Saints ready for Super Bowl platform
MIAMI (BP)--New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Mark Brunell has been in the NFL long enough to see plenty of highs, such as three Pro Bowl appearances as a starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And the 16-year NFL veteran has had his share of lows, in being benched and cut at Jacksonville and then Washington.
But Brunell never lost his faith in Jesus Christ's plan for his life, and now he has earned a new title, Super Bowl champion.
While his New Orleans teammates skipped around the locker room in celebration of their 31-17 upset win over the Indianapolis Colts, Brunell sat back at his locker to ponder God's blessings.
"It's amazing how God used me in this team with a great group of believers," Brunell said. "It's been a long time with so many ups and downs, but I'm so glad God let me be a part of this."
While Brunell came to New Orleans to back up fellow Christian Drew Brees, he said his new title as NFL champion would be a platform to glorify God in the future.
"You are a Super Bowl champion forever. Regardless of if we won or lost, I know God has blessed me so much."
Brees, named the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV for throwing two touchdown passes and setting a new accuracy record of 32-for-39 for 288 yards, called the victory God's blessing.
"What can I say? We've been blessed with so much, it's unbelievable," Brees said.
Cast off from San Diego in 2006 after an injury, Brees said his arrival in New Orleans and now his Super Bowl victory were part of God's plan for his life, even if he couldn't see it at the time.
"I feel like coming to New Orleans was sort of God putting you in a position for a reason. At the time, you may ask yourself, 'You know, I'm not sure, but I trust You.'
"I know this: Coming to New Orleans and having that opportunity, there is a calling."
While some of his Saints teammates were talking about partying on South Beach in Miami late Sunday night, Brunell scrolled through his phone to look at messages of support from his church, Southpoint Community Church in Jacksonville.
"I had so many people praying for me."
Heath Evans stood on the Saints sidelines during the victory due to a season-ending knee injury earlier in the year. But the fullback said he will be happy for an enlarged platform to share his faith.
"To be world champions, you have to give God the glory for this," said Heath, a member of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Evans suffered a huge disappointment when his former team, the New England Patriots, came into the Super Bowl as a heavy favorite in 2008, only to lose to the New York Giants in the last seconds.
This year, it was the Saints who garnered a victory with 15 fourth-quarter points.
"It's His timing not mine," Evans smiled. Even if he finds himself on the sidelines again, he added "hopefully this is the first of many for us."
David Thomas, a Christian leader for the University of Texas Longhorns when they won the 2005 national championship, said the Saints victory will provide an even greater platform, "because for the rest of my life I will be a Super Bowl champion. And for the Lord to bring me here for this reason is just amazing."
"We have a lot of great character guys, a lot of strong Christian guys and maybe God brought us here for this purpose," Thomas said.
At Tuesday's media day, Saints All-Pro right tackle Jon Stinchcomb called his Christian faith a platform with a purpose.
In Sunday night's crowded and rowdy locker room, Stinchcomb began to take advantage of his new status, saying, "We give all glory to Him."
Art Stricklin is a sports correspondent for Baptist Press.