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Eagles fans petition pope to keep QB healthy

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) throws at the Nova Care Center in Philadelphia during the team's training camp, August 6, 2015 (Credit: Icon Sportswire/Michael Bryant)

Since being selected first overall in the 2010 draft, Sam Bradford has struggled greatly to stay on the field. In addition to other injuries, he’s torn his ACL each of the previous two seasons, only playing a total of 7 games over that span. As a result, he has quickly earned the reputation as a gifted but injury prone player who is unlikely to live up to his potential. Yet, despite those flaws, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to trade for him this past March with the hope of finding the kind of consistency from the QB position they’ve been missing in recent years. To reach that goal, the first thing that needs to happen is for Bradford to finally stay healthy.

To that end, Eagles fans have recently started a Change.org petition asking Pope Francis to bless Bradford’s knees when he stops by Philly later this fall. As of Tuesday afternoon, the campaign’s support was unfortunately lagging behind that of other petitions, such as making cancer treatments more affordable and helping to fight climate change. However, it has still received more than 3,200 signatures and Bradford said that his would be one of them. When a reporter told him about the petition, he replied “If I got to meet the Pope, I think that would be pretty cool. If he wanted to bless my knee, then I’m all for it.”

As Pratik Patel, the creator of the petition, wrote, “with one of the most religious representatives in the world visiting our wonderful place we call home, how about we get him to bless Bradford’s knees during his visit to Philly! This town deserves a Super Bowl, and a healthy Bradford is the only way we will have a parade down Broad Street!” Personally, I think the Pope’s time might be better served trying to heal the mind of this clearly delusional Eagle’s fan as well as those who have signed the petition, but that could just be the Cowboys fan in me talking…

While the Pope has other things on his agenda that are of some importance, like speaking to the UN and at a joint session of Congress, perhaps he can still make time to say a quick prayer for the QB’s knees. Unfortunately, even if the pope could clear some time on his busy schedule, there’s also the tiny problem of the Eagles being in New York to play the Jets the weekend he will be visiting Philadelphia. However, such minor details are of little importance when the health of your starting QB is on the line.

The old saying “desperate times call for desperate measures” seems appropriate right about now. But in all seriousness, some part of you has to admire the passion exhibited by those Philly fans. And while I’ve joked quite a bit at their expense thus far, I can’t promise that I wouldn’t sign such a petition to have the pope bless Tony Romo’s back if he were to come to Dallas.

Ultimately, the reason is simply that being a real fan of something requires a level of investment that is far greater than that of a spectator. It’s why people pay crazy sums of money to buy jerseys from their favorite teams. It’s why people spend an inordinate amount of time reading articles and news stories in order to keep up with every little move that your team makes. And it’s why people are willing to sign petitions asking the spiritual leader of more than 1.2 billion people to take time out of his day to bless the knees of a football player.

There are few things in life that can elicit that kind of emotional investment from people. Unfortunately, our relationship with God doesn’t always make the list. It should, and I would imagine most Christians would agree on that. But, at the end of the day, when was the last time you got as excited about God as you did about your favorite team or your favorite player? When was the last time you carved a significant chunk out of your day for the express purpose of spending time with him? And when was the last time you waited with bated breath for the next piece of communication he has for you?

I ask those questions knowing full well that I cannot consistently give the kind of answers that the God who paid the ultimate price for my salvation desires. The thing is, there’s absolutely no excuse for why I can’t. God has removed every obstacle that would keep me from having that kind of relationship with him except for the ones that I place in the way. And the same is true for all of us. The only thing that can keep you from having the kind of life-giving, peace-providing walk with the Lord that he desires is you.

So what obstacles have you placed in the way of a strong, vibrant relationship with your heavenly Father? What is keeping you from drawing close to him today? Whatever it is, go to God and ask for his help in removing it. He won’t do it for you, but he’ll give you every ounce of strength and fortitude necessary to clear the path to him. What are you waiting for?