Maybe God does care about sports

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some people say God doesn’t care about the outcome of sporting events. Too many other things are going wrong in the world for the Lord to care what happens in a simple game like football, they say.

But sometimes, things occur that make you think, just maybe, God does put a little thought into what happens on the gridiron.

And Friday night was a prime example.

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On the night that Natchez High School retired the No. 59 jersey of former lineman Larry Brown Jr., who died in a car accident on Christmas Day, 2008, the Bulldogs scored exactly 59 points, the final eight coming with one second remaining in the game.

The odds of scoring exactly 59 points in any given game are very low. The odds of scoring 59 points after scoring only six in the first quarter are even lower. And the odds of scoring 59 points on the night you have dedicated to the memory of a player who wore that number is infinitesimal.

So was it just a coincidence? Larry Brown’s mother, Brenda Brown, sure didn’t think so.

“Praise God,” Brown said after the game. “It’s a miracle.”

Natchez quarterback Javon Washington, who scored a touchdown with one second left and then ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs 59 points, didn’t think so either.

“(Larry) helped us get it,” Washington said. “He wanted to see his number up on the board.”

And maybe Brown was helping out the Bulldogs on their final drive. As hardworking and intense a player as he was, he certainly would have been proud of it. With 51 points on the board, Natchez’s backup players drove 54 yards to the 1-yard line with the clock winding down.

Natchez coach Lance Reed called timeout with two seconds left and put his starters back in the game.

‘The deal was, if the backups got us down there, I’d put the first team back in to score,” Reed said. “I think the kids were elated to make that happen.”

It was definitely an emotional moment for everyone. After Natchez scored the touchdown to give them 57 points, every Bulldog player on the sideline was holding up two fingers as Washington ran in the conversion.

“Make sure you talk about that 59,” Natchez lineman Kevochie Pollard said after the game, pointing at the scoreboard. “That 59 is what it’s all about.”

Believe it or not, this is not the first time something like that has happened. In 2001, the University of Texas dedicated its Sept. 8 home game against North Carolina to the memory of Cole Pittman, a linebacker who also lost his life in a car accident and who wore No. 44.

The Longhorns were leading 38-14 when they scored a touchdown with 36 seconds left in the game to give them 44 points. Instead of kicking the extra point, the players decided to take a knee on the conversion attempt and keep their point total at 44, a final tribute to their fallen friend.

After calculating the odds of a team scoring the same number of points as the jersey number of the player they are honoring, now calculate the odds of it happening two different times.

So does God care about football?

Just ask any Natchez High School coach or player, or better yet, ask the parents of Larry Brown Jr. They’ll probably tell you that He does. And they might just be right.