Listening to Ray Lewis, you’d think God was sitting in Heaven on Super Bowl Sunday wearing a Ravens’ hat and No. 52 jersey.
The Baltimore linebacker, who is retiring after leading the Ravens to their second Super Bowl victory, was fond of the phrase “If God is for us, who can be against us?” throughout the week of the Super Bowl. Before and after the game he could be heard saying those words, as if Baltimore was destined to win the championship.
It’s nothing new for athletes to invoke the name of God, and I have no problem with them praying before, during or after games or thanking God for their achievements. When I was in high school, our football team went to church every Friday morning of the season and then we prayed in the locker room before and after each game. Sports and faith often are intertwined and have been for thousands of years.
However, I do think it’s kind of ridiculous for Lewis essentially to proclaim the Ravens as God’s favorite team.
I find it hard to believe that God is sitting in Heaven, plotting which team he wants to win sporting events. And even if God is determining the outcome of games, how did Ray Lewis know that He is for the Ravens?
While I do believe in God and do believe there is a purpose for what happens here on Earth, I also think people have free will and their actions cause things to happen. I don’t think God is scripting every second of our lives, including football games.
Of course Lewis didn’t limit his talk of God to the outcome of the Super Bowl.
When asked by CBS about his involvement during a double-homicide during Super Bowl weekend in 2000, Lewis said: “It’s simple: God has never made a mistake. That’s just who he is, you see. If our system — and this is the sad thing about our system — if our system took the time to really investigate what happened 13 years ago, maybe they would have gotten to the bottom line. But the saddest thing ever is a man looked me in my face and told me, ‘We know you didn’t do this, but you’re going down for it anyway.’ To the family: If you knew, if you really knew the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.”
That response, which was from a taped interview during CBS’ Super Bowl pregame coverage, drew the ire of CBS analyst Boomer Esiason.
“I’m not so sure that I buy the answer,” Esiason said. “It’s a complex legacy that we’re talking about. (Lewis) was involved in a double murder, and I’m not so sure he gave us all the answers that we were looking for. He knows what went on there. And he can obviously come out and say it. But he doesn’t want to say it. He paid off the families.”
Lewis originally was charged with two counts of murder in the case but pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice instead in exchange for testifying against two friends.
I tend to agree with Esiason on that comment from Lewis. He didn’t answer the question and seems to be hiding behind God as if he had no free will in the situation.
Like I said earlier, I believe we have free will. While God might not have made a mistake, it’s possible Lewis made a mistake and God allowed it to happen (I stress, though, that Lewis was not convicted of murder).
As I said earlier, I don’t believe God is plotting every second of our lives. What would be the point of our lives if He did?
We make decisions, and we have to accept the consequences of our decisions.
I don’t think teams win championships because God is pulling for them. Teams win championships because of hard work, dedication and talent. While God can give people the tools to succeed, they need to take actions to make the success actually happen.
We all have free will, which can lead to some great things and some horrible things, based on how we choose to use it.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for the Daily Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com.