Over the last weeks football news has been dominated by headlines that highlight everything that is wrong with sports. We’ve seen NFL running back Ray Rice hit his wife in the face, and watched the NFL fail miserably to deal with the situation. Next, NFL icon Adrian Peterson was indicted for child abuse after beating his son with a switch excessively. These two stories are enough to make for a horrible month in sports. These storylines have caused me so much disappointment that I have quit watching ESPN, my favorite TV network; because instead of bringing joy they are making me question sports as a whole. Recent news in sports have put a damper on the games we all love and enjoy, but there is a whole lot of good going on in the sports world that is not getting the same front page headlines that domestic violence charges are.
Here are three stories from the NFL that can remind us that even though the recent landscape has been dark there are athletes and teams bringing light into the sports world.
- Devon Still is the type of father who I love to hear about in the news. Still is a defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals. He has a daughter named Leah who was diagnosed with stage four cancer last June. (A photo of Still and Leah is above.) Still has been by his daughters side throughout her struggle, and the Bengals organization have done their part as well. After cutting Devon Still from the team before the season the Bengals decided to add him to their practice squad and give him health coverage so that he could continue to afford his daughters treatment. The Bengals also began selling number 75 Devon Still jerseys. 100% of the proceeds from these jersey sales are going to fund pediatric cancer research. According to Fox Sports as of September 25 the Bengals had sold nearly 10,000 Still jerseys. This story shows everything that is right about sports. A father, a team and a fan base rallying together to help little Leah through her cancer battle. These moments are why I find sports so valuable.
- Chris Kemoeatu and Ma’ake Kemoeatu are brothers who both achieved their dreams of playing in the NFL. Both were lineman; Chris for the Steelers and Ma’ake for the Ravens. Chris was forced to retire from the NFL in 2011 due to kidney pains. He was found to have severe kidney disease, and in need of a transplant. His brother Ma’ake was a perfect match, and when he found out he could help his brother he told the Ravens that he was retiring from football and donating his kidney. Ma’ake’s sacrifice is so admirable, because he walked away from his dream and answered the call to save his brother.
- David Nelson of the New York Jets is another pro football player who is a light in the league. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti David went to the country and fell in love with a group of orphans who were living in poor conditions. David then found a home and converted it into an orphanage complete with hired Haitian house parents. David Nelson and his brother currently support 9 children all of whom they plan to adopt.
The sports world has felt like it was all bad during recent weeks. The headlines were predominantly negative, which made sports themselves appear bad. This is an easy way to feel about life. One or two things go wrong, and the bad begins to pile up and it feels like life is falling apart. This is when we need to be reminded that good things are happening too, and God is always working. Sports have suffered some black eyes in recent weeks, but there are athletes and teams that are doing good. We must be careful to let the bad outweigh the good, because for every Ray Rice there is a Devon Still and for every Adrian Peterson there is a David Nelson.
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