Enter the soul of the Green Bay Packers
NFL chaplain touches down about quarterback Aaron Rodgers, public faith and bandwagons
To many Australians, ‘The Green Bay Packers’ sound more like a removalist company than a sporting franchise. But when you tell Aussies that the Green Bay Packers have won the NFL Super Bowl multiple times, they’ll probably take back what they said about removalists.
In terms of monetary value and crowd attendance, the American football team Green Bay Packers are one of the biggest sporting franchises in the world. And for those involved with such a franchise comes incredible fame, especially in America.
There are different levels of fame within each team. Quarterbacks in an NFL team are considered the most important player – ‘the playmaker’ – and are, generally, the most well known. For the Packers that man is Aaron Rodgers. He is highly revered and, according to sports pundits, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation.
Aaron Rodgers revealed his journey as a Christian hasn’t been all that smooth.
At some point during his career, Rodgers hinted at being a Christian. Like many celebrity athletes in the USA, if there’s a hint that they might be ‘one of us’ then… boom! Every lover of Jesus jumps on the bandwagon and starts bragging about how Christian this famous footballer is. This happened with Rodgers.
But recently in a very open interview with ESPN, Rodgers revealed his journey as a Christian hasn’t been all that smooth.
This may come as a surprise to those on the ‘Rodgers is a Christian’ bandwagon
“I think in people’s lives who grew up in some sort of organised religion, there really comes a time when you start to question things more,” Rodgers said. He went on to say he had shifted in his beliefs and shed light on some doubts he’s having. At one point in the interview, he suggested that hell probably doesn’t exist.
While this may come as a surprise to those on the ‘Rodgers is a Christian’ bandwagon, it doesn’t to the man who intimately knows about the Packers players’ journey in faith – team chaplain Troy Murphy.
When he spoke with Eternity recently in Australia, Murphy didn’t go into detail about any specific players. But he made the point that just because the public think that a player is a Christian, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are – or, perhaps, they don’t really know what it means to be a Christian.
“If you just kind of wear the cross or wear this idea that ‘I’m a Christian’ but have no fruit in your life to bear that [out] – or no understanding of what that really means – and there’s no transformative Holy Spirit changing you, well, then it’s simply a tag,” explained Murphy.
“We’ve had several players around the NFL and in our team that have really grown in their faith.” – Troy Murphy
Murphy has seen many players come to the Packers over the last few years who say they are Christians. Sometimes, these players haven’t known what that means and have needed to be helped and guided to become rock solid in their faith.
“There’s usually such a diversity of faith practise that people have, because the NFL draft is from all over the country and reflects the diversity of the United States. So, you can have Baptists, Methodists, Lutheran, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventists; you start thinking of all these different faith streams that are out there and kind of lump themselves into Christian, so it can be a challenge that way … but it’s exciting,” said Murphy.
So for Murphy what really matters isn’t the Christian label but whether any player is openness to learning more about Christianity and also living it out.
“We’ve had several players around the NFL and in our team that have really grown in their faith and have become vibrant members of their local church, are outspoken on their faith, maybe even speaking on behalf of Christ,” revealed Murphy.