I was moved, more inspired, after reading the latest Team Behind The Team feature on the Ravens stories page highlighting team chaplain Johnny Shelton.
First, I should inform our readership that I, on Wednesday, was accepted to Regent University's Master's of Divinity program. I plan to start in the fall and my mother has zero clue. (Unless she checks our publication from France, she's in for a huge surprise on August 1st.)
I'm excited to tackle this challenging, yet rewarding, vocation. The curriculum takes three years to complete. By the time I graduate, Kelechi Osemele, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Williams and I will have celebrated our 29th birthdays. Woosah. After 156 NFL Sundays go by, I hope to graduate and serve as a chaplain.
Similar to what Shelton does for the Ravens, I too, want to serve as a mentor for athletes, or those in the military, who want to talk with someone about marriage, raising a child, gambling addictions, and other sensitive topics. Interning as the VCU Mens' Basketball team's videographer since 2012, I had silently kept the players, staff and secretary's family in my prayers. In 2013, per The Southeast Missourian, Shelton said, "It was one of those things where I went up there and connected with the (Ravens) general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach (John) Harbaugh," on the decision to move from Blacksburg, Va., to Owing Mills.
Shelton said, "I saw the love they have for God and their faith was really strong. It reminded me a lot of Virginia Tech.
One of the more poignant excerpts from The Team Behind The Team piece portrayed the powerful image of team prayer, taking place in the locker room prior to kickoff on a game day.
The locker room is often a quiet place right before a game.
The occasional fiery speech will sometimes rile up the team, but more often, the room likely is full of players mentally preparing for the task in front of them. Shelton makes his way around the locker room to pray individually with some players and coaches.
Just before for kickoff, the entire team will join hands and Shelton leads them in prayer. It’s the final team activity before taking the field.
This picture stuck out among many other impactful photographs:
Win or lose, the Ravens team chaplain is always giving thanks. When both teams meet in the middle of the football field after a fierce, hard-fought battle, Shelton's leading.
A special thanks to reverend Shelton for this divinely timed inspiration.