Football and Faith with Rich Gannon

September 9th marked opening day for the National Football League’s 2021-2022 season. The Dallas Cowboys took on the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

In honor of opening day, The Cale Clarke Show welcomed 2002 MVP and 4x Pro Bowl Quarterback Rich Gannon to the show to give his season predictions, NFL analysis, and get some of his personal tips for doing apostolate.

On behalf of his Chicago listeners, Cale first asked Rich about his thoughts on the Bears’ quarterback situation. He said that while many fans and viewers are chomping at the bit for the 1st round pick Justin Fields to be given a chance to start, Bears fans should be patient so that Nagy can ensure he’s ready to take over for current starter, Andy Dalton. However, he did predict that Fields would be starting within the month based on practices, training camp, and preseason performance.

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Rich, who is a devout Catholic, is now a CBS analyst and provides NFL coverage on Sirius XM radio. Cale asked him what the transition was like, going from being a player to an analyst and how his Faith life and apostolate changed. Rich couldn’t stress enough how important his Faith was to him and he felt blessed that it is not something he was asked to sacrifice in his profession, and there were never any excuses he couldn’t live it fully. While he is always called to do gameday coverage on Sundays, he said he never had trouble making it to mass.

“My broadcast partner for the last ten years at CBS, Kevin Harlan, his spotter and statistician, Pat McGrath from Chicago, is one of my dear friends and he’ll text me on Saturday night and say, ‘Rich, I’ll meet you in the lobby at 7am. Mass is at 7:30 and it’s a 15-minute walk.’ So, we know where all the Catholic churches are in every NFL city. And people on our crew know that. There are times where we said, ‘Hey, pickup is at 8. We’re not going to be back from church until 8:15. Can we make it at 8:15, pickup from the hotel to the stadium?’”

Rich emphasized that while practicing Catholics are good at going to Mass on Sunday and spending time reading the Gospel, sometimes we get uncomfortable when it comes to sharing our faith with others and that’s what he’s been trying to overcome during his time in football. This Faith that we are called to live is difficult, but it is not a burden. Rather, it is an opportunity to bring others closer to Christ, to find truth, and to find happiness.

Rich said that one of the most important ways to do apostolate, especially these days, is to pray for the people around you. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. They could be your server at a restaurant, an employee at the airport, or somebody walking past you on the street. You don’t know what somebody else is going through. “I learned a long time ago; don’t tell someone you’re going to pray for them and not do it. I write it down, I put it on my phone, I stop what I’m doing, and I try to follow up. The power of prayer is absolutely incredible. I’ve seen it so many times.”

Before closing, Cale looked to get some predictions from Rich. Boldly, he predicted an exact repeat of last year. In the AFC, he picked the Chiefs to take down Cale’s Bills in the championship, and in the NFC, he predicted the Bucs to knock off the Packers in the championship and go on to take down the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVI. As for the opening game of the NFL season, Rich took the side that many sports analysts did: They predicted that the Bucs would walk all over the Cowboys whose defense was abysmal last year and whose quarterback would be making a return from a serious injury. While the Cowboys did go on to lose the game, it was much closer than most anticipated.

The game ended up in a back-and-forth shootout between the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady and the comeback kid, Dak Prescott who suffered a season-ending ankle fracture last year in week 5. After marching his team down the field to kick the go-ahead field goal with just a minute and a half to go in regulation, Prescott watched in heartbreak as Brady led a flawless two minute-drill down the field and let Ryan Succop kick the game-winner. While the Bucs won it 31-29, Prescott ended up throwing 42 of 58 for 403 yards, 3 touchdowns, and his lone interception came off a dropped pass by CeeDee Lamb. All in all, it was a spectacular start to what hopes to be a great season.

Listen to the whole interview below:

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.