Wearing a white cap and a white collar on the field at Giants games, Rev. Bill Dowd is the official team chaplain for Big Blue – a job that sometimes comes with urgent requests.
“Lots of times on the sidelines people come up,” Dowd told NBC New York. “I get a few punches – ‘Are you praying? Are you praying?’”
And he says back to them: “Yes are you playing? ‘Cause it’s a combo.'”
First with the team from 1991 to 1997, Dowd rejoined the Giants in 2006. Since then, he's held Mass the night before every game, leads a Bible study group and likens his team to a small parish. He has even officiated at weddings and baptisms.
“I call it a ministry of presence -- you want to be present for them."
Offering encouragement before every game, Dowd never strays far from the sidelines, where the players fist bump him as they come out.
“It used to be high five ‘til my arm just started hurting -- these are very strong human beings and very wonderful human beings -- so now we do the fist bump," Dowd said. "I just wish the player ‘best game’ and ‘God watch over you, keep you safe.’”
Now of course not all of the Giants players are practicing Catholics, but a good number of them are, as are coaches. Dowd said he doesn’t just teach religious lessons, but life lessons.
“We all have accountability, we all need to be serious about our lives, our families, our relationships, these are the things that matter when the game is over,” Dowd said.
As for the game itself though, Dowd knows a thing or two about winning Super Bowls. He was, of course, with the team in 2008, and predicts a repeat victory over the Patriots.
“We’re a whole new team, and by the way we did beat them in the regular season, so hope springs eternal … this is the fan speaking, but I feel there’s a very good chance for them to take this game.”
From his lips to you-know-who’s ears.