In 2010 and 2011, Tim Tebow took the NFL by storm. As a member of the Denver Broncos, he became the team’s full-time starting quarterback beginning in the sixth game of 2011. The Broncos were 1–4 before he became the starter, but began winning with him on the field, often coming from behind late in the fourth quarter. During this time, Tebow became a national phenomenon because of his outspoken Christian faith.
Now a few years later, Tebow is out of the NFL. And, with a new NFL season underway, the question arises? Who is the next Tim Tebow in the NFL?
Here are several outspoken Christian Football Players you’ll watch right now in the NFL:
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback
Drew Brees accepted Jesus Christ on his 17th birthday after having knee surgery during his junior year of high school. Though he attended church in his early childhood, it wasn’t until his pastor said that he was looking for “a few good men for God” that he realized that he could be one of those men.
Brees has also shared how being a Christian has helped him deal with various forms of adversity during his career. After he began playing with the San Diego Chargers, he suffered a severe shoulder injury that jeopardized his career. But God had different plans for Brees, who was able to overcome his injury through hard work and faith. Nine months later he signed a contract with New Orleans before the 2006 season. He believed this was all part of God’s plan, explaining, “I looked back after I had already been in New Orleans for a year and said, ‘You know what, God? That was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me’… Otherwise, I would never have had the opportunity to be a part of this community, to be a part of the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina.”
2. Prince Amukamara, Chicago Bears cornerback
Amukamara formerly played for the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl ring with the team in 2011. After the victory he was seen pointing to heaven in praise. He is also unashamed to share how his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ has transformed his life: “I am a virgin, I’m not ashamed to say that,” Amukamara said. “I grew up Catholic, so it just started out as one of those things. I’d think, ‘If I do this, maybe I can get to heaven,’ so I had no drinks, no sex, all the big things. As I grew up, I realized that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about ‘Don’t do this or don’t do that… It’s about having a relationship with Jesus.”
3. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback
Wentz is hoping to be the Eagles starting quarterback when the season kicks off on September 6th. But a knee injury that kept him out of last year’s playoff for the eventual Super Bowl champs is worse than thought.
Wentz has a slogan, “Audience of One,” referring to playing for God. Wentz wants to use his status as an NFL quarterback to be a disciple and spread God’s word. “If you love your wife, job or what you do, you’re going to talk about it,” Wentz told reporters. “Well, I love Jesus. That’s what I love, so I’m going to talk about it.”
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback
Many players say their faith has helped through tough times, but Wilson says, “I don’t have highs and lows because I play for Him.” Wilson gives God the credit for his talent. “I’m just grateful that God has given me the opportunity to play the great game of football. I try to live humbly…without Him, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Wilson.
“God has put me on that field for a reason, in front of 80,000 people… I’m a constant work in progress—we all are. That’s the amazing thing about Jesus—He takes you for who you are,” said Wilson.
5. Trey Burton, Chicago Bears tight end
Burton played for the Super Bowl champion Eagles last year and threw a touchdown pass in the big game. He was also one of the teammates at pool side while Marcus Johnson was baptized. He said of those fellow believers, “We have a bunch of guys whose hearts truly want to see a change, not only in the locker room but big picture would be the city of Philadelphia. The need for Jesus here is huge and we’re just trying to do our part.”
That group made fellowship part of their weekly schedule.
“Monday Night is our couples Bible Study. Thursday night at the team facility, we’ll do our weekly team Bible study. That’s been really fruitful,” said Burton. “Saturday before meetings we’ll have another chapel, and depending on what city it is in, we’ll try to get a speaker in. After our meeting Saturday Night, that’s really our discipleship time. We go into one of the guy’s hotel rooms and we have a pointed scripture that we’re reading for the week. That’s really where we’ve seen the most growth. We just have a bunch of guys saying yes to what the Lord is calling us to do and this season we’re in.”
My verse for this season. #Year5 🐻⬇️
“How can you believe [in Me], when you [seek and] receive glory and approval from one another, and yet you do not seek the glory and approval which comes from the one and only God?”
JOHN 5:44 pic.twitter.com/olclwb7V78
— Trey Burton (@TreyBurton8) September 9, 2018
6. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback
Foles stepped in when Carson Wentz went down with a season ending injury. Most thought the Eagles’ championship hopes went down with him, but Foles had another idea. Last year’s Super Bowl MVP carried the team through the playoffs and championship game.
Foles is taking online seminary classes through Liberty University with the goal of one day becoming a pastor in a high school.
“When I speak to (students), that’s such a time of young men and young women’s lives that there’s a lot of things that are thrown at them. So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the Internet that you want to talk to them and address it, and share all the weaknesses I have because I’ve fallen many times,” Foles added. “It’s something I want to do. I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”
7. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders quarterback
When Carr signed his new contract last year for $25 million he was the highest paid player in NFL history. At the news conference announcing the deal Carr pledged to tithe the huge amount.
That’s quite a commitment from a man who admits he strayed from the faith after being raised in a godly Christian home. He says the love of Jesus expressed through a woman drew his heart back to God.
One day God used a beautiful young woman, Heather Neel, to get his attention. They met at BJ’s Brewhouse, where she worked as a server. “I hit on her. I talked to her. I used a corny pickup line and it worked. She told me I needed to come to church with her.”
Heather began to pray for Derek to come back to the Lord. “One day we got in an argument over something. I won the argument and then she grabbed my hand and started praying for me.”
“That is the day my life changed and I said no to sin.” He married Heather in 2012 and they have two sons.
“I grew up in this church and I knew who Christ was and I knew who God was and I loved him,” Derek shared in his home church in Fresno, Calif., in 2015.
8. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles tight end
Ertz told Sports Spectrum that he wanted to use his platform to spread the Word of Jesus: “Our No. 1 goal on this Earth is to make disciples. That’s the only job we want to do. So this is a platform we have to draw people to the Word, to Jesus. That’s something we don’t take for granted by any means.”
In this YouTube video, he admits it sometimes takes courage to be open about your faith in the NFL.
9. Case Keenum
Case Keenum has a football career that has been filled with detours and potholes. It started when he tore his right ACL during his senior season at the University of Houston. The recovery from the setback was difficult, but the injury taught Keenum to lean on something greater than the game of football.
“That was as tough a time as I’ve ever gone through,” Keenum told the Pioneer Press. “You just realize that football is fickle; it’s not going to be there all the time. Just getting my priorities straight and knowing the true reason I play the game, and that’s to give glory to God. That’s something I take pride in. It’s why I do what I do.
“That’s why I became a Christian — being around Christian athletes through FCA. I’m not playing for the name on the back of my jersey, I’m playing to glorify God. He’s given me talents, and I’m trying to maximize those talents however I can.”
(Tim Tebow photo credit: Deseret News)
This article was adapted with permission from churchleaders.com.