Training camp for NFL football teams has already begun. Hard to believe? Here’s something else you may find hard to believe. Tomorrow, a man will be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame who, in his prime was the highest paid player in the NFL, and he didn’t even touch the ball? He didn’t hike it, hold it, hand it off, pass it, run with it or even kick it. According to a 2003 study of NFL payrolls, the highest paid player at the time, in the NFL, was a man who was paid to do one thing: take down the quarterback. His name? Michael Strahan, and he played defensive end for the New York Giants. His compensation in 2002? $20.6 million dollars in signing bonus and salary. He topped runner-up Donovan McNabb, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, by almost $6 million dollars. Today he is the popular co-host of Live with Kelly and Michael and is also a co-host on Good Morning America.
In a USA TODAY article (6/17/03) with the headline: RUSHING THE QUARTERBACK PAYS, it said teams were shifting their salary cap resources to defense. Gary Wichard, a sports agent whose client list includes a number of sack-the-quarterback-minded players said, “It’s like corralling your prey. You have guys who are quick off the edge and 315-pounders in the middle pushing the pocket. If the quarterback can’t perform, you win. That’s why these guys get paid.”
Did you notice the statement, “If the quarterback can’t perform, you win”? More and more NFL teams have come to understand the strategic impact of focusing on getting to the quarterback and taking him down ahead of any other strategy. Why? Because it’s the most effective way to stop a team. The rise in the number of concussions, injuries to quarterbacks, etc., in the last few years, gives even further evidence to this shift in philosophy among NFL teams.
Interestingly enough, long before there ever was an NFL, the devil was already employing this strategy. Since the very beginning of the church he’s used every resource at his disposal to take out the quarterback in every local church … and he’s still doing it today.
So what can we do? In the NFL, teams know priority #1 has to be to protect the quarterback ... if they want to win. Teams that provide a pocket and block like crazy to protect their quarterback, win. Teams that don’t, lose. It’s that simple. The same is true with the church. If we want to win consistently, we’ve got to protect the quarterback. Because “if the quarterback can’t perform” your church is going to lose.
The first and foremost task of every NFL football player is to protect the quarterback. In the church it should be the same. In the NFL, if a player misses a blocking assignment, the quarterback is going to take a hit and the team is going to suffer a loss. The same is true in the church. Every player on an NFL team is to block on every play. No exceptions. If you’re a member of the team, you block. The only person who doesn’t block is the person running with the ball, who’s depending on the rest of the team to help him get to the goal line.
There’s so much more at stake with the church than there is in an NFL football game. But the strategy is eerily similar. If we want to win, we must protect the quarterback.
As a local church pastor, who’s had his own share of sacks and concussions over the years, I can tell you those of us in full-time leadership ministry need and appreciate all the support and protection we can get. By the way, the best way to protect us is to pray for us and block those who would prey upon us.
One final thought: In football, as well as the local church, when you’re running for the goal line, it sure helps to have the people on your team blocking for you instead of trying to take your block off.
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.