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Aaron Johnson: Spare tires & Jesus

The other night, my wife and I joined about 30 million of our closest friends and watched “Monday Night Football.” The Cincinnati Bengals were hosting the Buffalo Bills in a clash between two of the finest teams in the league. The matchup promised to be high scoring and full of aerial attacks from both teams.

With just over half of the first quarter played, a Bills player stopped a Bengals runner, got to his feet then collapsed. Damar Hamlin lie motionless as his team surrounded him and medical help rushed to his fallen body.

The scene is common on the NFL gridiron. A player is injured, medical help rushes out, they carry him off or cart him off, and play resumes.

This was different.

Minutes passed and Hamlin remained motionless. Teammates began to shed tears. Some crumbled to their knees, bowed their heads, and moved lips in unheard prayers. The packed stadium, filled with Bengals and Bills fans and the entire NFL world fell silent.

Officials met with coaches and the game was suspended for a period for the teams to regroup. An ambulance slowly drove off the field gingerly carrying the lifeless body of a man who, merely minutes before was a physical specimen, a model of health.

Ultimately the NFL made the decision to cancel the game. Neither team cared much about
football anymore.

During the drama, announcers grasped for words that could not be found. Desperate to fill air time with content, the directors shifted camera shots from desk to desk to field to any shot that was screen-worthy.

In the midst of the emotion, an announcer said, “Football is important. Then it

I call it: perspective.

For the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, announcers begged for the prayers of all those watching. Cameras zoomed in on massive men in numbered jerseys as they knelt, wept and prayed. Suddenly, calling on God was all that was left.

I think God gets it.

Faith is singularly the most important thing in my life. In fact, faith informs my opinion, philosophy, and world view on every topic. Faith is central to me and my life. Not everyone is like me. And I believe God understands us.


Some people pray almost continually in a variety of ways. Others treat prayer like a spare tire. It stays locked away in the trunk until needed.

I tend to think prayer needs to be practiced long before it is needed.

On Sept.19, 2011, our 22-year-old son fell from a scissor lift from the height of 36 feet, onto a tennis court. In moments like this, prayer is all you have. In that moment the only solace was my prayer life.

Through almost three months of nightmarish surgeries, and rehab at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, our son lived, he walks, and we are grateful. We are grateful for every prayer prayed for us during those dark days of uncertainty.

Even the spare tire prayers.

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