Players Use Faith to Handle Super Bowl Pressure

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MIAMI, Fl. -- For the first time in nearly 20 years, two No. 1 seeds, the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, will go head-to-head on Sunday for Super Bowl XLIV.

Players from both teams say they have found a way to deal with the tremendous pressure.

In Sun Life stadium, which is formerly the Miami Dolphins' stadium, the Saints will make an attempt to capture their first Super Bowl championship in the franchise's history. But in order to do that they have to get past the highly-seasoned Peyton Manning and the Colts who won their last championship just four seasons ago in this very stadium.

During the regular season, both teams were under pressure to have a perfect season. The Colts ended with 14-2, the Saints 13-3 and with the pressure surrounding Sunday night's game, players from both teams realize there is more to life than winning the Super Bowl.

"This moment, as great as it is, it doesn't define who I am," said Colts center Jeff Saturday. "It doesn't make me. I love to be here. I'm excited to be here, but I really want to use it as a platform. We talked about it before about what this thing really means. To be able to share my faith, what my real life looks like. My identity is in Christ and the way that I live my life hopefully glorifies Him and gives Him the credit and the glory."

Colts head coach Jim Caldwell is in his first season as head coach of the team after serving as an assistant to former head coach Tony Dungy and like his predecessor, he says his faith in Jesus means everything.

"He's my personal Lord and Savior," Caldwell said. "You know without him, there isn't much I could do. And my life is committed to it and I think it's something I'm not afraid to speak about. It gives me my joy and my strength."

"I think having faith in Christ is very important and it helps you in situations where you know things aren't clear," said Colts tight end Dallas Clark. "If you have a bad year, or if you make a mistake, where a lot of times you might have gone the wrong path, just having that comfort that things are happening for a reason definitely helps."

"He's everything. Everyday I just thank God for his many blessings," said Colts defensive end Kenyuta Dawson. "Money's not important at all. Cars and all that stuff is not important. It's your personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

Eric Foster, Colts defensive tackle, says it was tough for him as a kid and it is because of his faith that he's made it this far.

"I know I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my faith," Foster said. "And I really believe that God had a purpose for me, more than football to increase His Kingdom. And also I come from a family, their dysfunctional, marriage wasn't an option or the only option. Having kids out of wedlock was very common. I kind of want to change that generation with my daughter, for her to see me loving her mom the way that I do."

"It means everything to me," said Colts long snapper Justin Snow. "Just living for Him each and everyday. What a blessing. We have a lot of men on this team that do follow Christ. Just to have those accountability partners everyday is the key, its important because there's a lot of evil out there. There's a lot of fame, money and greed and everything that comes with it, and just focus on Him and keep your priorities straight and keeping your faith straight, it's the first thing, it's the only thing."

"If someone was on the fence about having a relationship with Jesus Christ what would you tell them," CBN News asked Richard Howell, assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Colts.

"Get off the fence," Howell replied. "I was on the fence myself for many years and I regret ever being on the fence. Since I've been over, and tasted the goodness, His grace and his mercy, there's nothing better."

Jerraud Powers, Colts rookie defensive back, had a lot of doubters during the 2009 NFL draft. But he says after he asked God for guidance, the Lord led him straight to the Colts and his first Super Bowl.

"Jesus has been a part of this whole process with me, you know, especially in the NFL my first year," Powers said. I prayed about coming out early and a lot of people doubted me, had me not being drafted to being drafted late. Being able to go in the third round, I give all the glory to God just because he led me to this decision to come out and obviously it worked out for the best and He's everything in my life."

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came to New Orleans from the San Diego Chargers just after hurricane Katrina devastated the city and surrounding areas the year before. And he says that his arrival was all apart of God's plan to help rebuild what was lost.

"Its everything. I lean on my faith at all times," Brees said. "Its what carries me through everyday. It has given me the confidence to go forth and to set the goals that we try to accomplish as a team. Just knowing that God put me in a position for a reason, He's given me these talents and these abilities and this opportunity for a reason. And I'm going to go forth and make the most of it and give Him the glory."

"He gives me strength," said Saint's backup quarterback Mark Brunell. "He's who I look to for guidance. And honestly, the best decision I've ever made was the day I decided to become a Christian.

"Jesus means everything," said Saints safety Chris Reis. "It makes me emotional just thinking about it because its who I am. Its what I stand for. I don't care about the money. I don't care about the cars, the clothes. They're all great and God has blessed me beyond belief. It's more than that. I know if I'm stripped of everything, if God says 'okay that's enough, I'm going to strip you bare,' I would say 'Thank you Lord for what I've had so far' and not only that, I'm still who I am. They don't make me who I am. I'm still who I am, the NFL doesn't make me, the clothes don't make me, the cars don't make me. None of that makes me. None of the success. Who I am stays in the Lord."

Saints fullback Heath Evans will not be playing Sunday due to an injury, but he is here to support his team and it is the peace of God that helps him handle not being on the field.

"People ask me a lot about Jesus Christ," Evans said. "Knowing Christ means eternity with peace. "It means a life now that's content. I know a lot of guys with a lot of money. Everything that this world has to offer but their searching for that happiness. They're searching for a peace and a joy. They're searching the ability to put their head on a pillow and go to sleep at night with peace. So Jesus Christ is nothing more than peace and joy that he promises through his word if you're willing to test him out and give him a try."

"There's a victory that every man can have," said Saint offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb. "And that's an eternity and salvation and that comes through Jesus. "So it gives you that solace that you can go out there and you play your heart out and give it all you have. And at end of the day you'll be a winner no matter what."

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Shawn Brown

Shawn Brown

CBN News Sports Reporter

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