NEW ORLEANS (Christian Examiner) – New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson remembers sitting on the sidelines for the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.
A torn ligament kept him from the game—and forced him to think about the really important things in life.
When you're a believer, that is who you are and your essence," Watson said. "What you do with your life is simply what you do. You are a Christian. You are a believer."
That year Watson received a Super Bowl ring following the Patriots' win over the Philadelphia Eagles—despite his injury.
But, fewer than 48 hours before kickoff he was at an annual Super Bowl Gospel celebration with several teammates, focusing on something he said had more "eternal significance" than what would happen on the gridiron, according to bpnews.net.
The oldest of six, Watson, a preacher's kid born in Norfolk, Va., addressed college students at Liberty University Jan. 16 in Lynchburg, Va.
Growing up his parents taught him, "Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly for the Lord, not for man," he said to the assembly.
Those principles followed Watson throughout his high school career in South Carolina and at Duke University where he started out playing college football before transferring to the University of Georgia.
Watson told students about his spiritual walk, his career goals, and his thoughts on racial prejudice in America.
He was the topic of a firestorm of discussion over what The Blaze characterized as a "Brutally Honest Reaction" to the chaos erupting in Ferguson, Mo., after the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case.
At the Liberty Convocation, Watson said of his Nov. 25 Facebook post that he "kind of" hesitated to write it to begin with, but thought it best to "flesh these thoughts out."
During the convocation, he said racism "runs very deep" in this country, but like a "black eye," its something "we try to cover up" instead of dealing with it.
Howeever, the root of the problem, Watson said, is sin. This statement at Liberty was also what he posted online.
"Racism is simply a symptom," Watson told Liberty students. "It is a symptom of a disease, and the disease is sin, and it is a disease that we are all affected with from birth. ... Until we deal with that issue (of sin), we're just putting Band-Aids on bullet wounds."
In his Facebook post, Watson wrote about what he believes is the solution:
"I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through His son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being.
"The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope," Watson wrote.
The post has been shared on Facebook more than 473,000 times, and has been "Liked" more than 863,000 times with thousands of comments.
Montel Williams, a popular actor and talk show host, wrote in response to Watson's Facebook remarks the day after he posted.
"The kind of clarity that can only come from a man of deep faith," Williams wrote. "No one could have said that better. Much respect."