A Book Bigger Than the Super Bowl (Review)

Cooley, Joshua. The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2018. 176 pages.

On February 4, 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots to win their first-ever Super Bowl championship. In the biggest sporting event, the Philadelphia Eagles came out on top. This upcoming Sunday, September 9, marks the start of a new NFL season. Questions loom about whether the Eagles will repeat as champions or if they will miss the playoffs altogether. The satisfaction of February 4 has already faded. Yet for players like Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks, and Chris Maragos, the glamour of the Super Bowl does not compare to the glory of their Savior. Their purpose is not found in a pigskin but in the person of Jesus Christ. For these football players, there is something bigger than the Super Bowl. This is the story behind sports writer Joshua Cooley’s new book, The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith.

Testimonies and Truth

Through the testimonies of Eagles players (those mentioned above and from the foreword of the book) and the sharing of biblical truth, Joshua Cooley gives the reader a theological foundation of living for the glory of God, finding identity in Christ, training for spiritual growth, committing to a Christian community, handling trials biblically, and placing hope in what will last. Each chapter highlights the pattern of sharing testimonials and truth as each chapter starts with a Bible verse related to the theme’s chapter followed, in most chapters, by a testimonial about a Christian Philadelphia Eagles player.

The writing style of Mr. Cooley captures the sports fanatic’s attention and engages the reader to apply the truth of these testimonials into their own life. He does a superb job balancing the personal stories of these athletes’ Christian faith while offering practical steps for the reader to take to grow in their own Christian faith, at the same time showing how when it comes down to it, these athletes are just like everyday people. The author not only provides the why and what of the biblical truths he shares, but he also draws up how these truths look in real life. Each chapter closes to cement this by giving readers “Questions for Reflection”.

Not Your Typical Sports Book on Faith

The testimonies shared and truths laid out in The Biggest Win make clear this is not your typical sports book on the Christian faith. That is because the Philadelphia Eagles players mentioned in this book are not your typical Christian athletes. Far from using God for their own ends in hopes of taking home the Lombardi trophy, these believers are a group of Christians committed and accountable to each other in Christian community with the ultimate goal to glorify God while finding their identity in Christ and using sports as a vehicle to proclaim the Good News. In fact, a couple of different times in the book, the author goes from sharing these athletes’ stories to sharing the hope of the gospel with the reader.

This book also is not your typical sports book on faith because the sad reality is many sports books that deal with Christian faith do not delve into theological truths, at best, and take Scriptures out of context, at worst. The Biggest Win offers correctives for both. Chapter 5 addresses the false notion that practice makes perfect, pointing the reader to the perfect performance of Christ alone because, for the athlete, practice does not make perfect. As a result, the Christian athlete does not have to place themselves under the constant pressure of perfection but can rest in the perfect performance of Christ. Chapter 7 considers the most misinterpreted verse in sports that players fumble, Philippians 4:13. Highlighting this verse, Cooley takes the opportunity to equip the reader with a few pointers on rightly handling the word of truth. In both chapters 5 and 7, it is not only the author who proposes these correctives. The quarterback duo of Carson Wentz and Nick Foles likewise chime in on handling the Word and their lives in a sound and right way.

A Book for You

The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith is truly a book about something bigger than the Super Bowl. If you are an athlete, Christian or not, who wants your life to count for something more than temporary glory in sports, this is the book for you. If you are a Christian, athlete or not, who wants to hear powerful Christian testimonies and profound biblical truths, this is the book for you. And, of course, if you are a Christian athlete who wants to know how to live out their faith in sports and life, this book is a must-read for you!

I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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