Chaplain busy before games

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Dave Johns doesn't believe winning or losing significantly affects attendance at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' weekly religious gatherings.

"We're probably like teams. It goes in cycles," said Johns, the team chaplain for the past 14 seasons. "Sometimes there's lots of interest, sometimes there isn't. It depends how the team's doing.

"... Sometimes if they're losing then they're looking for something else. And sometimes when they're winning, everybody's happy, so you come to everything. There's no set formula."

Regardless of who does or doesn't attend, Johns conducts a weekly Bible study and a 20-minute chapel session about two and a half hours before each home game.

Athletes in Action, the group that Johns represents, also leads chapel at the visiting team's hotel about five hours before the game, just prior to the pre-game meal.

So the question is: Do players pray for victory?

"I don't pray for wins," said Bombers middle linebacker Barrin Simpson. "My prayer is for the Lord to bless us to play to the best of our abilities. And I feel if we play to the best of our abilities, then we've got a really good chance of winning.

"I just ask the Lord to protect me and my teammates and my opponents when we're out there on that field, and may the best team win."

Brad Banks, who is Winnipeg's third-string quarterback, supplied contradictory information on that topic, however.

"It's more important stuff than just winning, but that's in the prayer, too, of course," said Banks with a smile. "It's about protection, it's about health, it's about strength, about our loved ones, it's about our coaches, our teammates. It's about living."


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