At 10-1, the Philadelphia Eagles are having a great season, but it is how the players are conducting themselves off the field that has them gaining a whole new legion of fans. Led by star second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles locker room has become the picture of faith and charity, despite all the divisiveness currently playing out in the NFL. Last week, the team released a video on its Facebook page chronicling how Christianity has become “the locker room’s binding force” this season, and its impact is palpable.
Watch the video below:
The players have come together on the field, but here's a look at what binds them all off the field.#FlyEaglesFly
Posted by Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday, November 22, 2017
This fall, Faithwire covered the team baptism that took place prior to a game in October and the inspiring story behind the rubber bracelet Wentz has been sporting during games, but it turns out the feel good stories are part of much larger cultural shift within the organization. While one’s journey is faith is often quite personal, the Eagles have made it a family affair. In addition to Wentz, wide receiver Torrey Smith, and safety Chris Maragos are also vocal leaders in the locker room, using their own stories of redemption as a rallying cry for those around them.
“I went to church often growing up, but it wasn’t until I was in my last year of college where I realized I was kind of living off of everyone else’s salvation,” Smith explained. “I wasn’t really finding out things on my own. I wasn’t diving into the Word or exploring that the way I was exploring everything else around me. That’s when I kind of realized I was living the wrong way.”
Maragos found Christ in a similar way, though his conversion occurred in high school.
“I was on this downward spiral because the things I was trying to place in my life to give me satisfaction would last for a little bit and then they’d fade away,” he said. “That was my sophomore year of high school. I was really at a crossroad at that point and had to make a decision on where I was going. That’s when I gave my life to Christ, and he supplied that satisfaction and that joy for me.”
Since most Sundays during the football season are a busy game day, the Eagles have a chapel at their team facility that hosts services and weekly Bible studies for the players and their families. The chapel serves as an “outlet to come together” and “share their faith.”
“Every Monday night we have a couple’s Bible study. We have a Thursday night team Bible study,” Wentz shared. “And Saturday nights, we actually get together the night before the game and just kind of pray and talk through the Word and what guy’s have been reading, what they’re struggling with, and just kind of keep it real with each other. To have that here in an NFL facility like this, it’s really special.”
While it’s all well and good to talk about the Word of God, it is entirely different thing to live it. Maragos, Smith, and Wentz all agreed that they are most proud of the way they and their teammates have pushed each other to grow not just as players but as men.
“I think what we’re always challenging each other with is not to lose sight of the bigger picture,” Wentz said. “Wins, losses, highs, lows, everything that comes with this game, it’s so easy to take your mind and your eyes off the ultimate prize, and that’s living for the Lord.
“As men, you tend to be very sheltered. If I am going through some things, I may not express that to the next man. Only you can expose your weaknesses and the things you want to work on, whether it’s in your relationship or your marriage or your family,” Smith added. “When you’re able to talk about it amongst your brothers, amongst your family, it helps you grow. And when you realize that you can apply Biblical principles to it, it helps us all grow.
Recognizing that evangelization can be divisive, Wentz made it clear that his goal is never to convert people to his faith but rather to create a loving and supportive environment built on respect for all cultures and ways of life.
“I’m gong to be genuine, I’m going to be authentic with believers, non-believers—it doesn’t matter. I am going to love on them. I’m going to treat them all the same. I’m going to respect them,” he said. “At the same time, as the leader of the football team, I am going to lead everybody the same… I think guys are willing to talk when you don’t have this self-righteous attitude… when you have that mutual respect, it just makes it a healthier environment.”
Echoing his quarterback’s sentiments, Maragos said that team unity—both on and off the football field—is the most important thing.
“We want to be united,” he concluded. “We want to support each other… through the difficulties off the field as well as on the field.”