(Photo: Reuters / Tim Shaffer)
Professional athletes with a desire to share their faith have in the past been met with harsh criticism, however, they have been offered a platform to give their testimonies with the hugely popular Power to Win DVD, which is being released for the 2012 Super Bowl.
Power to Win is a ministry tool that features testimonies from current and former NFL players who share their love for Christ, according to its website. It is popular among Christian athletes and can be used by outreach programs during halftime of the Super Bowl.
The powerful DVD has led thousands of people to make a commitment to Christ over the past, since 1992 when the first video was produced, according to powertowin.org. It was made to be used in churches, men's ministries, youth groups, college ministries, sports teams and football fans.
Power to Win (PTW) is an opportunity to share the Gospel with both believers and seekers, according to Sports Spectrum. It has attracted over 2 million viewers, has been viewed at over 40,000 outreach parties and resulted in over 50,000 decisions for Christ.
This year’s DVD production features testimonies by Jeff Saturday, London Fletcher, Heath Evans and Hunter Smith. They offer daily inspirations, commentary and perspectives on sports and faith. In PTW, the stars share what Christ has done for them and their lives before and after they found Jesus.
Brett Honeycutt, managing editor for Sports Spectrum, who helps produce PTW, has explained that the resource is in its 20th year of production, and how it first featured Dallas Cowboys' icon,Tom Landry.
In fact, Honeycutt says that there are many athletes who have been featured, including Ladanian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner, Derrick Brooks, Shaun Alexander, Chad Pennington, Carson Palmer, Aneus Williams and Reggie White.
He said the DVD is about trying to highlight athletes’ faith, adding that some athletes want to encourage believers and reach those who are lost.
"Sure people know about Jordy Nelson, Jason Whitten and Mya Moore, but there are more to these people," Honeycutt said. "People want to share their faith and we want to be an avenue for that."
He suggests that there are many athletes who want to speak openly about their faith, but are too timid to do so.
"There are a good number of athletes that want to share their stories of faith," Honeycutt said. "But the secular media doesn't want to hear about that."
Honeycutt says that when athletes try to tell reporters about their religious views, they don't want to talk about it. He thinks that they can be hypocritical at times when judging Christian athletes.
"The secular media calls Christians bigots for their beliefs or disagreeing with certain topics, but they can be called Christian-bigots for not tolerating Christian beliefs," Honeycutt suggests.
He believes athletes could be discouraged to talk about their faith, when they see how Tim Tebow has been treated.
"When you see athletes, like Tebow, getting hammered for their faith, other guys may not want to be bashed like that," Honeycutt said.
Former NFL quarterback, Jake Plummer said he wishes Tebow would shut up about his faith, and current NFL linebacker, Terrell Suggs mocked Tebow, saying he [Suggs] doesn't need God on his sidelines to win.
He claims that athletes may even be subject to ridicule in their own locker rooms.
Honeycutt gives the example of Adrian Gonzalez, first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, who boldly proclaims his Christians faith.
In a 2011 Spectrum Sports report, Gonzalez talked about how he is frustrated with the media's disregard for his faith.
"The biggest challenge about being a Christian baseball player is dealing with the media," he said in the report. It just gets frustrating because when you give the answer to the media from your heart and you say that it's God's gifts that allow you to be where you are...the media doesn't want to hear that."
He claims that the media only wants to hear what you've done and want you to explain why it's all about you.
"You can give them 50 sentences that talk about the Lord and one that doesn't and that one sentence is the one that they are going to write about," he said. "And all of that is frustrating, because as a Christian, you want to give glory and honor to the Lord."
Reggie White may be a rare example of an athlete who was respected on both fronts. Nicknamed, the "Minister of Defense," White dominated during his 15 year career and also became an ordained minister while playing.
He is second all-time in career sacks with 198.5 and is member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame.
"When it comes to Tebow, people question his skills as part of his criticism but no one will question the dominance of someone like Reggie White," Honeycutt said.
Compared to Tebow, who is ridiculed for his skills and faith, White is a rare example an athlete who earned massive respect on and off the field, while loudly proclaiming his faith.