MIAMI, Florida - Football history is on the line this Sunday night in Super Bowl LIV. The San Francisco 49ers are gunning for a record-tying sixth Super Bowl win, and the Kansas City Chiefs are hunting for their first in 50 years. More than 100 million people are expected to tune in to the big game, but members from both teams are playing for an audience of one.
The Chiefs and 49ers have been phenomenal this season, now they're preparing to battle it out on the biggest stage in football. The week leading up to the big game is filled with press conferences, meeting, and of course they have to find time to practice, all while the sports world mourns the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. But players from both teams say they are leaning on their faith to help them keep everything in perspective.
"You know, when we were flying from San Francisco and landed here in Miami, I went on social media and that's the first thing that popped up, was his passing. And it was just so devastating not only to myself but everyone. He was truly a legend," said 49ers running back Raheem Mostert.
"He actually spoke to my team when I was in Philly. And I have a lot of respect for Him. Learned a lot from him. He actually taught us a lot about how to play in the playoffs and I'm still applying some of that stuff here. It's scary and sad, and humbling to remember that we never know how long we have in this life so we'd better make it count," said Chiefs Guard Stefen Wisniewski.
A big part of living a life of purpose is using this platform to share about the joy of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. For Kansas City Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, one of the most electrifying players in the league, he says, his faith in God is the source of his success.
"I think it's allowed me to be who I am. Being comfortable with who I am and showing my personality. Doing what I do every single day, and then knowing that as long I'm doing everything the right way, the way that He'd want me to do it, then I can walk off the field with my head held high and be able to be the man that I'm supposed to be. It's given me a lot of blessing in my life and I'm trying to maximize and glorify Him in everything I do," said Mahomes.
"It keeps you humble. And for us to be able to show our faith in what we do. We did a Bible study and (had) different conversations this year. We're here because He wants us here, at this moment right now," said Kansas City Fullback Anthony Sherman.
Wisniewski has been here before. But when he was cut by the Eagles in late August, he says, he placed his career in God's hands…and He showed up big. Now he's in his 2nd Super Bowl.
"The best place you can be in life is the center of God's will. And the center of God's will for my life was unemployed for 5 weeks. And it was a challenge and He was with me and I leaned on Him during that time and I trusted Him, praised Him. I knew that if He wanted to, He could exalt me again and it was just my job to humble myself before him, and here I am about to start in the Super Bowl. That's all because of God," Wisniewski said.
"My faith in Christ is something that's unwavering. Special teams can come and go and eventually I'm not going to play in Kansas City or in the league. But I'll always be a fan. My faith in Christ is going to take me all the way to the other side of eternity," said Chiefs Punter Dustin Colquitt.
49ers running back Raheem Mostert ran all over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game posting 220 yards and 4 touchdowns. Well, just like his path to the end zone, he says his faith in God helps him weather the bumps and blows of life.
"So I've got a Bible verse on my chest, Psalm 23:4-6, 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For God is with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.' And that right there in and itself explains my life. Everything that I done went through. I done been through the darkness. And I've been able to come out with the light," said Mostert.
"God is the greatest. I tell my wife that all the time that God is the greatest. I tell everybody that God is the greatest. There's no one higher or above Him. You know I'm blessed. I literally, I come from a small country town of Bellville, TX… probably got one stoplight, you know. And I know I didn't do it by myself. I know the Good Lord above, He's definitely blessed me," said 49ers Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
"I think it just gives you a realization of what's important in life. Although this game is really important to me, it's not what's actually important, it's those relationships in life, those relationships with God that are actually important. And if you just focus on that it allows you to play your game, play fast, and play strong, and know that you're not working for man but for something greater. You're working for Him," said 49ers Offensive Lineman Ben Garland.
As the world mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the other lives lost in that helicopter crash, both teams continue to prepare for Sunday. Veteran 49ers Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews is reminded of what matters most in this world… a life of love through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"It's the only thing that I feel like keeps me steady because I know that that's the only thing that's ever gonna matter once it's all over. The verse of the day was actually, 'What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?' So you can collect everything you want in life, but at the end of the day, when life's over, it's gonna go to somebody that's not even you. And so what are you doing with this time? It should be about building other people up. It should be about spending that alone time with God and really growing in your faith because I feel like that's what's gonna matter," Matthews said.
"I feel like me and God have this relationship going on right now that's gonna last till eternity. We already kicking it, so I can't wait till that day I get to see Him in person. It's one of those things that makes playing football that much more fun. It really does take the pressure off everything that I'm doing in my career because I know I already have the victory. Somebody's already told me that I'm great, that I'm beautifully and wonderfully made."