Some Patriots see beyond NFL record book
With the Super Bowl in view, members of the New England Patriots are accustomed to questions about whether they would become the greatest team of all time with a victory on Sunday to cap an undefeated season.
The question has prompted some Patriots to take an even longer view than NFL history.
“Five years from now, nobody is going to remember who won this game and most people won’t even care,” Patriots tight end Ben Watson said as he was surrounded by media members from around the world Tuesday.
“God has given us a perspective as believers that there is more to life than football,” said Watson, whose father is pastor of the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship in Rock Hill, S.C.
“Trying to live in a certain way for the Lord can be hard,” Watson acknowledged on Tuesday’s Media Day in Phoenix. “We are to be in this world, but not of this world. But whatever we do, we do it unto the Lord.”
While each believer on the AFC champion Patriots said they would strive for victory on the field, the Super Bowl spotlight gave them a chance to give glory to God.
“Every day in my life I realize how much more important God is,” running back Kevin Faulk said. “What [Indianapolis] coach [Tony] Dungy showed last year [is] that if you believe in God, you could win His way. When we believe that, a win here would just give us a bigger platform.”
Patriots veteran defensive tackle Richard Seymour didn’t have to tell people how he feels about his faith in Jesus Christ; he displays it every day on his right arm with a large tattoo of his life Bible verse, Philippines 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“I’ve got three Super Bowl rings, but without my faith in Jesus Christ I have nothing,” Seymour said from his on-field booth, surrounded by reporters. Beyond his pro career, he said, “You will always have your spiritual life and it will always be more important than any game.”
Patriots’ fullback Heath Evans grew up in the youth programs at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., which he still attends with his wife and children.
Evans grew up watching every Super Bowl on TV but said he aimed to keep a balanced perspective for his first one as a player.
“Our daily walk should be controlled by Him. That goes for everything we do here and every day,” Evans said.
With the season-long buildup to the Patriots’ perfect season and the chance to become the first 19-0 team in league history, Evans has seen numerous parallels in his daily Bible study.
“You can take your playbook, you can know it a little bit or know it a lot. You can prosper from it or be hurt by it. The Bible really [works] the same way,” Evans said. “The Word says people can be destroyed for their lack of knowledge.
“We should all be seeking a disciplined lifestyle to be working in a Christ-like fashion,” Evans continued. “The same can be said of the athlete with the way you work, the way you eat and the way you sleep.”
With all the talk this season about the Patriots and perfection, Evans said pride can be a major stumbling block for anybody on the team.
“Pride is something every man has to deal with, but pride can cause pain,” he noted, “and I already had enough pain in my life. I don’t need any more.”
Wide receiver Kyle Brady, who has been in the league 13 years with several different teams, talked about the range of team plays, codes and signals.
Brady said he and Watson have developed a simple signal they repeat before every game to know that their faith and their witness will remain strong no matter the circumstance.
“Before the first game this year, I told Ben let’s recite Colossians 3:23 which says, ‘Whatever you do, do unto the Lord.’ That way, our excellence will always be to Him.”
Now before every New England game, the two receivers turn to each another walking down the field tunnel and simply say, “3:23,” to remind them of the ultimate victory.