Update 1/31/13: Make sure to check out Christians in Super Bowl XLVII for an in-depth look at over 55 Christian athletes!
So I’m playing fantasy football for the first time ever and, I have to say, it’s not near as hard as I thought it would be! Granted, I spent two weeks prior to our draft researching players, organizing spreadsheets and asking every guy I ran into if he had any advice – but, when the time came to pick my players, I felt really confident. I had a plan. Now, outside of the Steelers (go Pittsburgh!) I didn’t really know who anyone was, but: I had a general drafting strategy (in hindsight, I should’ve stocked up on more running backs earlier!), I took advantage of some technical tips (log-in when the draft opens an hour early and drag all of the players you want into the “auto-select” box – that way, when the time comes to pick, you remember your plan and your nerves don’t get the best of you!) and I knew I didn’t want Reggie Bush. Because he broke up with Kim Kardashian. And that is not ok with me.
Now, heading into Week Six, I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve won two, lost three (give me a break: Brady’s my QB and I think it took him a couple weeks to realize the season started) and I’m feeling pretty good about my next match-up. Which frees up a little bit of time to think about more important stuff, like: faith, Christian athletes and that infamous tweet from Tim Tebow about the 666th game of Monday night football.
Where are all the Christian football players?
The Huffington Post ran a feature on faith and football, highlighting some of the sport’s most religious players:
- Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers quarterback, quoted as saying: “I think it helps to have a pretty good knowledge of the way that Jesus spoke and taught and interacted with people in the New Testament. He cared about people, He spent time with people, He cared about relationships, and that’s kind of my leadership style.”)
- Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens linebacker who says his favorite scripture is Mark 9:35 – “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.””)
- Matt Hasselback (Tennessee Titans quarterback who relies on Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”)
- Jay Feely (Arizona Cardinals kicker who reminds himself of Philippians 4:13 before playing – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”)
- Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers safety who practices Orthodox Christianity; according to The Post Game, Polamalu has said, “Football doesn’t define me. It’s what I do [and] how I carry out my faith.”)
The Bleacher Report also ran a nice piece on religion and the NFL, putting the spotlight on:
- Deion Sanders (Hall of Fame player who turned to religious counseling to help “separate him from the secular world’)
- Kurt Warner (former Super Bowl-winning NFL quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals)
- Reggie White (fondly referred to as “The Minister of Defense,” White passed away in 2004)
- Shaun Alexander (former Seattle Seahawks player who, according to the Bleacher Report, “refers to himself as a man of God that happens to play football and not a football player who believes in God”)
- Hunter Smith (former Indianapolis Colts punter/current free agent who plays in the Christian rock band, Connersvine)
What’s the deal with Tebow?
According to the Bleacher Report, Tebow’s parents were working as missionaries in the Philippines when the New York Jets back-up quarterback was born; he now returns to the Philippines for mission work during the offseason. Tebow’s website features scripture from John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Arguably the most famous Christian athlete of all time, Tebow draws his fair share of attention – most recently with a tweet featuring a strange statistic:
Looking forward to giving God all the glory in tonight’s 666th Monday Night Football game. Romans 8:37-39
— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) October 8, 2012
Making this twitter post creepy? The fact that New York Jets starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, posted the following stats after the game:
- 66.6 passer rating
- 6.6 yards per attempt
- 6 touchdowns
- 6 interceptions
- Longest season completion: 66 yards
- (Oh yeah, and his jersey number? 6)
So how do Christian NFL players stack up?
If we were to imagine a hypothetical Christian roster (drafted with players who have publicly declared their faith), how would our team stand up? Plugging players into the same roster I use for my standard-league ESPN team, here’s what our fantasy line-up would look like (point totals are based on ESPN tallies from Weeks 1-5):
- QB: Drew Brees 
- RB: Roy Helu 
- RB: Ray Rice 
- WR: Calvin Johnson 
- WR: Anquan Boldin 
- TE: Jason Witten 
- FLEX: Jordy Nelson 
- D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals* 
- K: Jay Feely 
TOTAL POINTS (going into Week 6): 404
*Bengals Coach, Marvin Lewis, was named one of the most religious coaches in the NFL by the Huffington Post.
That would put our team at #7 in my 10-team league. Not too bad!
If you know of any other Christian football players, add your suggestions in the comment section below!
Maybe we can bring our score up! (And to learn more about faith and football, check out Curtis Eichelberger’s new book, “Men of Sunday: How Faith Guides the Players, Coaches, and Wives of the NFL” and Sports Spectrum magazine.)
Bonham, Chad. “Inspiring Athletes Top 30 Christian Sports Stories of 2011.” Beliefnet. Retrieved: 11 October 2012.
Daniels, David. “NFL’s Jesus Squad: Drew Brees, Troy Polamalu and the NFL All-Christian Team.” Bleacher Report: 25 December 2010. Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
Eichelberger, Curtis. “Most Religious Football Players and Coaches.” Huffington Post: 29 August 2012. Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
ESPN. “Free Fantasy Football: Free Agents.” Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
GMC. “NFL Players Who Keep the Faith.” Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
Lendino, Brian. “Tim Tebow and the 10 Most Religious Players in NFL History.” Bleacher Report: 16 January 2012. Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
Maller, Ben. “Tim Tebow Overshadowing Several of NFL’s Other Religious Players.” The Post Game: 6 December 2011. Retrieved: 10 October 2012.
Super Bowl Gospel. “Faith & Football – Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens.” Retrieved: 10 October 2012.