January 25, 2016,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

I have to confess it. I love football. When a major college or professional football game is on television, I am engaged. With the NFL all the commercials around kickoffs and two minute warnings are tiresome. I dislike the time spent on replays and challenges to referee decisions. Still this game is made for television, and I am addicted to it.

Football is the ultimate team game. The National Football League has its prima donnas, but no one accomplishes much without the support of others. Even the greatest quarterback has to have a receiver to complete a pass. The players must work together, or they will fail. There are incredible moments of both mental and physical brilliance. I am amazed at what players can accomplish with split second timing.

Football, especially the NFL, is the closest thing we have to gladiator contests. It is a game where the best conditioned athlete can be injured. It might be a freak play or the violent hit of another player. It may be within the rules or outside them, but the injury rate is high—much more that any other sport. It is disturbing to see retired players who still suffer from injuries incurred years ago. From arthritis, to lack of mobility, to memory loss, the game has harmed former players. In short, football is not conducive to living a long, healthy life.

The colleges and the NFL have tried to implement rules to make the game more safe. How far can this go where in the name of safety, football isn’t football any more? I have come to the conclusion that football and safety are nearly incompatible. This puts me in a dilemma. I still love the game, but with every violent hit I now think about how this act has harmed a player. All this causes me to wonder about the future of football and what God thinks of our endless capacity to admire the game’s grace in the midst of concussions and broken bones. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,