The Super Bowl of Christian CommercialsGeorge Shamblin
Gaining the Whole World Gets Costly
Unwittingly, Tom Brady stars in what I believe could be the quintessential Super Bowl commercial for Christianity. During a candid 2005 interview on 60 Minutes, when asked which of the three Super Bowl rings was his favorite, Brady replied, “The next one.” It amazes me how the allusiveness of whatever accomplishment we think will satisfy us remains forever out of reach. Regardless of how big the ring, trophy, bonus, or larger ship we anticipate coming in, none will ever satiate the yearning for meaning in our soul. (see Mark 8:34-37)
Midway through the segment, Brady self-reflects, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something out there greater for me?” Let that soak in for a minute. The game’s most outstanding player appears discontent while standing on the ladder’s top rung. By the interview’s end, here’s what viewers are left with:
Brady: Maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life.” Me. I think, “God, there’s gotta be more than this.”
The interviewer asks the obvious, “What’s the answer?”
To which Brady concludes: “I wish I knew. I wish I knew…”
That conversation took place in 2005. Brady’s since won four more Super Bowl rings for a total of seven. Considering there likely won’t be an eight, I’m curious what his answer might be like today. As for Brennan D’s two-cents on a Youtube message board: “The answer’s God bro. Jesus is all you need, and when you don’t have Him you’re empty.”
Compare and contrast the most iconic name in football, Tom Brady, with a primarily overlooked NFL superstar of lesser acclaim, lesser acclaim by choice you’ll see. Critics claimed Jason Brown’s career never peaked on the field. Off the field, he’s been able to capture what has alluded pro sports figures since the game’s inception; that is life meaning. And along with meaning is purpose.
Losing My Life for the Gospel Gains It
So who is Jason Brown, and what was his path to meaning and purpose? Jason Brown was the highest-paid center in the National Football League, earning $25 million. But in 2012, at 29 and with teams interested in signing him to another contract, he left the NFL—to grow sweet potatoes. “My agent told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.’ And I looked right back at him and said, ‘Nope, I’m not!'” Brown donates his harvest to food banks; in 2014, he gave away over 46,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 10,000 pounds of cucumbers.
Why did he do it? The former NFL star reveals how a big inspiration came from the death of his older brother while serving our country in Afghanistan. “When I turned 27 – the age he was when killed in service – it caused me to reflect deeply and say, what more can I do? I was living a life of entertainment, of materialism, and I was ready to make that leap towards service.” The service Brown chose was to feed those less fortunate than him, which he says came directly from his Christian faith.
ESPN had a hard time reconciling such a move as Brown’s, which led to their article “The Curious Case of Jason Brown.” To me, nothing is weird, strange, or curious about Brown exchanging the entertainment of self for the sacrifice of self. Sounds a lot like Christ when He said, Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. What I find weird, strange, and curious is a culture that convinces us money matters above all else. Or a society that insists self-fulfillment holds the highest worth. Which evidently never pans out. The reason? For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Lk 12:15)
Whichever team wins Super Bowl LVII on February 12th, congratulations! Hoisting the trophy and donning the 2023 Super Bowl ring is a truly remarkable achievement. But like any achievement, whether it be the World Series or Stanley Cup or World Cup, etc., it cannot be the end all and be all to life. Otherwise, players will be left with a lingering dilemma similar to Brady’s, “There’s gotta be more than this.”
As far as what the “gotta be more than this” actually is, here’s how Missionary David Brainerd put it, “I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction, besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing His whole will.” That being true, there’s no more need for anyone to say “I wish I knew. I wish I knew.”