Football theology for Super Bowl Sunday

By Bill Ellis
Special to Inside The Pew

It all started in January 1985 before San Francisco and Miami met for the Super Bowl XIX. A story about what I have called “Football Theology” and define as “bad football and worse theology”, was written by Bob Fallstron, sports editor of the Decatur Herald and Review, Decatur, Ill., on Jan. 23, 1986.

In the years that have followed nearly 100 definitions make up my list of football terms that are given a “church twist.” It has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines throughout the nation and other parts of the world, including “USA Today.”

Here are a few of the definitions that have been used. At a Super Bowl party, it could be fun to make up some of your own and by other party participants. I’d sure like to see the new ones you come up with. It is my hope that some of these will bring a smile to your face and I do hope your team wins.

This year, without Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers, I’ll just watch and enjoy the game with all who attend my party.

Bill Ellis

Here’s my list, smile at least once and enjoy the game.

  • Tackle – when an alert usher does when a child is sneaking out of the service.
  • Fumble – a lousy sermon.
  • Quarterback sneak – Sunday school officers and teachers entering the building five minutes after Sunday School begins.
  • Quarterback – what church members, who believe religion is free, want after putting 50 cent in the offering.
  • In the pocket – where too many church members keep God’s tithe and their offerings.
  • End around – diaper changing time in the nursery.
  • Illegal Motion – leaving before the benediction.
  • Interference – whispering and talking during the sermon.
  • Penalty – what the church gets when its members stay home.
  • Punt – what the pastor does when nothing else seems to work.
  • National Anthem – the choir and congregation doing their best singing “Amazing Grace.”

Thanks for sending to me some of the super definitions you come up with. Have a super day in your church and every day all week long. St. Paul knew a lot about sports, not football, but running and passed these words to all in the game. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (spectators), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith … ” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The chapter continues to talk about the discipline and vitality that every athlete needs.

The Bible has a great deal to say about sports, bodybuilding, strength, control and all that enables us to always be at our best. Read it and be amazed by what you discover and learn.


Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.


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