Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Onetime rivals team up for 'Religion of Sports'

When Michael (Strahan) sacked (Tom) Brady.

AP (2008)

When Michael (Strahan) sacked (Tom) Brady.

Call it the unholy alliance: one-time Super Bowl rivals Tom Brady and Michael Strahan are teaming up to produce a six-part documentary TV series called the Religion of Sports.

Each hour-long episode looks at different examples of the cultural and spiritual impact of sports in religions around the world.

The show explores the rivalry between soccer clubs in Glasgow, Scotland; the Calgary Stampede rodeo in Alberta, Canada; and the rise of "e-sports." It also delves into NASCAR, mixed martial arts and minor-league baseball.

The Associated Press caught up with Brady, Strahan and Gotham Chopra — the creator, director and voice — of the series that airs beginning Nov. 15 on the Audience Network on DirecTV and AT&T U-verse.

Brady is a quarterback for the New England Patriots. Strahan is a retired New York Giants defensive end, who is joining ABC's Good Morning America this fall. Chopra is the son of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra.

Their comments have been edited for clarity and length:

Where did the idea of this show come from?

Chopra: Figuratively I feel like I've been working on this my whole life. Obviously growing up with my father, I was around that world of spirituality and religion. But I also grew up in Boston. I bled green as a Celtics fan in the '80s. I loved sports. About five years ago, I had a conversation with my father, who never really understood that devotion to sports. And I remember saying to him that all of those things you speak in the spiritual tradition also exist in sports.

What drew you to this project?

Strahan: I love the emotional aspect of it. You hear Religion of Sports, and you say, "Okay, so sport is a religion?" Well, yeah, it really is. The temple is this arena or stadium. These athletes can be considered the gods in certain ways and the fans can be considered parishioners. So to be able to explore that and this spiritual connection between sports and life, that's what really piqued my interest.

You say sport creates a "spiritual experience" for both fans and players. How would you describe that to non-sports fans?

Brady: It's pretty simple: In sports you often become part of something greater than yourself. On the field, you come into sync with your teammates and coaches and together you achieve something that you could never do on your own. And as an athlete, when you are on that field and the fans get really engaged and you can feel their energy and passion and true love of the game, it is absolutely a spiritual experience.

How is this series going to be different from other sports documentary shows?

Chopra: I compare it a lot to This American Life. It's stories about why sports gives people purpose, meaning and significance — whether you're an athlete, fan or person that works within sports. It's very much character-driven. The backdrop happens to be sports.

What was the most interesting thing for you?

Strahan: It's finding out those backstories and motivations. It's the real heart-to heart-feel of everybody's story. Cat Zingano (an MMA fighter the series followed as she prepared for a comeback fight earlier this year) and her reason for doing what she's doing. Once you see that episode, you'll have a much deeper appreciation for who she is and what she's come from.

Did you learn anything new about sports culture?

Brady: As far as the series goes, it's great to learn more about sports I'm probably less familiar with — stock-car racing, rodeo, e-sports — and realize that a lot of the people at the center of those sports bring the same level of passion, commitment and disciple that I try to with football. Sports is a way of life for billions of people around the planet. Religion of Sports takes you beyond sports as we know it.

Onetime rivals team up for 'Religion of Sports' 09/14/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Ready to win, and win big:' Dick Vitale sees Bucs going 10-6

    Blogs

    ESPN's Dick Vitale, whose love and optimism for Tampa Bay sports teams goes far beyond basketball, has high hopes for the Bucs in 2017.

    ESPN's Dick Vitale, shown at One Buc Place last year when he announced a Bucs draft pick, has high hopes for Tampa Bay this fall, predicting a 10-6 record for the Bucs.
  2. Want elite college football athletes? Recruit Tampa Bay

    Blogs

    Now that college football watch list season is over (I think), here's one takeaway you probably already knew: Tampa Bay produces a lot of great athletes.

    Robinson High produuct Byron Pringle has gone from this performance in a high school all-star game to all-Big 12 at Kansas State.
  3. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Jake Faria had his lucky rubber duck — OG, the original one he has had since high school — with him, and the Rays had nothing to worry about as he put his rocky Wednesday outing well behind him, working into the eighth while scattering seven hits.

  5. Rays journal: Rookie Jacob Faria continues to show veteran poise

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles threatened in the first inning and the second. They loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning with the top of the order up and seemed poised for a big inning. But those opportunities produced only one run because Rays rookie RHP Jacob Faria kept his composure and got the …

    Jacob Faria goes a career-high 71/3 innings, staying composed when the Orioles threaten.