The following article, NFL Player Dedicates Game-Sealing Defensive TD to Daughter Who Died in Offseason, Praises God: 'Divine Intervention', was first published on Flag And Cross.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett made the play of the game Sunday when he returned an interception for a touchdown to seal his team’s 27-17 win over the Chicago Bears.
In the ensuing celebration, according to ESPN, Barrett blew a kiss heavenward — a kiss intended for his 2-year-old daughter Arrayah, who died in a drowning accident on April 30.
After the game, Barrett praised God for allowing Sunday’s game-saving drama to unfold the way it did. The ninth-year linebacker knew that God intended that moment for Arrayah.
“I believe so for sure,” Barrett said of God’s hand in Sunday’s events. “And then just talking, talking to God all the time. I just know He don’t give us nothing more than we can handle even though it felt like He did for sure. He said He’s just setting us up for something — can’t say better, because what can be better than having my baby girl here?
“But He’s setting us up for something that we need, and I’m just ready for it and I’m waiting for it. And I’m going to believe in Him and believe in this plan for sure, and I do feel like it was divine intervention to be able to just get that spotlight for my baby girl.”
The game-saving play began with 2:12 remaining and the Buccaneers clinging to a 20-17 lead. The Bears had the ball inside their own 5-yard line.
Chicago quarterback Justin Fields took the shotgun snap. Barrett rushed from the defensive left side but — being a savvy veteran — recognized a developing screen pass.
After peeling off of his rush, Barrett intercepted a short pass intended for Chicago running back Khalil Herbert. Barrett then sealed the game when he fought through several tacklers in a pile and reached the end zone.
Readers can view the dramatic play below:
Shaq Barrett pick-six! Huge play for the @Buccaneers
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
After the play, Barrett had only one person on his mind as looked to the sky.
“I told her, ‘I love you, miss you and wish she was here,'” the linebacker said according to ESPN.
Teammate and fellow linebacker Anthony Nelson recognized the importance of Barrett’s faith.
“He’s a special dude. It’s amazing. He’s stayed strong in his faith. That’s one of the things I admire about him the most,” Nelson said.
While speaking to the press after the game, Barrett explained how God has lifted his entire family.
“So just talking to each other, worship music, church, prayer — all the prayers from everybody that’s been praying for us. We was actually able to feel the power of prayer for sure,” he recalled.
Barrett and his wife Jordanna — along with their surviving children Shaquil, Jr., Aaliyah and Braylon — are expecting a new addition to the family — another baby girl whom they plan to name Allanah.
Nearly five months after the tragedy, Barrett sometimes still feels overwhelmed by the grief. But he also recognizes when prayer helps him move forward, as it did prior to the Buccaneers’ 20-17 Week 1 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
“Last week I was — before the game I was struggling last week — and then — like, struggling real bad. I couldn’t stop crying. Called my wife. Coaches checked in on me. But then out of the blue everything just went away and I was able to focus on the game,” Barrett said.
“I was able to feel the power of prayer,” he added.
Tampa-area sports reporter David Schiele posted a clip of Barrett’s interview to X, formerly Twitter.
“Shaq Barrett has been very open about his faith in the Lord. He’s been even more open about it since the tragic loss of his daughter. He was asked how his faith has helped him through the healing process. Barrett proceeded to take us to church,” Schiele approvingly wrote in an accompanying tweet.
Shaq Barrett has been very open about his faith in the Lord. He’s been even more open about it since the tragic loss of his daughter.
He was asked how his faith has helped him through the healing process. Barrett proceeded to take us to church. pic.twitter.com/Sr9SqOEsNf
— David Schiele WTSP (@Deacon_Schiele) September 17, 2023
Barrett’s faith in the power of prayer marks one notable difference in the respective outlooks of believers and non-believers.
While from a sense of decency they would never openly contradict a grieving father, non-believers nonetheless cannot see God’s hand in such mundane events as a touchdown.
In fact, the non-believer will attribute such events to Barrett’s agility, the quarterback’s poor throw, or the like.
Believers, on the other hand, know just as well as non-believers that speed, motion and other physical factors conform to the laws of nature. In that sense, they are determinative.
But in another sense they tell us nothing.
As legendary Christian writer C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The laws of nature explain everything except the source of events.”
“But this is rather a formidable exception. The laws, in one sense, cover the whole of reality except—well, except that continuous cataract of real events which makes up the actual universe. They explain everything except what we should ordinarily call ‘everything.’ The only thing they omit is—the whole universe,” Lewis added.
May Barrett and his family continue to find comfort in the divine source of all events.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.