NFL Superstars Experience Trials in a Big Way, But These Setbacks Are a Way to Glorify God
Believers on the Super Bowl-Winning Philadelphia Eagles Tell Their Personal Faith Stories in Joshua Cooley’s New Book ‘The Biggest Win,’ Including Carson Wentz and His Season-Ending Injury
PHILADELPHIA—Who would start as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback for the much-anticipated Thursday night game to kick off the season? Carson Wentz or Nick Foles? It was a wonderment that swirled around Philly sports circles, and when Foles suited up for the win against the Atlanta Falcons, the question was answered.
What would this mean for the rest of the season? Was Foles the new starter? Is Wentz healthy and ready to go? The two friends and followers of Jesus know their futures—both immediate on the football field and eternal in Heaven—are in the hands of Christ.
Author and premier sports writer Joshua Cooley tells the faith stories of six members of the 2017 Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles team in his new book, “The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith.”
Released July 30 by New Growth Press, Cooley interviews Wentz and Foles, along with Zach Ertz, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Trey Burton, who signed with the Chicago Bears in the offseason. Through the ups and downs of football, Cooley shows how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God’s Word, genuine Christian discipleship and sharing their faith.
Specifically in Chapter 9, Cooley writes about the trials of Carson Wentz after his injury during the 2017 season—a season he never got to finish.
In mid-December 2017, the city of Philadelphia thought the Eagles’ playoff hopes were dashed for good when Wentz tore his ACL in a game against the Los Angeles Rams. Wentz had been hot all season, putting up incredible numbers on the field. It all ended in a second.
“Carson Wentz told me that he felt like this was the year—he was going to lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl,” Cooley recalls. “He had worked so hard for that and had been playing so well. And now, like his knee ligaments, the chance of a lifetime had been painfully torn away. The biggest trial of Wentz’s athletic career was staring him directly in the face.
“Few sports trials are more challenging than a season-ending injury, especially when you’re playing at a high level and your team is in the midst of a historic season,” Cooley continues. “No athlete wants to be sidelined when everything is clicking. But trials are certainly not limited to injuries. The hardships athletes face come in many different forms. But Christians can use their trials to glorify God. Biblically defined, trials are difficulties and suffering that are part of a Christian’s lifelong sanctification process. They can be overwhelming emotionally, physically, even spiritually—enveloping your life like a suffocating fog. Our natural human inclination is to avoid them at all costs. But this is impossible—and unbiblical.”
Cooley adds that trials are intrinsic to sports. They can be sudden, yet fairly well-defined, like Carson Wentz’s injury, or a bit mysterious, like a seemingly endless slump. Everyone experiences trials. It’s part of life in a fallen world.
“An eternal existence without suffering is one of the great promises of Scripture, but believers won’t experience this until they are in the presence of the Lord, when ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’ (Revelation 21:4),” Cooley writes. “Until then, trials are as inevitable as water at a swim meet. Trials might feel arbitrary, but they always—always—have a divine purpose behind them. God does not trifle in randomness, chance, luck, fate or coincidence. He is a God of sovereign control (Psalm 135:6) and has a purpose for the difficulties that he graciously—yes, graciously—allows into our lives.”
A percentage of the book sales from “The Biggest Win” goes to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the international sports ministry with a vision to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. View the video trailer for “The Biggest Win” here.
Cooley is also the co-author for Foles’ new book, “Believe It,” which became a New York Times best-seller in its first week. Cooley’s other works include “The One Year Devotions with Jesus,” “Heroes of the Bible Devotional” and “The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids.”
New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered, Bible-based materials that provide churches, families, and individuals with resources for personal and spiritual growth and change. NGP also publishes books, minibooks, small group and Gospel Story for Kids resources that provide churches, families and individuals with gospel-driven publications for all ages.