I love football season. More specifically, I love the college football season. But the National Football League (NFL)? Not so much. There’s something that happens going from the college game to the pro game. I am not sure if it is the influence and infusion of big money on young men or if it’s just too many big egos that make the professional game less enjoyable in my book. I would really enjoy college football even more if the rivalries of the old Southwest Conference were to magically resume. Football in the Lone Star State is just hard to beat. For now, the Big 12 rivalries will have to do, but a guy can always hope for the fun of mainly intrastate rivalries of days gone by.
Returning to the thought of the pros, there are two Houston Texans football players that have captured the hearts of most Texans and much of the nation, too. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its devastation all along the Texas Coast and inland in Houston and much of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, two NFL players emerged as heroes in the midst of utter hopelessness, loss, trauma, and destruction.
J. J. Watt, the Houston Texans’ 28-year-old, 6’ 5”, 289-pound defensive end, decided he would do something to help his fellow Houstonians in their hour of need. He didn’t set out to be a hero; he simply wanted to help. J. J. began the Houston Flood Relief Fund with a goal to raise $200,000 and he personally contributed $100,000 to get the ball rolling. He posted a link on Twitter with a challenge to see how much could be raised. No one could have imagined the results! At its close, over 209,000 donors had contributed more than $37 million. It started in the heart of one NFL football player who wanted to make a difference. When J. J. Watt took the field for the first Texans’ home game of the season on September 10, you would have thought a conquering hero had arrived in the NRG Stadium. Watt emerged fanatically waiving the Texas state flag, and a stadium full of adoring fans gave him a thunderous welcome. The Texans may have lost the game, but their defensive end won the hearts of many. “If there is one thing that I have taken away from these last few weeks, it is the reassurance of how much good is out there in our world,” he said. “When times are the toughest, humanity stands at its strongest and you have all helped to prove that emphatically.”
Deshaun Watson turned 22 in September and, as a rookie quarterback for the Houston Texans, he is just getting started in his pro career. It was just back in January of 2017 that much of the nation saw Watson and his Clemson Tigers clinch the College Football Playoff National Championship. What a difference nine months can make! This young man from Georgia is now playing NFL quarterback in the nation’s fourth largest city and along comes a storm named Harvey. Much like J.J. Watt, Deshaun also has the heart to help. He took the money from his very first NFL paycheck, split it up into three envelopes, tied a red ribbon around each one, and presented them to three NRG stadium cafeteria workers who were impacted by the Hurricane. Deshaun told them, “For what y’all do for us every day and never complain, I really appreciate y’all. So, I wanted to give my first game check to you all to help y’all out in some type of way.” He concluded by thanking them and stating, “Hopefully, that will help ya’ll get you back on your feet. Anything else y’all need, I’m always here to help.”
What does a hero look like from your perspective? One definition of the word hero states, “Someone who fights for a cause.” Other words like courage, nobility, and strength help us better get a grip on the look of a hero. At Gracewood, Miracle Farm, STARRY, Texas Baptist Children’s Home, and all across the Children At Heart Ministries family, heroes come in all shapes and sizes. It may be a donor who helps us fund the very work we do. It could be a group of prayer warrior ladies who take up our cause in prayer faithfully every month. It may be one of our many house parents who model a healthy family dynamic for the children in our care. The foster family providing care for children from “hard places” looks much like a hero. Many children would say that the families who adopted them, gave them a forever family, and changed the generations to come are real heroes. There are the counselors all across the state who are intervening in the hopelessness, loss, trauma, and destruction of life who are heroes to so many. It could be the Sunday school class that adopts one of our cottages and meets the needs of that home. Family Life Coordinators who work with single mothers and their children helping them get back on their own feet provide the heroics that make a fresh start possible. You see, heroes come in all shapes and sizes. You may be the hero in someone else’s life and you may not even know it. Former President Ronald Reagan is credited with saying, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Who will you be a hero for today?
For me, NFL players have taken on a new perspective. There may be those you see in a new light because you have experienced their care in a different way. I would be remiss not to remind us all of a Savior who did above and beyond anything that we could think or even imagine. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) There is no greater gift given for no deeper need. Loss, trauma, destruction, and hopelessness in life can all be overcome through the work of Christ in our lives. I am thankful for the works of earthly heroes, but I am beyond grateful for the free gift of eternal life found in Jesus Christ alone.