Ethics Dunce: Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Steve Johnson

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass in Sunday’s game against the Steelers, who eventually won. Rather than accepting responsibility and accountability for his failure, Johnson took to Twitter to blame…God.

His tweet shouted in indignation…


I suppose in an athletic culture where athletes routinely thank God for touchdowns, winning baskets and home runs, as if a Supreme Being would have nothing better to do than  rig professional sports contests, it was inevitable that the reverse would come into fashion: blaming God for fumbles, air balls and strike outs. Johnson’s tweet is a classic example of how religion, in the hands of the egotistical and dim,  can undermine ethics by convincing some people that doing the right thing is just part of a contractual transaction in which God looks out for them as long as they play by His rules. Thus God’s breached  contractual obligations take the place of any personal sense of accountability for one’s failures and mistakes. Johnson met his end of the bargain, after all, and a capricious God made him drop the pass anyway. No wonder he’s ticked off!

What does God expect Johnson to learn? My guess would be that Johnson should learn that nobody, including Supreme Beings, is responsible for his on-field and of-field conduct but him, and that he needs to be accountable for his own actions. As a bonus, he might also learn that sending a Twitter post to God makes him look like an idiot, since it is highly unlikely that God needs to use social networking media. It also marks him as a whiny coward, since Johnson’s tweet is more likely to be a desperate attempt to duck the wrath of Buffalo fans by pointing the finger at the someone else, someone, in this case, being the Thunderer himself, while trying to impress everybody by revealing that he says his prayers like a good little wide receiver.

You lost the game, Steve, by dropping the pass. You lost our respect by blaming God for it.


15 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Steve Johnson

  1. Any God who cares about a touchdown or a home run while millions starve and wars rage is either a sadist or a comedian.

    I have nothing more to say about Steve Johnson or any of his ilk, who are either too stupid or too acquisitive or too egotistic to even begin to understand any universal concept of God. Morons all: “I pray to you, I give to my church, and you let me down?”

    God as an insurance policy is not a new idea, but has been proven time and again to be a bad investment.

  2. On the other hand, if he’d had a classical religious education, he could have sacrificed to Hermes in the first place, caught the pass, and then Twittered his praise to the god. … but then that would have resulted in the same thing: his success would have to be considered an act of divine intervention rather than one of his own mortal skill — which would make it an unethical win. And everyone who read the praise would be able to twit him about it.

  3. It occurs to me that Steven Johnson and Elizabeth are alike in that they have no concept at all about who God is and what their relationship to him should entail.

    As for Johnson’s laments… well, it could have been worse. Sean Young in “Ace Ventura” springs to mind!

  4. This makes me sick that he would say something like this. He is already blessed to be in the NFL. There are so many people whot wish they could get to play, but their dreams get cut short because of injuries or plans change or other circumstances that prevent them from getting that shot .I say, don’t blame God, blame yourself. You dropped the ball; get over it. It’s not the first time it ever happened. Also, it’s not not like it was the Superbowl; they are not even making it to the playoffs.
    Learn from your mistakes: maybe God’s trying to make you a better player. Ever think of it that way? Probably not.

    • Surely you aren’t suggesting that if it was a Super Bowl game, Johnson COULD blame God? The idea that God is micro-managing everything that we do simply reduces personal accountability to the vanishing point, while giving the fortunate and successful the mistaken ego boost of believing that their inherent virtue has been confirmed, because God intervened on their behalf. The mindset is destructive to religion, morality, ethics and common sense. I’m with Elizabeth on this: a god who has to meddle in football games is too capricious and trivial to trust. And it’s too much to expect Him to be a Buffalo fan.

  5. It aggravates me when people ascribe their good fortune or ill fortune to God. In the Old or New Testament, there is no real basis for it. Those favored by God suffer thirst, enslavement, and death in those pages. I don’t think people think of the flip side of their logic very often. I cringe in church when someone ascribes their promotion at work to God’s blessing because I know someone sitting in the congregation was just diagnosed with cancer or suffered the untimely death of a loved one.

  6. True Story:

    On my wedding day it was an exceptionally beautiful day outside. During the ceremony, the priest remarked about how the weather was a sign of God’s blessing on the marriage. My first thought upon hearing that: “That can’t be right. Is rain on your wedding day a sign that God thinks you shouldn’t be doing this?”

    Jack Marshall, I have YOU to thank (blame?) for that thought.


  7. Dear Dwayne: Did you ever consider that your priest might merely have been trying to set a happy tone for what is considered by many to be the biggest event in a person’s life? If it had been raining all day, he’d have probably pointed out the rainbow and made a few remarks about its symbolism (since the time of Noah) of God’s Covenant with Man. The idea is to impress people with the holiness of marriage and why it should be regarded as such to make it prosper. It’s no guarantee that it will. That’s up to the couple. Their faith in God is their rock against the worldly forces that will seek to drive them apart.

    • Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem that he said what he said.

      It’s just that this topic about how one should not blame God for one’s own failings reminded me of a particular time in my life when I thought seriously, if only for a moment, about whether it was right to blame God for rain on your wedding day or take it as a sign of His disapproval.

      At the time, I found myself amused by the fact that *that’s* the direction my mind automatically went. And like I said, thinking about Ethics on my wedding day? All Jack’s fault. 🙂


  8. Jack has a lot to answer for, Dwayne! LOL. I see your point. Actually, I agree with Jack in that people should not take this or that as a sign of God’s approval or condemnation. God is for all of us, all the time. It’s up to us to be for Him in return… all the time. Especially when events go bad for us. That’s when we’re called upon to prove our faith and good character and, in the process, emerge the better for it. That’s MY take on it, anyway. So… God bless you!

  9. He better ask God for forgiveness for the statement he made. You should be thankful for the good times and bad. He is blessed to be in the NFL.
    Buddy boy, you better start praying for redemption right now.

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