In the theology of the locker room, however, the course of every game and season has been scripted by God to serve his purposes. So it wasn't human error that led Stewart to throw those interceptions. God orchestrated them. "God directs everything," says Griffith. "He already knows the outcome. Kordell didn't go out there to throw those interceptions. The game was already decided before we walked out there. All we can do is go out and play as hard as we can for His glorification, knowing it is for Him."
So how do the losers view not having been favored by God? "It's never his will for us to lose," says 49ers cornerback Darnell Walker, a devout Christian. "He wants us all to prosper." Walker's teammate Daryl Price, a defensive end and an ordained Baptist minister, says simply, "All things work together for the love of God."
James Kok, a former college basketball player who is executive pastor of the care ministry at Robert Schuller's famed Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., says that most player-proselytizers are earnest believers whose religious lives involve "the most simple expression of faith. They take the Bible very literally. They think of God in an almost physical way. He's their friend, their force, their power."
They certainly need Him on the field, given the brutal nature of their game and the unnatural contours of the ball. "The physics of the way a football bounces is just endlessly complicated," says Wood. "It's so complicated, in fact, that it's unpredictable. God does not control that."
Come Super Bowl Sunday, says Kok, the Lord will not be out there throwing or deflecting passes. Nor opening holes in the line. Nor kicking field goals. "The outcome is dependent on human beings, not on God," Kok says. "He'll inspire players to do their best, but the outcome is up to them. They should ask for guidance, wisdom, courage. Hopefully, He will be giving the players what they need to deal with adversity. Ask God to use your talent to the utmost. Be the best person out there. And, no, don't pray to win."