Pope Francis receives NFL Hall of Famers

Pope Francis with the NFL Hall of Fame delegation

VATICAN CITY- Pope Francis received a delegation of National Football League (NFL) Hall of Famers, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, where he encouraged them to instil the values of teamwork and fair play learnt on the football field into the broader community, to help build “a culture of encounter,” the Holy See Press Office has reported.

 The Pope opened his speech by joking, “I am an avid follower of ‘football’ but where I come from, the game is played very differently!”

 After a light-hearted beginning, the Pontiff highlighted more serious matters, stressing the obligation professional sportsmen have to be good role models for young people.

 “Our world, and especially our young people, need models, people who show us how the bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies,” said Francis.

 “Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values- in the religious sense, we can say virtues- that have guided your own commitment on the field. Yet these same values are urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community. They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family. How greatly our world needs this culture of encounter!” he added.

 Alongside Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in August, were six other inductees: Curtis Martin, Chris Doleman, Franco Harris, Jim Taylor, Ronnie Lott and Floyd Little.

 Pope Francis had similar message, which he recorded on the eve of this year’s SuperBowl back in February, where he also stressed the importance in creating a “culture of encounter.”