(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
Randall Balmer, our BlogTalkRadio guest last night, is rooting for the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Not because he is a Rams fan, but because he is a Matthew Stafford fan. That sentiment is apparently echoed by a lot of fans in the Detroit, Michigan area — a long way from Los Angeles.
For 12 years, Matthew Stafford was the star quarterback on a losing team. In 12 seasons he was able to help the woebegone Lions get to the playoffs three times but each time they lost in the first round. Nevertheless, he played his heart out there and was the one reason why, as one loyal Detroit fan put it, “We’ve got Stafford. We always have a chance in every game.”
Usually, when a star player leaves a poor team for a better one, the fans never forgive him. But this is not the case in Detroit. Sure, there are some hard feelings, but most fans are glad that he has the opportunity to play on a bigger stage — that he finally has a good team behind him to show off his skills. A quarterback is important, but he can’t carry the whole team. Proof of that is Stafford’s playoff record: 0-3 with the Lions; 3-0 with the Rams.
A lot of Detroit area loyalty to Stafford is because of what he gave both on and off the field there. He and his wife have donated over two million dollars to that town, mostly for underprivileged kids to have a field and sports complex to develop their skills. And the two of them have devoted their time as well. They will stop by the complex and Matthew will teach football skills and play basketball with the kids while his wife, Kelly, teaches cheerleading. No wonder he is loved here.
So Randall Balmer will be rooting for Matthew Stafford in the Super Bowl because in the 1960s he lived in Bay City, Michigan and became a Lions fan and has stuck with it. Something about these Detroit fans that makes them loyal like no other.
Our interview with Randall is timely in that he has just finished a new book, Passion Plays: How Religion Shaped Sports in North America. With the Super Bowl coming up, it’s a timely discussion of a Christian perspective on sports in general. Click here and listen to a half-hour discussion that will help you think Christianly about football. Just in time for this weekend.
For most people, this classic Super Bowl contest is between the Rams and the Bengals. But for a lot of Detroit fans, it’s a contest between the Bengals and Matthew Stafford. May the best man win.