The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in the 2017 season, but they also used it to model faith in football.
Everyone knows the story by now: Their quarterbacks, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, exemplified humility on the road to gridiron glory, exercising charity on and off the field. Their coach, Doug Pederson, began his post-Super Bowl speech by redirecting praise to God. Their team, as diverse and socially conscious as can be, gave a lot of credit for its resilient title run to a unified bond through Jesus Christ.
Along the way, the Eagles helped one man do the same.
Joshua Cooley is a children’s minister, sports writer and author. Formerly of Sports Spectrum, he co-authored Foles’ “Believe It” memoir, which released in June. And now he’s released his own book, “The Biggest Win,” in preparation for the 2018 season, complete with a foreword by Foles, Wentz and four other Eagles players.
Like “Believe It,” which Cooley pitched to Foles the day of Philadelphia’s championship parade and helped complete in all of six weeks starting in early March, “The Biggest Win” is partly a tribute to the inspiration of the 2017 Eagles and the faith that carried them to the promised land. Unlike “Believe It,” though, it’s also a personal devotional — a testament to Cooley’s mission of sharing Christ through his own words.
“It was really neat to see how the Lord sovereignly unfolded it all,” Cooley told Sports Spectrum. “Nick Foles was kind of my liaison there for the six players that were involved in the book, (but) for me, writing about sports and interviewing athletes is part of what I do. And I want to do that to the glory of God. These aren’t just stories about people making a lot of money or accomplishing great athletic feats for the sake of athletics. I want the focus to be on the One who gave them those gifts.”
Cooley had his hands full helping Foles craft a memoir and then finishing “The Biggest Win,” now available through New Growth Press, all in the matter of a few months. As a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, he also admits that he’d “never written this much about an NFC East rival ever” before.
But the unashamed faith put on display by the Eagles was enough to warrant his interest.
“We love the same Lord, we read the same scriptures,” Cooley said. “I found myself in the Super Bowl — and maybe I shouldn’t admit this — when Trey Burton threw the ‘Philly Special’ to Nick Foles, I was jumping off the couch.”
And so developed “The Biggest Win.” Part sports story. Part Bible study. Part testimony.
“A verse that I keep going back to is 1 Corinthians 10:31 — ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,'” Cooley said. “I use that as a key verse just because sports is included in that. Sports is under that umbrella in what you do. And for me, it’s writing about them.”
Whether it’s used as a devotional guide for school sports teams or reads like another deep dive into the Eagles’ historic season, Cooley thinks “The Biggest Win” can resonate with everyone — even those who aren’t Christian.
“We all want purpose, we all want meaning in life and we all know there’s something greater and deeper than that time card we punch at our job,” he said. “We’re more than our job or our hobby or whatever we invest time in. I think the Eagles’ story of inspiration resonates … and asks if we’re being motivated by glory, is it your own glory or for the glory of something greater?”
Cooley’s new book released this summer and can be purchased in print or digitally:
The Biggest Win combines biblical truths with practical direction on issues that every Christian faces — including dealing with adversity, competition, change, success, failure, and how to thrive by faith in a pressurized world. Encouraging male and female athletes in any sport, The Biggest Win guides them in finding their ultimate identity in Christ, not their athletic achievements, and assures them that their greatest prize is eternal life.
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