The Rushmore Report – 2019 Predictions Sure to Go Wrong

Another year has passed and you know what that means. A new year is upon us. In this space, 365 days ago, I made several predictions for 2018. I’m not going to bother to review them. Let’s just assume I got ’em all right. But this is a time to look forward, not back. So here are a few predictions – some important (sports), some not (politics). But I’ll cover it all. Here we go . . .

1. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not retire in 2019. The 85-year-old jurist, who has recently suffered from cancer, a heart stent, and three broken ribs, will try to hang on until a Democrat is in the White House, so her replacement will share her liberal views.

2. Clarence Thomas, and possibly Samuel Alito, will announce surprise resignations from the High Court, in order to place their conservative seats in the hands of Trump appointees, who will be 20 years younger. Thomas (age 71) and Alito (age 69) could both serve for another ten years or more, but they will yield to pressure to step aside. At least one of them will.

3. The Democratic presidential field will start with enough candidates to fill a small stadium, but quickly fizzle to four: Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and a player to be named later. (Biden will win the nomination, but that is 2020 fodder.)

4. Two Democratic candidates will fail early and surprisingly – Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker.

5. Hillary Clinton will not run for president. (Her hope is that no one will emerge from the huge field, and that the party will eventually turn to her as their Savior. This will not happen.)

6. Robert Mueller’s report will finally come out. It will not conclude there was Trump-Russian collusion, but will cite enough questionable activities by the president to raise the specter of impeachment among House Democrats.

7. The Democratic House will narrowly decide against impeaching the president, but the process will still keep Congress at a stalemate for much of the year.

8. The stock market will continue a wild ride, finishing flat for 2019.

9. President Trump will initiate a major withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

10. The Golden State Warriors will beat whoever the Eastern Conference props up to be swept in four games.

11. The New Orleans Saints will defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees earning his second Super Bowl MVP award.

12. The Houston Astros will defeat the Chicago Cubs for the World Series in seven games. Fox’s television coverage will be dominated by extensive shots of Kate Upton (wife of Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander) in the stands with intermittent images of baseball mixed in.

The Rushmore Report – Odds on the Top 54 Presidential Contenders for 2020 (You’ll Love #54!)

It’s never too soon to predict the next presidential election. Just 698 days from the 2020 election, Kris Abbot has given us the latest “Sportsbook” odds on the dozens of potential candidates actually winning the race. For the sake of brevity, I am “only” going to list the top 54 contenders, in order. Why stop at 54? Because you will love who the odds makers have slotted into the 54th position. And before some of these names strike you as preposterous, remember that this time four years ago, a certain New York real estate tycoon may have been outside the top 54.

Before I give you the list, let’s note a few themes of the early polls.

First, while President Trump remains the individual favorite to win the race, the Democratic Party is favored to win the race. What does that mean? It means that while Trump has the highest individual chance of election, there is a greater chance that whoever emerges from the Democratic primaries will unseat him.

Second, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX) and Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) are co-favorites among Democrats, according to the current betting odds. O’Rourke helped inspire a shifting electorate in Texas that saw record numbers come out for the midterm elections, but at the end of the day, Ted Cruz won by a slim 51-48 percent margin. O’Rourke’s popularity, though, has thrust him into the national spotlight as he and Harris are now the two front-runners to represent the Democratic Party in 2020.

Third, celebrity candidate groundswell has slowed. With Trump emerging from the world of real estate and reality TV, there was early support for potential candidates such as Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, or Mark Cuban. While they are still remote possibilities, the bet is that the pendulum has swung toward more traditional candidates going forward.

Let’s get started with the top ten. These are the most likely winners of the 2020 presidential election, in order from best odds to least. Again, you will love #54!

1. Donald Trump
2. Beto O’Rourke
3. Kamala Harris
4. Bernie Sanders
5. Joe Biden
6. Elizabeth Warren
7. Mike Pence
8. Cory Booker
9. Kirsten Gillibrand
10. Oprah Winfrey

Here are your next ten . . .

11. Michelle Obama
12. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
13. Michael Avenatti
14. Nikki Haley
15. Andrew Cuomo
16. John Kasich
17. Mitch Landrieu
18. Paul Ryan
19. Julian Castro
20. Chris Murphy

Now, we could continue this list all the way to #54, but you are probably already numb from reading the first 20. So I’ll just give you the highlights of 21-53. (You will love #54!)

28. Marco Rubio
29. Mitt Romney
30. Ben Shapiro
33. Joe Kennedy III
34. Hillary Clinton
35. Mark Zuckerberg
36. Mark Cuban
39. George Clooney
44. Jeb Bush
47. Leonardo DiCaprio
48. Bill Gates
49. Ivanka Trump
50. Kanye West

And now we unveil the man of the hour. He’s a Republican who has never held office. He graduated from the University of Michigan, and then went on to play a little football in the NFL. And he would probably make a better president than the vast majority of those ahead of him on this list.

Will he make it to the Oval Office? Probably not. But we can hope. Let’s start a national movement, because this guy – more than any other candidate – is a true Patriot. A New England Patriot.


The Rushmore Report – New York Giant Odell Beckham, Jr. Boldly Shares His Faith

Odell Beckham is perhaps the most exciting star in the National Football League. The stand-out wide receiver for the New York Giants made what is described as the most sensational catch in NFL history last year. He has been rewarded with the largest contract of any receiver in history. But the life of Odell Beckham is much deeper than what happens on the gridiron. Every Sunday, well before the National Anthem is played, Beckham takes a knee. Why?

Odell Beckham is happy to answer that question.

Beckham says his life was changed when he turned it over to God this past summer. He took to Instagram to share with his 11.5 million followers that he has dedicated his life to Jesus Christ. In July, Beckham was on a trip to the Holy Land when he decided to get baptized. The receiver shared a photo of the experience with the caption, “FRESH START.” He said he had “been forgiven.”

For Odell Beckham, this is about his life, not just a single event in Israel. He said, “My journey is just beginning.” The next month, he posted, “God, I can’t even put into words my gratitude. This is only the beginning. I’m thankful.”

And before the start of the NFL season, Beckham posted,  “Lord, I come to you at this time, not to ask you for anything, but just to say Thank You.”

And in his most recent post, the Giant wrote, “Mind. Body. Spirit. God I can’t thank u enough for completely puttin me back together and givin me another opportunity. It’s OUR time.”

The LSU product, first round draft choice, and three-time Pro Bowler is a role model for today’s youth. In a time when kids are starving for men to look up to, God has provided such a man. His name is Odell Beckham.


The Rushmore Report – NFL’s Philip Rivers Credits the Success of His Marriage to Jesus

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is known for many things. Since taking over the reins as starting quarterback in 2006, Rivers has never missed a start, has thrown at least 20 touchdowns a season, and passed for more than 4,000 yards in eight of the last nine years. And while he is well on his way to being the greatest QB in Chargers history, less discussed is his unwavering commitment to his family and his strong connection to his faith.

In a recent sit-down with Rock Church’s Pastor Mile McPherson (a former San Diego Charger himself), Rivers opened up about his Catholic upbringing and how his relationship with Christ informs every decision that he makes.

Born and raised Catholic in a small town in northern Alabama, Rivers described Jesus as the “center of my life” since a very young age. He was an altar boy at church and attended mass every Sunday with his parents and two younger siblings, but it wasn’t until he went away to college at North Carolina State that his faith “really became my own.”

“My faith has always been very important to me,” Rivers told McPherson. “When I went to college is really when it became my own. I had to get up out of that dorm room and go to church, go to mass on Sunday. That’s when I took ownership of my faith.”

Rivers married his middle school sweetheart at the age of 19. Some 16 years later, the two have eight children—six girls and two boys—together. He shared that “remaining pure” and “being chaste” prior to getting married were “very important” to them, and since he “didn’t have a penny to my name” when they got married, Rivers said the foundation of their relationship was and is Jesus.

“I think that the center of our marriage and the foundation of our relationship was on Jesus,” he said. “That is why it’s worked to this point.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Rivers shared one of his favorite Bible versus, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, which became particularly important to his family in the wake of his son Gunner’s type one diabetes diagnosis.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

“I hope that God has used me to touch one of you in your faith journey with Jesus,” he concluded.

About the Author

This article first appeared on the newswire of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The Rushmore Report – Five Christian NFL Players to Watch This Season

This week marks the start of the NFL season. And while television ratings are down in the midst of the never-ending National Anthem controversy, the season will go on. Tens of millions of American fans will be watching their favorite teams. Hope springs eternal – whether you are a fan of the New England Patriots or the Cleveland Browns. But while you are watching your favorite teams, don’t forget your favorite athletes. Here are five Christian players to keep an eye on this season.

1. Russell Wilson

The quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks is a devout Christian. He is outspoken about his faith. In a recent documentary, The Making of a Champion, he described how he found God at age 14. “I had a dream that my dad passed away and that Jesus came into the room and he was basically knocking on my door, saying, ‘Hey, you need to find out more about me.’ So that Sunday morning I ended up going forward to church, and that’s when I got saved.” Six years later, his father did die. Wilson’s testimony is this: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Christ.”

2. Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers grew up in a Christian home, where his parents instilled a strong faith into his life. He asked Jesus to be his Savior when he was very young. He says of his upbringing, “I grew up knowing what a stable relationship was by my parents’ example and how it centered on Christ.” Rodgers says his life motto is, in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”

3. Colt McCoy

The backup quarterback from Texas grew up in church. He committed his life to Christ at the age of 14. McCoy has used his public platform to share his faith and that of others. He says, “For me, I’m successful because I have Jesus Christ living inside of me.” He continues, “I want everyone to know that they can have the same gift, the same opportunity. It’s free. God’s grace is free.”

4. Drew Brees

Another great quarterback, Drew Brees, of the New Orleans Saints, shares a powerful faith story. He accepted Christ at the age of 17, following knee surgery. One Sunday, his pastor said God was looking for a “few good men.” Brees offered to be one of those “good men.” The young quarterback lamented his trade to the Saints, but it was that trade that positioned him to lead the comeback for the city of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He describes the opportunity football has given him to share the good news as “a true blessing from God.”

5. Prince Amukamara

The cornerback for the New York Giants is bold in proclaiming his faith in Christ. Following his team’s Super Bowl win in 2011, he gave all the praise to God. Committed to personal purity, Amukamara says, “I am a virgin, and I’m not ashamed to say that.” As for the Christian life, he says, “It’s not about ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘Don’t do that.’ It’s about a personal relationship with Christ.”

The Rushmore Report – My Simple Solution to the NFL National Anthem Problem

Okay. Enough already with this NFL National Anthem thing. It has dragged on far too long. And despite the well-intentioned efforts of the NFL commissioners, NFL owners, President Trump, and the TV networks, a satisfying solution has yet to emerge. Until now. I have this thing figured out. And I suggest – humbly of course – that the players have it wrong. And the president has it wrong. And the owners and network brass have it wrong. But I’ve come to rescue the NFL from itself. I have the answer.

First, let’s review a few of the failed solutions to the problem.

1. The players

NFL players, by a huge majority, continue to stand for the National Anthem. But the NFL players union balks at any efforts by league officials to mandate this. And the idea of protesters staying in the locker room doesn’t work for them. They want free expression, out in the open. So the players want the right to take a knee during the anthem – in full view of the millions of Americans tuned in to watch the game. The problem with this is obvious. They work for their employers. And staging any kind of protest at work is not allowed in other workplaces. However, to deny them this first amendment expression is only serving to drag this out. This could be before the courts – and therefore before the fans – for years.

2. The owners

The NFL owners are all over the board on this one. Jerry Jones has demanded that the Dallas Cowboys all stand for the Anthem. And his players have obliged. But other owners have allowed for players to do what they want. So the owners have no unified position.

3. The commissioner

Roger Goodell came out with a new policy in May. It said that players cannot kneel, but can still protest by staying back in the locker room until after the Anthem. This fell flat with the players union. So Goodell did what he always does. To use an NFL phrase, he punted.

4. The networks

Both NBC and CBS have announced their solution. They simply won’t show the National Anthem on TV before the games. They reason, the networks don’t televise the National Anthem for other events, such as major awards shows or Major League Baseball. The problem with this solution is obvious – this is the NFL, where they have always televised the National Anthem. This is the chicken way out.

5. Sports writers

A new solution has been offered by major sports commentators. Let each team decide for itself. In cities where patriotism is a big deal, let the owners demand that their players stand for the Anthem. In other places, they don’t have to. But this is no answer, as this would still lead to unending opposition from the players union.

6. My solution – the only good one

That leaves us with my solution – the only one that will work. This is so obvious that I am shocked I have not heard it suggested anywhere else. If I thought of this, surely someone else has. But since the geniuses that run the NFL, the networks, the players union, and the networks have yet to figure this out, I’m happy to help. Here you go. I offer a two-step plan.

Step 1 – Let the players do whatever they want. To order the players to stand for the Anthem will never stand up in court. The expression of the first amendment will trump all else. So any effort to disallow players the right to protest will only shine a brighter light on the protest most of us wish would go away.

Step 2 – Have the networks continue to televise the National Anthem, but do not show any of the players!  The purpose of the National Anthem is to put a focus – for about four minutes – on our great country and its flag – not the players on the sideline. What is the point of watching players stand there (or in some cases, kneel), anyway? Do we really need to know if Tom Brady knows all the words to the song or if a backup running  back for the New York Jets does not want to honor our flag? If we want the players to just play ball, then we need to take the spotlight off of them for the four minutes that we say we want to honor the flag.

What will happen if the NFL gets smart and follows my plan? Two things.

First, the issue will fade into the background. They need to quit talking about it. And by not showing the Anthem at all (the networks’ plan, except for Fox), that will just stoke the flames even more. But if the networks show the anthem and the announcers shut up about which player is kneeling, staying in the locker room, or doing something stupid on the sideline, the issue will fade away.

Second, democracy will take over. For teams and players who still kneel, fans will continue to turn against them. It is the right for the players to kneel. And it is the right for the networks to not show it. And it is the right of the fans to boo them and quit buying their jerseys.

Bonus Suggestion

I will toss in another suggestion for free. This one came from Tony Dungy. The Hall-of-Fame coach has suggested that at the start of each head coach’s weekly press conference, he should set aside ten minutes for his players – who want to push their agenda – to take a few minutes to address their opinions on civil rights, etc. Give them a voice. Dungy reasons, this would actually allow the players to say what they stand for, rather than stage a protest nobody understands.

So there you have it. The solution is so simple. It’s as obvious as the star on the Cowboys’ helmets. Let the players do what they want, but don’t make us watch it. Let the focus of the National Anthem be the American flag – period. Quit talking about what the players are doing during the Anthem. This would satisfy the players union (legally, at least), avoid any more lawsuits, and allow the millions of fans who simply tune in to watch football to have their game back – just like it always was.

The Rushmore Report – Florida Atlantic Coach Lane Kiffin’s Remarkable Journey of Faith

Lane Kiffin has been a football coach at some impressive places: the Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee, USC, and Alabama to name a few. Along the way, the colorful coach has made a lot of friends – and enemies. He has developed a reputation as the coach the other teams’ fans love to hate. But along the way, God never gave up on him. And now, the coach who has resurrected the anemic program at Florida Atlantic University, has found God. This is his story.

After his USC team lost a game to Arizona State, the coach was pulled off the team bus, where he was told he had been fired. He had to find another way home.

“I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone,” he says. “I wanted to die, because at the time, I was defined by my job.”

But God had other plans.

Kiffin says, “Just when I needed God most, he answered in a big way. I don’t know if God is a sports fan or not, but I do know this: he loves a good comeback.”

When he was at Tennessee, team chaplain Roger Woods gave the coach a copy of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Drive Life. Years later, that book would change his life.

“On the first page were four words that changed everything,” he says. “It’s not about you.”

Kiffin says that brought an old message a fresh meaning to his life. He believes he had “too much success, fame, and money in life too soon.” He was the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Looking back on his dismissal from USC, he says, “What it turned out to be was the beginning of God humbling me to become the man I am today. I was not using the platform he put me on for him. As my pastor once said, God wan’t punishing me; he was just giving me a wake-up call.”

Kiffin plans to use the rest of his career to point others to Christ. Already, he has made a difference in the life of the man he respects most, as his dad has come to Christ, as well.

The coach says, “I don’t like to focus too much on my past, because then it stops becoming your past and starts to become your present. However, my story is a special exception, because it shows people that it’s never too late to discover God, and we can overcome anything in our past. I like to tell people these days, if God can forgive me, he can forgive anyone.”

The Rushmore Report – Ray Lewis Inducted to HOF, Talks Faith & Second Chances

A conversation with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is typically dotted with homespun philosophy, frequent mentions of faith, and biblical references. Upon his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame, Lewis has encouraged members of the press to read Psalm 91, which ends, “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” This isn’t the first time the all-time great has spoken out about his faith. And Ray Lewis also likes to talk about the God of a second chance.

Lewis said, “For me, through the ups and downs, the roller coasters of 17 years, you have to find a safe place. You have to find that place that is very quiet in your head, and anytime I read it, anytime I come across it, my Bible, the first Scripture I read is Psalm 91.”

The former NFL Player of the Year compared himself to the character of David in the Old Testament. He sees David as a flawed, but righteous king, warrior, musician, and poet.

Speaking of his personal faith, Lewis said, “Man doesn’t dictate what you do or how you do it. If you believe in God, never stop trusting. That is where my faith lies.”

Back to the comparison with David, Lewis identifies with him because he was a sinner who turned his life around and made good. There were ramifications for his mistakes, but David discovered a God of a second chance.

Lewis has become a force in the community and a mentor to young athletes. His standard piece of advice to them is not to use his life and career as a model. “Follow my advice, not my footprints,” he says. “Don’t ever do it the way I did. You got to be willing to walk in a storm. That’s what I tell people all the time. If there’s something in your life that you know needs changing, make sure you change it before God has to do it for you. Because if God’s got to change it, you ain’t going to like it.”

Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome, himself a former NFL great, said of Lewis, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up. And Ray has gotten up. He has followed his faith to a second chance God. Ray Lewis is a Hall of Fame player, but more than that, he has become a Hall of Fame person.”

About the Author

William Rhoden writes for the New York Times.

The Rushmore Report – College Football Icon Talks about His Faith

Clemson’s head football coach, Dabo Swinney was recently interviewed during the press briefing for the upcoming season for the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the Tigers are picked to win another conference championship. The coach of the 2016 national championship team, Swinney was asked about football – and then his faith. Clearly, Swinney cherished the opportunity to talk about his faith, and how Christ has changed his life.

“Man, that’s the easiest question I’ve had all day,” Swinney commented. Enthusiastically, he responded, recounting his childhood, being raised by parents who taught him there was a God, and later, coming to Christ at the age of sixteen: “And that was a game-changer for me,” he said, “That’s really become the foundation of my life.”

Swinney continued, “It’s hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation and have something that that you know, [sic] will give you peace, because life is hard. And we’re all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer. God has always – in my relationship with Christ – given me hope and peace.”

Swinney also shared his life verse, Jeremiah 29:11, saying that he applied it to his life’s journey. The Coach of the Year said that, even though he is the head coach of Clemson’s football program, this life hasn’t always been this way.

“I’ve always used that as, to me, if there’s really hope in the future, then there’s power in the present to deal with whatever mess you’re dealing with in your life. You know, to step through, to hang in there, to persevere, to continue to believe in something. And that’s what my relationship with Christ did for me. It gave me a hope and a belief – the ability to have a hope and a belief beyond my circumstances.”

Referring to his greatest accomplishment, Swinney said it is his three sons’ professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

Swinney concluded, ‘Trust me, the people that know me know I ain’t perfect, but I do try to live my life in a way that can be pleasing to my Maker, because I know I’m going to meet him one day. And he’s not going to pat me on the back, talking about how many wins I had, how many coach of the year trophies we got, or how much money I made. Rather, he’s gonna hold me accountable to, you know, how I took advantage of the opportunity and the blessings that he gave me, the impact that I had on young people, the type of men that we develop through a game.”

The Rushmore Report – Christian Boxer Manny Pacquiao Caught Changing Life of Filipino Ice Cream Vendor

Well-known Christian athlete Manny Pacquiao, now a senator in his native Philippines, was caught on camera changing a Filipino ice cream vendor’s life. Facebook user Jen Manilay recorded a moment when professional boxer Pacquiao met a local ice cream man and decided to help him with more than a few purchases of  ice cream. “Sen. Manny Pacquiao is such a good and humble man,” Manilay wrote.

She explained that she was with Pacquiao recently during a sweltering hot day in the Philippines when they decided to get some ice cream from a local vendor. She bought 10 ice treats and handed the dessert to each team member, including the boxing champ. Pacquiao called for the ice cream vendor and after some small talk, he was made aware that the man, Marciano, had recently suffered from a stroke.

The professional boxer turned politician then handed him 3,000 Philippine pesos which is about 57 U.S. dollars to help cushion his monetary and children’s educational needs. Not satisfied with his love offering, Pacquiao felt compelled to give even more and then raised the gift to 30,000 pesos (about $570 in U.S. dollars). The Christian athlete was so moved by Manilay’s life that he even offered him a job, a house and a lot.

Pacquiao has made helping people in his native Philippines a priority, and previously told The Christian Post that they inspired him to become a politician. “I want to provide opportunities for my fellow countrymen that will improve their situations. As a politician, I want to help create jobs so that I can bring them out of their poverty,” Pacquiao said to CP. “I want to give them hope. Boxing has been my passion, but public service is my calling. I love my boxing, but I realize now that is not what my life is all about.”

The 39-year-old grew up in poverty. He has shared publicly that his family was extremely poor during his childhood. He dropped out of high school at the age of 14 in order to support his family of seven. Pacquiao is a former eight-division world champion with 60 wins in his career. He previously told The Christian Post that he fights for both God and country.

“I want to please the Lord, my family, and my fans with this fight,” he told CP last April. “I want them to know I fought for God and my country, to bring them honor and glory.”

The Southpaw is now a politician and reportedly serves in the Philippines military reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

About the Author

Jeannie Law writes for The Christian Post.