Pope Francis offers Super Bowl message of peace and goodwill

If there were any more doubts about the Super Bowl’s worldwide presence … Pope Francis himself has just released a Super Bowl message.

“Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace,” Pope Francis said in the video, slated to be played at NRG Stadium early in the game. “By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest — and in a healthy way — we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules. May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world.”

[Yahoo Store: Get your Super Bowl LI gear right here!]

The Pope did not offer a prediction on the game. But Falcons fans are free to consider the “respect the rules” line a subtle dig at the Patriots.

MALMO, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 31: Pope Francis gives a speech during the 'Together in Hope' event at Malmo Arena on October 31, 2016 in Malmo, Sweden. The Pope is on 2 days visit attending Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration in Lund and Malmo. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Pope Francis. (Getty Images)

More Super Bowl coverage on Yahoo Sports:

Patriots’ owner hopes President Trump can get his Super Bowl ring back from Putin
Super Bowl commercials: Grading the best and worst
There’s no good reason why Tom Brady is the player everyone loves to hate

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.