genehornBefore I get “carried away” with this I hope God has a sense of humor.

Bless me, Father!

It’s been often said – I’ve heard it more than once: In Green Bay (and across Wisconsin), football – Packer football, to be precise – is a religion.

Perhaps the two have similar characteristics such as: Belief, confidence, commitment, conviction, devotion, faith, loyalty, trust, worship, zeal.

So, let’s examine the game of football in religious, spiritual and biblical contexts:

Game Day:

Football is an obligation … a ritual … like Saturday eve or Sunday Mass.

Biblically speaking, there’s an Exodus. Like the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to Canaan, all highways lead to the promised land of Green Bay. All local streets lead to a favorite sports bars for big-screen action. All doors at home lead to the living room or den for three hours of fanatical whoopin’ and hollerin’.

The Gathering Place:

  • Cathedral of Green Bay – Lambeau Field
  • Pilgrimage – road games
  • Commandments – 10-yard lines
  • Nave and pews – fans’ seating
  • Narthex – end zone where greeters welcome Lambeau leapers
  • Sacristy – locker room
  • Collection – tickets totaling millions of dollars (our parish churches should be so lucky)

The Players:

  • 12 Apostles – Coach (St. Peter) and his 11 team members
  • Sermon on the Mount – pre-game pep talk
  • Miters – helmets
  • Vestments – players’ uniforms
  • Habits – fans’ decorative costuming
  • Evangelists – Matthew (Flynn, quarterback); Mark (Murphy, president); John (Kuhn, fullback); sorry, no Luke … but there is a team chaplain, Norbertine Fr. Jim Baraniak
  • Aaron – (Rodgers, quarterback), namesake of biblical brother of Moses and Miriam
  • Bishop – (Desmond), linebacker
  • Ecumenism – fans from all denominations

lambeau2High Priests:

  • Pharisees – game officials (who enforce the rules)
  • Chief priest – replay official
  • Scribes – reporters and media personnel

The Game:

  • Procession – kickoff
  • Meditation – huddle
  • Sin – fumble
  • Penance – penalties
  • Charity – interception
  • Genuflection – quarterback takes a knee
  • Excommunication – ejection from game


  • 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit – touchdown and extra point
  • 8 Beatitudes – touchdown and two-point conversion
  • Trinity – three points
  • Benediction – overtime
  • Purgatory – losing
  • Salvation – winning


  • God – NFL commissioner
  • Saints – New Orleans (NFC South)
  • Bishops – owners and general managers
  • Cardinals – Arizona (NFC West)


  • Immortal – Coach Vince Lombardi. His first-year record of 7 wins, 5 losses produces the first winning season in 12 years. His record from 1959-67 was 89-29-4. Some fans believed he was so mystical he could walk on water. But there were never any reported sightings on cool rippling waters of Green Bay.
  • Spiritual – Coach Dan Devine from 1971-74 with a record of 25-27-4 was not so divine.

Oops, I almost forgot two more religion/football similarities:

  • Blessing – making the playoffs
  • Heaven – winning the Super Bowl

(Out and About is a regular feature of Mature Lifestyles that looks at issues of interest to the older adult community. Horn, a retired Catholic Herald reporter, is a member of St. Roman Church, Milwaukee.)