While preparing his pregame message to the Los Angeles Rams before the NFC championship game, team chaplain Kevin Nickerson felt God putting a theme on his heart, so he decided to call an audible. He based his message on Hebrews 12:1-3 and the concept of finishing strong.
Nickerson then watched from the sideline as the Rams scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn a 17-7 deficit into a 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers to reach the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. They’ll face the Bengals on Sunday in Super Bowl LVI.
A former football player himself, who spent seven seasons in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, Nickerson has served as the Rams’ chaplain since the team moved back to Los Angeles in 2016.
He joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast this week to discuss faith within the team this season and returning to the Super Bowl. Nickerson believes the most difficult part of his job right now is building relationships with all of the COVID precautions in place.
“I just haven’t been able to have as much physical interaction with the guys, so getting to know them like I did a few years ago has been a challenge,” he said on the podcast. “But God has been faithful, and I’ve been able to maintain the relationships that I’ve had and also develop new ones.”
Nickerson also joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2019.
The Bible studies Nickerson has been leading this season for coaches and players centered around the theme of relationships. His said his goal was to help members of the organization build healthy and Godly relationships.
For the pregame chapel services, though, Nickerson took a different approach. His messages focused on the Israelites’ time in the wilderness after the parting of the Red Sea.
“We spent our time in the Old Testament talking about the wilderness because we knew that this year would be a challenge,” he said. “The wilderness, for most people, seems like a place that is a bad place. But what we discovered is that the wilderness is a place of development, of getting to know more about God, getting to know more about ourselves and where God wants us to be.”
Nickerson makes himself available to every player on the roster, whether they are a Christian or not. His goal is to love everyone in the organization well and encourage them to have an identity other than football.
“What I try to do is help them understand that what they do on Sundays, what they do throughout the week, does not define them,” he said. “And so, we want them to just trust and just be with God.”
Earlier in the team’s playoff run, Nickerson brought in pastor Bryan Loritts to speak on the freedom that comes with having an identity in Christ.
In addition to his work with the Rams, Nickerson is heavily involved in GameBreakers Academy, an organization dedicated to making “young men ready to build lives that defy expectations.”
“We mentor, we disciple, we provide tutoring, we provide athletic training and we provide opportunities to learn for these young men,” he said.
Nickerson will not have to travel at all for the Super Bowl festivities as the game will be played at SoFi Stadium, the Rams’ home field. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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