Summer 2024

Retired NFL tight end Benjamin Watson supports rebuild of 3 Louisiana churches

Former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson retired this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking it easy. He’s doing his part to help rebuild three Louisiana churches that were set on fire during a 10-day span in the last month.

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No one was injured, although each church was more than 100 years old and had predominantly African-American congregations. Authorities have arrested 21-year-old Holden Matthews in connection with the fires.

The destruction struck a chord with Watson, who played four of his 15 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, including last year. He has urged his Twitter followers to consider donating to the rebuilding efforts:

“In speaking with these pastors I am in awe and inspired by their faith and courage, comforting their congregations and family members,” Watson said in a text message to the New Orleans Advocate. “Through sadness and shock they spoke of forgiveness for the arsonist and grace for tomorrow. Most importantly, they spoke of being overwhelmed by support from people of goodwill and all religions from around the country. And they were humbled by what God has already done through this series of events.”

In a separate tweet, Watson wrote about the importance of believers bearing each others’ burdens:

For years, Watson has been vocal about his Christian faith, especially in connection to social issues. He has also twice been a finalist for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, given annually to players who demonstrate excellence in their communities as well as on the field.

“God doesn’t call us to live out a faith in secret,” Watson wrote for The Increase last year. “We’re called to live out a public faith, letting people see that while we are imperfect, we are following our God with a heart fully devoted to Him.”

Watson was drafted by the New England Patriots out of the University of Georgia in 2004, accumulating 530 career receptions, 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns. Watson also earned a Super Bowl ring for the Patriots’ 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, although he did not play due to injury.

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