In his interview with The Gospel Coalition about his faith, his football career, and Super Bowl XLIX, Seattle Seahawks assistant coach Rocky Seto asked for one editorial favor.
“Could we emphasize that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer and that he is the greatest treasure in the entire universe?” Seto said. “Jesus is better than the Super Bowl.”
Seto made the same comment—that Jesus is better than the Super Bowl—in an interview in December 2013. Less than two months later, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
On February 1, Seto will win it again if the Seahawks beat the New England Patriots. Even if they lose, though, Seto will continue to preach the same sermon, says Mike Sylvester, director of Athletes in Action at the University of Southern California (USC).
“Don’t get me wrong,” Sylvester said. “Rocky is a competitive man. I’ve only seen a handful of other people who’ve worked as hard as Rocky has . . . but if the Seahawks don’t win, Rock would say, ‘To God be the glory. He’s still on the throne, and he’s still the only one who matters,’” because Seto knows his back-to-back Super Bowls berths would never have happened without his Christian faith.
Dreams of USC
Raised a short drive from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Seto dreamed as a teenager of playing football at USC.
But he wasn’t talented enough to make the transition directly from Arcadia High School. His parents, Japanese immigrants, preferred for him to attend a four-year college. Instead Seto enrolled at Mt. San Antonio Community College with the intention of transferring to USC after two more years of hard work.
“My whole identity was tied into playing football at USC,” Seto says. “If I took care of football, everything would be okay. I thought that, even as a boy, meaning I would feel important, have purpose, and have a mission in my life.”
Two years later, Seto ran out the Coliseum tunnel wearing a USC uniform to play Florida State. Everything wasn’t okay, though.
“It was cool. It was really good,” he says, “but I felt something like, ‘Wow, there’s got to be more to it than this.’”
Seto soon heard the gospel from Sylvester and several other Christian teammates, and he realized football wasn’t better than everything.
“The Lord broke me,” Seto explains. “He allowed me to achieve my idol, and he showed me the idol was hollow. . . . From that moment on, I was never the same. Football was really important, but Christ showed me that he’s way more important.”
“[Seto] just had an insatiable hunger,” Sylvester says. “I would just feed him Scripture, and he would eat it up. . . . When Rocky would come up against the hard truth of Scripture where his life was not congruent with it, then Rock didn’t flinch. He’s not a perfect man, but Rock really took and takes Jesus seriously.”
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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition