Trey Burton of the Philadelphia Eagles remembers when his life changed dramatically.
He was a junior playing for the University of Florida. Though he was raised in a Christian home and made a profession of faith as a child, his devotion to the Lord had been sporadic.
That inconsistency stopped when he walked into his girlfriend’s apartment one day. She handed him a pregnancy test – a positive pregnancy test. The reality of becoming a father and his moral failure was a wake-up call for Burton.
“From that point on, we made sure that we were serving the Lord,” he told Baptist Press Jan. 29 during the Super Bowl LII Opening Night event at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
BP photo by Tim Ellsworth
“My faith is really the only reason why I’m able to be here,” the Eagles’ Trey Burton told Baptist Press Jan. 29 during the Super Bowl LII Opening Night event at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
A tight end about to make his first Super Bowl appearance, Burton has emerged as one of the team’s spiritual leaders on a squad filled with faithful Christians. In 2016, Burton actually baptized some of his teammates in a tub at the team’s training facility.
Earlier this year, Burton also was present at the baptism of teammate Marcus Johnson in a hotel swimming pool.
“He’s definitely moving,” Burton said about God’s work with the Eagles. “You never know until it’s done what He’s really doing, but there’s a big need for Him. There’s a huge need for Him everywhere. We’re just trying to be obedient and use our platform to the best of our ability.”
Philadelphia quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles are unashamedly outspoken about their faith, as are others on the team. Burton said the Philadelphia media has discovered that stories about the spiritual side of the team are some of the most popular stories they produce, so that has led to more such stories documenting the Bible studies and Christian brotherhood that characterize the team’s players.
Burton is a strong supporter of International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization devoted to the worldwide eradication of slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence and other human rights abuses. He participated in an IJM promotion auctioning two Super Bowl tickets, with proceeds benefiting the organization.
For Burton, that’s just one example of how his Christian faith affects how he lives.
“Every decision you make is based on your faith,” Burton said. “My faith is really the only reason why I’m able to be here. I definitely wouldn’t be here without the Lord and the talents and abilities He’s given me. We have a really special team – a bunch of guys who are faithful and just say ‘yeah’ to what God’s calling them to do.”
That camaraderie has been a blessing to Burton and helped him grow in his walk with the Lord.
“You always want to think that you would be strong for the Lord regardless of where you are,” he said. “In reality, it’s tough, especially if you’re one of the only guys who is a believer.”
But on a team like the Eagles, Burton has found it easier to be bold and proactive, taking advantage of the opportunities he gets – like playing in the Super Bowl – to talk about the work that Christ has done in his life.
“When you have a bunch of leaders on the team who are spiritual leaders as well, it will only bring you closer, and that’s what it’s done so far,” Burton said. “We all have one thing in common. It’s not to win a Super Bowl, it’s not to be the best player in the NFL. It’s to bring God glory, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is a Baptist Press sports correspondent and associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)