By Melissa Batson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17951960

“Growing up as a Christian, I knew the love and mercy God has for me,” he said. “But when you have your own kids, that love just becomes more wonderful. I’ll do anything for my children.”  Andy Dalton

It’s that time of the year again.

It’s time for many grown men, and a lot of women, to disappear on Monday nights, Thursday nights and all day Sunday. It’s a bizarre phenomenon which takes place each fall and runs a into early February.

It can transform a quiet and subdued person into a raging maniac. It can cause family feuds and holiday arguments.

It’s not politics or religion – but I’m talking about a game –the NFL.

People get very emotional during this time of the year – especially if a fantasy football team goes down the drain.

People can take this issue very seriously. I am aware of that and refrain from making jokes about certain players and teams when sitting around a dinner table. It’s okay to insult the wife and grandmother – but don’t you dare say a negative word about my starting quarterback. If you do, then look out.

I enjoy the football games too, but I have to admit I don’t take them as seriously as I used to several years ago. I was once a faithful follower of the Dallas Cowboys when Roger Staubach played in the glory days of America’s team. Even when they were losing, I clung to faith for the expected thrilling comeback. Most of the time, they did. Players seemed to be more loyal back then, and the game was played differently. The quarterback actually got hit, and defensive backs were not bullfighters like today.

Over the past several years, I have leaned toward rooting for a certain player instead of a team.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton and me in Cincinnati.

I have found myself pulling more and more for the Cincinnati Bengals because I have gotten to know their quarterback, Andy Dalton.

He’s a quiet guy who gets some grief from fans for not being an emotional player. But he gets the job done. More so, I like his character and what he stands for more so than getting to the Super Bowl.

“My marriage is important to me.”  ~Andy Dalton

Andy is a solid Christian player who holds his God, family, and team up in that order. His priorities are in check, and he is playing the game for the right reason. He definitely wants to win, but he also wants to be a positive example to everyone who watches. He has accepted his role as a public figure and demonstrates an honest and humble attitude.

During his first six seasons as the Bengals signal caller, the 2011 second-round draft pick has had an impressive 89.1 passer rating average. He holds at least 18 team franchise records, including the most passing yards in a season (4,293 in 2013) and most passing touchdowns (33 in 2013.) He has also been a Pro-Bowl selection.

He desperately wants to get his first playoff win in his career, but he more so wants to be a wonderful father and husband.

He was one of the first professional athletes I know of to wear the Qalo ring – which is made of silicon rubber. Many athletes don’t’ wear a wedding band for fear of injury among other reasons. Not Andy. He started wearing one a few years ago, and the trend has caught on among players and everyday dads. He doesn’t have to worry about it getting ripped off during a game and getting his finger hurt. I wear one now too, and I don’t fear it being torn off while typing.

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”
Proverbs 18:22

“I want everyone to know I am married on the field and off,” he told me. “My marriage is important to me.”

Now Andy and Jordan have two little boys in the house, and Andy is determined to be a Godly father – like the one he had while he was growing up in Texas. Having sons of his own has deepened his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Growing up as a Christian, I knew the love and mercy God has for me,” he said. “But when you have your own kids, that love just becomes more wonderful. I’ll do anything for my children.”

There are many professional football players who have a solid and wonderful faith. I have just been fortunate enough to have interviewed him a few times and gotten to know him.

I root and cheer for him and would love to see him win the Super Bowl.

But if he does not win the elusive Lombardi Trophy, his role as a quarterback will not be diminished. He has his life in perspective. He gives back to the community and honors his family. He does things right and has the heart of a champion.

That’s why I pull for him. It also helps that he likes chips and queso as a snack – me too.

It’s great to have a team to cheer for during the NFL season. You don’t have to have a squeaky clean arrest-free athlete to make you happy. But at the same time, you don’t have to worry about him getting suspended for eight games for failing a drug test either. He is someone you can depend on for results – both on and off the field.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Romans 12:10

Do you become a different person when a game is on TV? Would you be ashamed of your behavior in a crowd at an NFL game? Do you know the difference in cheering for your team and hurting your witness?

Take a look at your actions, and don’t be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Del Duduit is an award-winning writer, freelancer, blogger and speaker. He lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, where they attend Rubyville Community Church.