San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has a lot to be thankful for. Injuries to two players above Purdy on the depth chart propelled him to the starting quarterback’s job midway through the season.
Selected in the seventh round with the very last pick, “Mr. Irrelevant” has led the 49ers to eight straight victories and a place in the NFC championship game this Sunday at Philadelphia. During this stretch, Purdy has thrown an impressive 16 touchdown passes against only three interceptions.
“Every time I play – no matter what happens – I want others to see God through my actions,” Purdy has said. “Every time I step on the field I want to bring Him glory. Even when we lose, I point to God and thank Him for the opportunity. Everything happens for a reason; it’s all a lesson from the Lord. It’s a game, it’s not my life.”
This is not a marketing strategy. In the Bay Area, especially among millennial and Gen Z types, Purdy might have enhanced his commercial potential by coming out as a satanist.
But the open profession of one’s Christian faith is something of a tradition among professional quarterbacks. According to the publication ChurchLeaders, “An estimated three-fourths of NFL starting quarterbacks are evangelical Christian.”
For someone like Dak Prescott, whose Dally Cowboys team lost to the 49ers on Sunday, his faith serves as a useful buttress against the hostility losing quarterbacks face. “My faith is doubled down more than ever,” he wrote after a previous setback, “and I’m thankful that he’s my Savior and he guides me in life.”
Another winner this past Sunday was likely NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. His (and my) Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to advance to the AFC championship game.
“Faith is huge for me,” said Mahomes on a Fellowship of Christian Athletes video. “Before every game, I walk the field and I do a prayer at the goalpost. I just thank God for those opportunities, and I thank God for letting me be on a stage where I can glorify him.”
The losing quarterback in that game, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, is a professing Christian as well. “I don’t think anyone has abilities for no reason,” Lawrence told Sports Illustrated. “I don’t think anything is coincidence. God gave me these things for a reason, not just talent on the field, but other opportunities to be a light to people.”
On Saturday, Jalen Hurts led the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFC championship game. “I’ve just matured in and realized that God is everything and He’s worthy of praise,” Hurts told CBS Sports. “You have to put Him in the center of everything that you do. And that’s what I believe. … I’ve been blessed to grow, learn things, and just mature. And I know God has been there the whole entire way.”
Although known more for his bling and swagger than his piety, quarterback Joe Burrow is also a professing Christian. Burrow’s home church, Christ Community Wesleyan in Albany, Ohio, holds watch parties to cheer on their native son. On Sunday, they had much to cheer about as his Cincinnati Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills in the snow to earn a spot in the AFC championship.
It was the losing quarterback in that game, Josh Allen, who has had the most eye-opening faith experience this NFL season. Allen watched helplessly as his teammate Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a Bills-Bengals game three weeks earlier.
Allen admitted that before the incident he “wasn’t one of the biggest, strongest Christian followers.” That said, he described his and teammates’ response as “just kind of a spiritual awakening.”
“To see what’s transpired here, it’s a crazy, crazy feeling,” Allen added. “It’s something I’ve never felt before. It’s something I know a lot of my teammates have never felt before. You can’t really do anything but accept it and lean on your brothers and share that moment with them.”
Even the New York Times noticed this unexpected revival movement. “Prayers for Damar Hamlin Show Bond Between Football and Faith,” read a Jan. 5 headline. The article continued, “The outpouring reveals the way that Christian faith has long been intertwined with American football culture, tied to the sport through its popularity in the Bible Belt.”
Bengals fans spontaneously recited the Lord’s Prayer in the stands. And miracle of miracles, on the stupidly woke ESPN, analyst Dan Orlovsky led his co-anchors in prayer.
“God, we come to you in these moments we don’t understand,” said Orlovsky. “I believe in prayer, we believe in prayer, and we lift up Damar Hamlin’s name in your name.” His co-anchors added, “Amen.” No one was fired.
At the center of this unexpected revival was Hamlin himself. “Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much,” Hamlin tweeted as soon as he was able to, “thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed. This will make me stronger on the road to recovery, keep praying for me!”
Keep praying indeed.
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