The prestigious Bart Starr Award carries an extra level of significance for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. When he was told by Starr’s widow, Cherry, he was the winner of this year’s award, Wilson started thinking about when he first learned about Starr during his childhood.
“To be able to get that call, it gave me chills because my dad and my grandfather would always talk about the Starr family and what they’ve meant to the world,” Wilson said during the Super Bowl Breakfast online special before officially receiving the award during the in-person event Saturday in Los Angeles. “For me, just to be able to be nominated and to be a part of this, I was excited.”
The breakfast is put on by the sports ministry Athletes in Action every year on the day before the Super Bowl. Its in-person portion returned this year after the event was held virtually in 2021.
Wilson won the award — which is voted on by players — for his outstanding character and work in the community. One example: Before the Seahawks’ Week 17 win over the Detroit Lions, Wilson and his wife, Ciara, announced a $2.7 million donation to Seattle Children’s Hospital through their Why Not You Foundation. The money will help fund treatment to fight pediatric cancer.
Grateful we can make a difference! @Ciara & I are blessed to raise $2.7 MILLION for @SeattleChildrens through our @WhyNotYouFdn🙏🏾 Thank you to our community, @Safeway’s Partnership & all involved in making this a reality for the youth!!! #ImmunoHeroes pic.twitter.com/5HHxt3csjE
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) January 3, 2022
“I think this life is about servitude,” Wilson said during the online event. “I think it’s about [being] grateful, to have an attitude of gratitude, and also to be able to serve, to be able to love. … You’ve got to love big. You’ve got to serve big. You’ve got to forgive big.”
CBS broadcaster James Brown hosted the online special, which focused on the theme of relationships. Former Bart Starr Award winners Jackie Slater, Matthew Slater, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Demario Davis were among those who were featured.
Four different types of relationships were highlighted: the Slaters as father and son, the Mannings as brothers, Demario and Tamela Davis as husband and wife, and Reza Zadeh and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons as chaplain and player.
The online event concluded with a conversation between Brown and Wilson. At the end, Brown asked the nine-time Pro Bowler what encouragement he would give to those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ to begin following Him.
“I want to speak life into anybody who may not know who Jesus is at this moment,” Wilson said. “But He knows you and He loves you, and He’s wildly obsessed with you.”
He went on to explain that God already knows what the future holds and is ready to accept everyone with open arms.
“He’s a God of miracles,” Wilson said. “He’s a God of healing. He’s a God of forgiveness. He’s a God of love. He meets you right where you are and honestly, He’s already ahead of you.”
Congrats to this year’s Bart Starr Award winner, @DangeRussWilson!
The award, voted on by players, goes to a player who exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) February 13, 2022
The in-person breakfast, which is an NFL-sanctioned event, always ends with a Gospel message, typically delivered by a current or former player. Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich was chosen to speak this year and ended his remarks with an invitation to follow Christ.
“As we make that step of faith, what do we do? We confess that we scored zero,” Reich said. “We say, ‘Jesus, You are our Lord and Savior, come into my life,’ and begin an intimate relationship with Him. The first and the primary way to get to know Him is to begin reading the scriptures, reading the gospels, to get to know the life and the person of Christ.”
There we go Coach!!!
Praise God for opportunities like this. https://t.co/PEojJYU2Tj
— Athletes In Action (@AIAusa) February 13, 2022
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