Some funny things happened this past weekend in the NFL. A fight, a future Coors Light press conference commercial, and probably the most popular thing an athlete has ever done with his twitter account: blame God for causing him to drop the potential game winning catch.
In case you didn’t see it on your local news, Sportscenter or the Drudge Report – just about everyone, and I mean everyone has broken down the Stevie Johnson tweet that he sent out after Sunday’s heart-breaking loss to the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just in case you forgot, or didn’t see what Johnson tweeted… here it is, in its unedited glory:
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
When I first saw this on Sunday night, I relayed the tweet to my wife and we began chatting about it. I don’t recall the exact dialog of our conversation, but I’m sure we were ripping apart the context. 24/7? Never forget? Do you think God really cares about the Bills/Steelers game? And what about Scott Norwood, good thing he didn’t have twitter. But in the two days have passed since then, I’ve changed my tune a bit. Basically it starts with Johnson himself. Consider the following tweets he has sent out:
I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!
And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!
Spoke To Friends Fam Teammates and Most Importantly I Spoke With My Wife. I Honestly Believe Evrything Happens For A Reason! Everything!
I love the honesty!
One thing I love about twitter is sometimes you can see conversations between two high-profile athletes. If you know anything about Kurt Warner, you will know that he is a God-loving, former Super Bowl MVP winning quarterback for the St Louis Rams and also took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl… the ARIZONA CARDINALS! That same Kurt Warner, who has nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills sent the following messages to Stevie Johnson shortly after Johnson’s initial tweet:
@StevieJohnson13 Hey, man, we all have those moments! I had way too many of them… Keep ur head up, U will b on other side next time!
@StevieJohnson13 I asked same thing when released in STL & benched 3 times, But then God did his thing… Be ready! Enjoy watching you play!
How awesome is that? And not long after those tweets…
Almost Missed Your Tweet Mr. Warner. I Just Want to Say Thank You! Meant A Lot! @kurt13warner
Another thing I read that I really thought was respectable was this report from a Peter King Sports Illustrated article regarding Johnson’s willingness to face the media after the game.
I got an interesting explanation of what happened with Johnson postgame Sunday from Scott Berchtold, the Bills media-relation poobah. Here it is: “We figured Stevie would address the media at his locker, but he insisted on doing it at the podium. He assured us that he was OK to address the media at the podium and really wanted to do it there, even though we reminded him that he had the option of addressing them at his locker. The bottom line is that Stevie was really a stand-up guy through it all and it was his idea to go to the podium. He didn’t duck anyone and he answered the questions that were asked of him. He was extremely honest in his comments, as I’m sure you saw, and we just thought he deserved a lot of credit for being a stand-up guy in a situation that was, obviously, very emotional and extremely difficult for him.”
Talk about a guy being real. Isn’t this how the church needs to be? More real, less fake? Whether it’s in life or in football, I think we can learn a lot from this situation.
- It’s ok to question God’s sovereignty. Sometimes it’s ok to say “Why God”. It may be emotional, angry, or a result of total emptiness, and I’m sure we all feel that way at times. Are we naive to think that Joseph didn’t question God when he was sold into slavery, accused of rape, or completely ignored when put in prison? What about Job? We commend Job for “in all this he did not blame God”, but remember he tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground. Real emotion! These men served God whole-heartedly… but they also faced HUGE negative trials in their lives, but God had GREATER things in store for them… as He did for Kurt Warner when He was cut by the Rams, and as He does for Stevie Johnson… and as He does for me… and you!
- Don’t jump to judge someone who expresses their true feelings when dealing with an extremely emotional situation. A similar recent example of this is when Carlos Whitaker, a Christian musician, recently tweeted the phrase “damn monkey bars” followed by “Seanna my 6 year old just broke her wrist. prayers please…” after his daughter apparently had an accident falling off the, uh, monkey bars. Predictably, a few people immediately started criticizing @loswhit for his actions calling him “a prominent leader” and he needs to “watch his language”. Carlos shot back asking why they would judge him, when he was really asking them to pray for his little girl. He later clarified that in the heat of the moment, that was exactly how he felt and he actually tweeted an edited version of what he really said. He was real. Genuine. Sure… not perfect, but also… not fake. You can read more about this story here.
- Be there to lift up someone who is going through a difficult time. As a fellow Christian, I’m so proud of Kurt Warner. He just recently went on Dancing with the Stars and worked his tail off to make it as far as he did. Now, while he’s retired and living a full life spending time with his family, took the time to send Johnson the tweet that quite possibly re-opened his eyes to the reality that God has bigger plans in store for Johnson than beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you see someone going through an emotionally tough time – sometimes all it takes is a simple email, tweet, facebook post, card, or phone call to lift them up and remind that God is still in control. It helps if you’ve experienced a “Why God” moment in your life. If you have… allow God to use that moment to help others that are currently going through a “Why God” moment.
Bottom line… I commend Stevie Johnson for his questionable faith. I don’t know what his normal relationship with God is like, whether or not he really praises God 24/7, but quite honestly, that’s not my problem either. I respect the man for being real, authentic, and transparent. I admire that, and wish that more Christians would be the same way… and that fellow Christians would respond with Christ-like attitudes when people of faith admit their true feeling, their fears and their doubts.
For me though, that’s tough… on both sides. By habit, I’m a hypocrite. At times I can be fake on the outside and I judge those who are real. God help me!