Up or down he sticks with his faith
When it comes to the Super Bowl, New York Giants quarterback Kurt Warner has experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. As an unknown quarterback for the St. Louis Rams in 1999, the former grocery stock clerk led the previously hapless team to an improbable Super Bowl victory, throwing the game-winning touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
On the way to garnering NFL and Super Bowl XXXIV MVP honors, he gave the glory to Jesus and boldly declared his faith in the Lord to the media and fans. Two years later, Warner’s success continued as he won another MVP award and led the Rams to another Super Bowl.
But St. Louis lost to New England in a huge upset in Super Bowl XXXVI. Eric Tiansay, a freelance writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel, talked to Warner during this past season about winning and losing football’s ultimate prize.
PE: How did winning the Super Bowl impact your faith?
WARNER: Obviously it strengthened my faith seeing God’s faithfulness. He prepared me for everything that Super Bowl season, with my time in the Arena League and NFL Europe. It was just awesome to see His plan unfold. For Him to give me the opportunity to proclaim His name in the biggest setting of sports, it strengthened my faith. With the team’s success, He gave me the platform to speak up and be strong in my faith.
PE: What did God teach you during that season?
WARNER: The biggest thing He showed me was that I could put my trust in Him. He’s got a great plan for my life. He works things out for my good.
PE: How did losing the Super Bowl affect your faith?
WARNER: It didn’t affect my faith at all. I think at that point in my life, I was able to look at the big picture. All the success I had in football was to glorify God. Was losing the Super Bowl disappointing? Sure. Was I upset and frustrated? Yes, I thought about it a lot. But there was no way I was going to waver in my faith. I’m completely grounded in Him.
PE: What’s one thing that God showed you from losing the Super Bowl?
WARNER: He led me to the story of Elijah, who came on the scene as a nobody. Elijah went through a series of unbelievable spiritual accomplishments, but then he experienced a low point. But God told him to go back to where he came from. Like Elijah, I believe God was telling me, “I’m not finished with you yet.”
PE: Do you think the Rams were a little overconfident before Super Bowl XXXVI against the Patriots?
WARNER: I know we didn’t play as well as we could have. But they beat us hands down. They played better than we did. We could have been a little overconfident. The week before the Super Bowl, the game was given to us by the media. It’s easy to believe that when you hear and see it constantly. I don’t want to take anything away from the Patriots. Were we not prepared enough, overconfident or didn’t play well? All of those are possibilities.
PE: Do you see yourself going to the Super Bowl again?
WARNER: Definitely. No question about it. I feel I can play at the highest level and help my team get to the Super Bowl.
PE: Would you like to remain with the Giants?
WARNER: I would love to. If I could start and play for the New York Giants, that would be great. The likelihood of that happening with Eli Manning as the quarterback of the future, I don’t know. I don’t want to play out the rest of my career on the bench. But I’m just going to have to see what God’s and the Giants’ plans are.
PE: What advice would you give a Christian player who’s playing in his first Super Bowl?
WARNER: That God is going to be the same whether your team is the world champion or not. He’s never changing and He’s in control of your life. I would tell him, “Don’t place your trust in Him just because you made it to the Super Bowl, but trust God for everything.”
For me, one time I won and the next time I lost the Super Bowl, but God was never absent from either situation. Winning and losing was a small aspect. He’s there in the high times and the low times. He’s using every situation to help me to grow in His plans and purposes, and not necessarily mine.
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