From CSJ Reports —
The Philadelphia Eagles have gone through some growing pains on the field during the 2016 season. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has shown signs of greatness and moments of inexperience while first-year head coach Doug Pederson has molded the Eagles into a franchise with some serious upside.
But off the field, Philadelphia has been developing into one of the NFL’s most spiritually active teams. Wentz, for instance, has publicly acknowledged his Christian faith along with other teammates who have created the “AO1” or “Audience of One” movement. And then there’s tight end Trey Burton who, according to The Morning Call serves as the team’s unofficial pastor and has baptized at least five other players this season.
“(A relationship with God is) the most important thing,” Burton said. “It overshadows football tremendously. I mean, football is really not that important compared to our faith and what we believe in. It’s huge.”
Others that attend weekly Bible studies include quarterback Chase Daniel, safety Malcolm Jenkins, linebacker Jordan Hicks, defensive end Brandon Graham, and tight end Zach Ertz. Eagles players have also seen a resurgence of prayer taking place in the locker room, in hotel lobbies, and during practice.
“When I hurt my calf [in the final practice before the season opener], they told me I was done for awhile,” Burton said. “As soon as I heard it, I left and had a couple guys lay their hands on me and pray on me and I was instantly better and good to go. Instantly.”
Another similar incident took place when wide receiver Jordan Mathews injured his knee during training camp.
“[The team] told me once the ligaments started kind of healing up, the bone bruise was what I was going to feel,” he said. “They said I would feel that bone bruise to the bye week. So they put their hands on my knee and prayed for me like, `yo, take the bone bruise away.’ And literally the next day at practice, I didn’t feel that bone bruise anymore and haven’t felt that bone bruise since.”
And although Wentz is still learning how to be an NFL quarterback, his spiritual leadership has helped him grow into that role even more quickly than expected.
“There’s a lot of great guys here that have been huge as far as just uplifting me,” he said. “Just a really good, solid group of guys that’s been really encouraging for me.”
(Photos: Keith Allison; NFL/AP Photos)