manning is about as impressive as anybody can be as an NFL superstar. The day before the Super Bowl, he was named the league’s MVP and Offensive Player of the year for 2013. It was his fifth Most Valuable Player award – three more than anybody else who ever played the game.

As to his life priorities, however, here is how Peyton Manning has stated them in various interviews: faith, family, friends, and football – in that order.

Manning has never been a Reggie White or Tim Tebow about his faith. He doesn’t drop to a knee, point to heaven, or bow his head to pray after a dramatic play. “I have no problem with that,” he wrote in Manning. “But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder, and I don’t want to be more of a target for criticism than I already am.”

Manning is a solid but modest Christian man. He doesn’t take himself too seriously or think his gridiron stardom makes him a theologian. Have you seen those self-effacing commercials he makes? Anybody who can poke fun at himself like that has a sense of personal security that makes one admire him.

He speaks with gratitude of his parents taking him to Bible School and church every Sunday growing up. He confessed his faith in Christ as a 13-year-old boy in a New Orleans church. Again, in his own words: “I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since.” He and his wife, Ashley, have two-year-old twin boys. They are teaching them about Jesus Christ.

Does he pray to win football games? “Ah, do I ‘pray for victory?’ No, except as a generic thing,” he says. “I pray [for God] to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability. But I don’t think God really cares about who wins football games, except as winning might influence the character of some person or group.”

Did I say he wasn’t a theologian? His comments about priorities, family, and the relative importance of football to the Almighty make him a far better instructor on such things than some would-be theologians I’ve read.

Now, dealing with the disappointment of a Broncos loss in this past Super Bowl, I have a hunch he will put it in perspective. Won’t think his life has been ruined by a painful loss. Will continue to focus on Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and other good works he and Ashley sponsor. May his tribe increase.

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