Ravens’ chaplain helps team manage pressures of intense competition

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By Casey Redmond –

Playing a part of the Baltimore Ravens’ success, Johnny Shelton is one of very few team chaplains who is full time.

“Things just come up where people need to talk or they want advice,” Shelton says on a Today News video report. “They come to me with football pressure, family pressure, and relationship issues. Life is hard enough, and at the flip side of that, football is hard enough. So when you put those together, it’s just crazy.”

For the last decade, Shelton has held Bible studies and motivational pep talks for the Baltimore Ravens, whether players, staff or family members. Players are welcome before and during practice to come and pray, and during games he’s on the sidelines cheering on the guys.

Before every practice, Shelton walks the field praying for everybody’s safety. “I would pray for their hearts and minds to be clear, to be able to focus on the task at hand.”

Top athletes, like C-suite executives, dominate. But being at the pinnacle of athletic competition comes with the intense pressure to perform. Out of view of the public, the winners have life coaches, psychologists and pastors to help them cope.

Asst Coach Anthony Weaver appreciates Shelton’s role with the team. “We assume we’re alphas, right? We can solve and we can figure out everything. We’re players and coaches. And it’s not natural to turn to somebody for support and for guidance. He makes it easy.”

Shelton has also stated that he prays for and loves people of other faiths and religions, just as Jesus did.

All NFL teams have chaplains who don’t discriminate based on religion. They receive anyone and everyone of every faith with the love of Jesus, Johnny says.

While the teams battle each other on the gridiron, the chaplains from opposing teams work together. Once a month, they hold a joint zoom call to lift each other up in prayer and lend moral support. They’re on the same team, Team Jesus.

Often, at the end of the game, players from opposing teams – along with their chaplains – line up at the 50-yard line to pray together, giving glory to the Lord, whether they’ve won or lost.

There is always victory found in Jesus.

 

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