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Faith on Display at Super Bowl 51

Shawn Brown - 700 Club Producer

On Sunday February 5, the Atlanta Falcons will make an attempt to capture their first Super Bowl championship. But in order to do that they have to get past Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, a team most either love or hate. Winning for them would mean would mean their 5th Super Bowl Championship. But whether it’s the 1st or 5th title, a championship is champion and for some that’s all that matters. But I spoke with players from both teams who say, yes, winning matters, but it’s their faith that helps them stay focused on what matters most in their lives.

“Without my faith, I would not be here, man. I was not a guy who was highly recruited at all. It took a lot of self belief and a lot of self doubt that I had to get over to get the belief in myself to come out and do what I do. But I thank God every night for having me in this situation," said Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman anchors the Falcons run game. He says he wouldn’t be here either if it wasn’t for his faith. He’s from Liberty City, one of roughest areas in South Florida, he feels so blessed to be able to play the game he loves on the biggest stage in football.

“Coming from where I come from, there’s so many ups and downs. You know it’s hard to stay focused, but I’m a man of God. And I just believe in Him so much and that’s all I’ve got. He’s been with me my whole life. Even when things were looking real ugly for me, all I had to do was to keep praying on Him, and keep working hard and continue to be focused," said Devonta.

“He’s shown me so much. To remain faithful, just to keep trusting Him and things will work out. And whatever you ask, you got to believe it and He’ll give it to you," said Atlanta Linebacker Vic Beasley Jr.

Wide reciever Taylor Gabriel signed with Falcons this past September after he was cut by Cleveland. Standing 5’8 165 pounds, he says he always leans on his faith to help block all the naysayers and to stay focused on his goal.

“Of course you have negative thoughts because you['re] cut, man. You don’t know what you’re going to do. But that’s one thing about faith, you have to keep your faith in God. Let go of worry, and let go of just the little things that’s kind of bugging you. And just let Him lead you. And I feel like, I did that the right way and now I’m at the Super Bowl," said Taylor.

“He’s everything. He’s the Love that surrounds you, the grace that forgives me when I’ve done wrong. He’s one of those things that picks me up in the morning.  From my lowest of lows, those days where you injured and you're hurt you’ve just got to press on the Lord and have Him be there for you, comfort you like, 'Hold me, just take me because I’m struggling right now and I need you,'" said Falcons Guard Ben Garland.

On Sunday, New England Patriots Quaterback Tom Brady will hold the NFL record for most super bowls played. Many would argue that a lot of the credit for his success should go to his offensive line. Here’s left tackle Nate Solder, who makes a living keeping the QB safe, he says while that’s important football, there’s a lot more to live for than just that.  

“My faith in the Lord is so much bigger than anything we’re doing here. So much bigger than the Super Bowl, so much bigger than the game of football. And it comes as my first priority in life," said Nate.

“I would just say, steady growth. You know what I mean? We are all sinners at the end of the day. But what Jesus did on the Cross is what makes this Christianity great. This relationship between me and Him great. So I continue to grow and just within myself to be a better husband, a better father, a better teammate, a better Christian. And just steadily growing. I’m excited about where I am in my faith," said Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon.

Defensive Back Devin McCourty says his faith has grown also. He gives credit to the camaraderie found in the locker room.  

“My faith has continued to grow between 2014 and now. And you know, I’m just at a different stage of my life... married, just had my first child this of season. So, It’s just all God’s blessing. Being back on this stage again, it’s been a great opportunity. But I think I owe it to a lot of different men we have in the locker room that hold me accountable, hold each other accountable, help each other grow in our faith daily," said Devin.

“In life there’s obstacles, there’s challenges that are put in front of us to test our faith. But at the end of the day those challenges help you grow in you faith. And I’ve had plenty of challenges, but through those challenges, I found my wife, and have 2 beautiful children. So sometimes in the struggle there’s a diamond," said linebacker Rob Ninkovich.

Veteran receiver and team captain, Matthew Slater is the 2017 Bart Starr Man of the Year award recipient, an honor he shares with his father, Hall of Famer Jackie Slater. He says throughout his career the one thing that has mattered most to him is honoring the Lord. As he prepares to play in his 4th super bowl, he recognizes win or lose, that it’s through his relationship with the Lord that all blessings flow.

“You know, God has been good, no question. Not just because of the way the last year has gone, but because of who He is in general. You know I’ll say this about the Bart Starr award. It’s very humbling for my family and I. You know for my dad and I to be able to share this award. We just feel like we’ve been blessed by the game of football. It’s not about living for Matthew Slater. It’s really not even about football. It’s about something much bigger than that. And I feel so humble to have been on the journey that I’ve been on but I realize that this is a temporary journey. So I understand people are at different places faith with especially in 2017 in the world we live in. But I know for me it’s been an anchor," said Matthew.

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