At first glance, Panthers wide receiver Trent Guy looked like he was sick, or about to be. Coming off the practice field on a hot, late September day, he abruptly stopped just short of the sideline, dropped to one knee and lowered his head. There he stayed, motionless, dreadlocks cascading down around his shoulders. Finally he rose, tucked his helmet under his arm and began walking back towards the stadium.
"Trent, are you OK?"
"Oh yes," said Guy, a member of the Panthers' practice squad.
A patient, calm smile spreading across his face.
"I was just praying."
"What is your ritual?"
"Well, it's something I've been doing ever since I was in high school. I stop every time I go on the field, and every time I leave the field. I pray for the safety of my teammates, our opponents, and for my own safety. I pray to play this game to the best of my ability and to use my talents to their fullest. I pray for my family and friends. I pray for the entire Panthers organization. To be honest with you, I also pray for every person in the world, whether they be good or evil. It doesn't matter. I pray for them all."
"Wouldn't the evil need your prayers even more than the good?"
"I think so. You know, sometimes I wonder what the world would be like, what our lives would be like, if there was no evil."
"Well, for one thing, some people would lose their jobs."
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it. With no evil, all the people who manufacture, market and sell locks, alarms, banks vaults and security systems would have to find something else to do."
"And there would be no need for prisons!"
"That's right. No prisons, no prison guards. Very few fences. Almost no barbed wire. Police and fire departments could run on one-fifth of their current staff. Lawyers, judges, DAs would all be affected. Courthouses could be turned into apartments or libraries. Most legal books could be recycled. Soldiers and submarines, weapons and tanks and missiles…of what use would they be?"
"And don't forget hospitals!" Guy said excitedly. "Emergency room doctors wouldn't be nearly as busy. Man, we wouldn't even need passwords for our computers, would we? That world sounds like a great place. I'm gonna pray for that."
Suddenly, we reached the door to the weight room. The walk back from practice was over and it was time for the 23-year-old and the 51-year-old to return to their respective jobs. But in those few moments, sports had done, yet again, what it does best. It brings different types of people together and reminds us that we are all much more alike than we are dissimilar. If only life could be more like that.
"Trent, you are obviously a thinker and a young man of great depth. Hey, next time you do your field prayer, how about working in a mention of the Carolina Panthers broadcast crew? You know, nothing big, just maybe that we get all the names and numbers right and have a good broadcast."
"Oh, I already do that. Since I pray for the entire organization, you all are included!"
"Thanks. That means a lot. Enjoyed the talk, Trent."
"No doubt. To be continued."