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Faithful field generals

TRENDING | Christian quarterbacks abound on this year’s NFL playoff teams

Brock Purdy (No. 13) prays on the field with Seattle Seahawks players and others after a game. Jeff Lewis / AP

Faithful field generals
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There is no shortage of Christian quarterbacks in the upcoming National Football League playoffs. Of the teams that made it, five have professing Christians leading their offenses. Now, we’re all used to Christian players giving quick nods to Jesus in sideline interviews. But these QBs live out their faith in word and deed on one of the world’s most visible platforms.

Perhaps the biggest come-from-behind story of the bunch belongs to the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy: Selected out of Iowa State in the 2022 NFL draft, Purdy had the dubious distinction of being taken dead last. As such, he inherited the title “Mr. Irrelevant,” bestowed annually to the final player chosen in the NFL’s ballyhooed selection of elite college talent.

Normally, the “Mr. Irrelevant” label is ­fitting—the player who receives it rarely makes the roster of the team that selected him. Purdy is the rare exception: Not only did he make the 49ers’ roster as the third-string quarterback, he rapidly ascended to the No. 1 spot when Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo went down with injuries.

Purdy responded by out-dueling NFL legend Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first career start. He guided the 49ers to three more wins and a 2022-23 division title, then won two playoff games before suffering an elbow injury during the conference championship game—a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Purdy underwent surgery, and media types questioned how effective he would be should he return in 2023. He responded by regaining the starting job, reeling off five straight victories, and putting up Most Valuable Player–type numbers.

Purdy then reversed a 3-game midseason losing streak to lead his team to five more consecutive wins, including three against potential division champions. The other two came against one of the 49ers’ chief rivals for the NFC West title, the Seattle Seahawks.

Despite the celebrity that has come with his success, Purdy has managed to remain grounded. Media outlets have reported on the signal caller’s $870,000 salary—meager by NFL standards—as well as the fact that he shares a condo with a roommate in the uber-expensive Bay Area.

Deebo Samuel, a 49ers wide receiver, calls Purdy a “humble beast.” And while some of his teammates have taken to trash-talk in Purdy’s name, Purdy tries to remain all business.

“I get a laugh out of it and stuff,” Purdy told The Philadelphia Inquirer before leading the 49ers to a 42-19 thumping of the Eagles in early December. “It’s funny, but for myself, it’s another game for me where I have to be prepared to play football and make the right decisions consistently, handle the operation of the offense. That’s where my mind has to be, not on all the other stuff, so obviously, I don’t get caught up in it.”

Patrick Mahomes greets Jalen Hurts after their game on Nov. 20.

Patrick Mahomes greets Jalen Hurts after their game on Nov. 20. Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Speaking of the Eagles, their star QB, Jalen Hurts, is a Christian, too. He was one of two Christian field generals to compete in the 2023 Super Bowl—the other being Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to a 38-35 triumph over Philadelphia.

Hurts has been open about his favorite Bible verse, John 13:7: “Jesus replied, ‘You do not know now, but later you will understand.’” He has relied heavily on that verse to get him through some of his on-field struggles, including losing his starting job at the University of Alabama to Tua Tagovailoa during college football’s 2018 national championship game and going 4-11-1 during his rookie season in Philadelphia.

Hurts hasn’t struggled much since then, however, guiding the Eagles to an NFC East crown last year and the playoffs this year. Mahomes, meanwhile, has led Kansas City to three Super Bowl appearances—and two wins—in the past five seasons, and many sports media outlets are predicting another Super Bowl run for the Texas Tech alum, who last February became one of the few players to win the NFL’s regular-season and Super Bowl MVP awards in the same season.

Tagovailoa, incidentally, is another Christian quarterback enjoying success in the NFL this season. The Miami Dolphins standout has been one of the few high-profile athletes to weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This world needs prayer,” Tagovailoa said in a press conference after a game in mid-October. “I don’t know what we’ve come to, but just my thoughts, my prayers are out with the people of Israel. … Hopefully, we all come together and can pray for the kids, the children, the wives, the women, and the men that are putting themselves out there every day for those unfortunate events that are happening right now.”


Christian QB C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans helped his team make the playoffs as well. Stroud, a rookie, has been open about his Christian faith, praising God after a November victory over Tampa Bay following a series of struggles.

“These last couple of weeks, I’ve been up and down,” Stroud said. “I’ve been going through a lot on and off the field. But when you give your life to the Lord, He gives you opportunities, and it’s what you do with it. I do it for the glory of God, man.”

Two other Christian quarterbacks—the New Orleans Saints’ Derek Carr and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence—had their teams on the cusp of the playoffs as well. But with five that did make it, more than a third of the teams in the NFL playoffs have Christians at the helm.

Ray Hacke

Ray is a sports correspondent for WORLD who has covered sports professionally for three decades. He is also a licensed attorney who lives in Keizer, Ore., with his wife Pauline and daughter Ava.



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