More Latter-day Saints are headed to the NFL. Here’s what they can expect

Kansas City’s Daniel Sorensen (49) huddles with teammates before a preseason game in Seattle in 2017. Sorensen is one of several Latter-day Saints playing in the NFL.

Kansas City’s Daniel Sorensen (49) huddles with teammates before a preseason game in Seattle in 2017. Sorensen is one of several Latter-day Saints playing in the NFL. | Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on what it’s like to be a Latter-day Saint football player in the NFL.

What is life in the National Football League like for a Latter-day Saint?

A number of former college players who belong to the global faith are about to find out.

BYU’s Zach Wilson and Oregon’s Penei Sewell were among the top players selected in this past weekend’s 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson was the second overall pick by the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions took Sewell at No. 7.

NFL teams drafted four other Latter-day Saint players on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then signed an additional six as undrafted free agents over the weekend.

To show what life as a Latter-day Saint is like in the NFL, the Deseret News spoke with current, former and drafted players, including Kansas City’s Daniel Sorensen, former Philadelphia Eagle Chad Lewis, former Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Hoke, former NFL quarterback John Beck and newly drafted Carolina Panther Brady Christensen.

DAN LOH, Associated Press
Former Philadelphia tight end Chad Lewis reacts after catching the winning touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Oct. 26, 1997, in Philadelphia. Lewis is one of many Latter-day Saints who have played in the NFL.

Chad Lewis

Lewis was a rookie and undrafted free agent signee when he approached then-Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden during his first NFL training camp and asked point blank if he would make the team.

Gruden responded with an unexpected question: “Hey, didn’t you go on like a mission thing or something?”

Lewis confirmed he was a missionary for two years in Taiwan.

“Aren’t you older?” the coach said.

“Yes,” said the 25-year-old tight end.

“I want you to act like it,” said Gruden, who is now the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. “You are not another rookie, another young guy. You’ve had experiences out in the world doing cool stuff. I want you to bring all of that to the table,” Lewis said Gruden told him.

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Lewis embraced the message and went on to a productive eight-year NFL career, primarily with the Eagles.

“He was saying, ‘You come to practice and you play with that kind of wisdom and experience,’” Lewis said. “‘Don’t act like a young buck.’”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stand out as they strive to live their standards and reflect their beliefs while competing at the highest level of professional football, and while playing football in what Beck described as an “environment of desensitization” where explicit language is commonplace.

Latter-day Saint NFL veterans shared stories about responding to gospel questions from teammates, adjusting to vulgar locker rooms, missionary service and the how their faith has been a source of strength in times of adversity.

Chris Hoke

Former Cougar, Chris Hoke, had a similar …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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