The Football Gods

Last week my wife and I went to the Georgia Dome where we watched the Atlanta Falcons play the New Orleans Saints.

For us, it was a good time together with our favorite team.

Not so for the guy sitting behind us.

Earlier that day, a mafia hitman must have told him something like this.

“Look, Big Vinny said we could let you live but only if the Falcons win.  But don’t worry.  If you cuss real loud throughout the entire game that should be enough to help them pull it out.  Capisce?”

That’s the only explainable scenario I can come up with as to why this guy thought that it would be a good idea to use enough bad language to make Eminem blush.

He cursed loudly and frequently when the Falcons ran instead of passed.

When the Falcons finally ran, guess what?  You got it, more cursing.

He cursed when somebody called a timeout and the public address announcer had the nerve to wait a full three seconds before telling us the details about that timeout.

He cursed towards the end of the game when a Saints player got hurt.

But he saved his best curses for the woman sitting behind him who was dressed like a superhero who really liked the New Orleans Saints.  To be fair, she wasn’t exactly the picture of southern femininity.  Well, unless your picture of southern femininity is a cross between Roseanne Barr and Ice Cube.

Needless to say, tensions were high in the Georgia Dome.

I was glad that I had contraband with me, just in case things got real ugly.

Before we entered the Dome, my wife and I had to stand in a security check line.  As we moved closer to the checkpoint I suddenly remembered that I had my pocket knife.  I didn’t want to lose it so I had to think of something quick.  I took it out of my pocket and put it in my jacket.  When it was my turn to get wanded I took my jacket off and laid it on the table.

“Sir, you don’t have to take off your jacket.”

I nodded like I was new to the language.

When they let us in the Dome I felt like I had beaten the system, like I was a prisoner with a brand new shiv that made it through cell inspections.

Editor’s Note: If any Georgia Dome officials, ATF officials or officers from the Federal Department of Knives and Blogging (FDKB) are reading this, please be aware that this entire story has been fabricated by the committee of highly trained professional writers that make up the staff of  There is no real Jason L. Sanders.

As I was sitting in my seat listening to the chaos behind me I was glad that I at least had my trusty pocket knife.  If I had to defend my wife’s honor, I wouldn’t have to do it empty handed.

Once, after a particularly brutal, curse filled tirade from the man behind us, I apologized to my wife on behalf of the entire male species and football fans everywhere.  I couldn’t quite make out her response.  Something about joy.

I asked her to repeat herself because it’s hard to pick up a woman’s voice amongst 80,000 other voices, one of which is doing it’s best Chris Rock impersonation right behind me.

“It’s just sad because he has no joy.”

This time I heard her but I wasn’t sure if I heard her correctly.

It turns out that I did.

Her point was that this guy was taking something that was intended for fun and allowing it to ruin him.  The Falcons were his god, which explains his attitude during the evening.  Wouldn’t you cuss a lot if what you worshiped couldn’t complete a five yard pass?

This made me feel really bad.  Here I was, proud of my shiv, thinking about whether I should go for the knees or the guts if it all went down while my wife was more concerned with the soul.

I spent the entire game looking at this guy as just another person who was in my way.  To me, he was nothing more than an annoyance.  My wife, however, saw beneath all of that.  With every bomb that this guy dropped she heard a desperate cry to a god who was not listening.  She saw him as a man that was lost in his sins and needed to repent and believe in Jesus Christ – the God who listens.

The Falcons won the game and everyone was happy.  Almost everyone.  The lady dressed like a New Orleans Saints superhero probably wasn’t happy because she left early.

And the cursing Falcons fan sitting behind me wasn’t happy either.

After all of that emotion, even after his team one, he quietly left with a blank look on his face.  My wife was right.

He had no joy.

His god, even in victory, had let him down.

I pray that one day that loud, obnoxious Falcons fan will come to know the fullness of Jesus’ joy (John 15:11).

And I pray that one day this self-righteous pastor will stop looking at other people as obstacles and start seeing them as souls in need of the freedom that only Jesus can offer.