DALLAS — The 2011 NFL season featured the appearance of
three highly touted quarterbacks, dedicated to honoring God with their
Those who watched Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford in their first
professional year said Thursday at Super Bowl XLV media headquarters they came
away impressed with their ability and maturity.
Kurt Warner, who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams and led the Arizona
Cardinals to the verge of another one before retiring, said he was thrilled to
see the faith-filled trio carrying on a Christian legacy.
“You always need standard-bearers to set the ground rules,” said Warner, who
wore a black and white T-shirt with the large word “Sanctify” on the back,
while making the rounds in the media center. “To the extent I was able to make
it easier for them, no matter if you’re talking about faith or football or
anything else, is great.”
After completing a stellar college football season, Bradford, from Oklahoma,
was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and almost led the Rams back to the
playoffs while starting at QB his first season.
Tebow, the former Florida Gator, was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos
and was able to start later in the year. McCoy, from Texas, wasn’t picked until
the third round by the Cleveland Browns, but also worked his way into the
starting lineup later in the season.
“I was pleased with where I was picked, because I know there is always a plan
and a purpose,” McCoy said Thursday in the media center. “I feel I’m in the
right place with the right team and the right opportunity. I’m convinced it
will work out for the best.”
He was married before his first NFL season in Cleveland and now lives in a
condo in Austin, Texas, during the offseason with his new wife, a graduate of
Baylor University. They still attend their college church.
Another Christian player, Dallas Cowboy All-Pro tight end Jason Witten, said
the experience of older spiritual players has made it easier for the young ones
to come along.
“You see some of the older guys like a Kurt Warner and a Jon Kitna set the bar
high for sharing their faith and being up front with what is important to them
and where they are in their faith,” he said.
Witten, who grew up attending First Baptist Church in Elizabethton, Tenn., and
currently attends Valley Ranch Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, said the
ability to share to a wide audience was what he was looking for in the
“I think they’re beginning to see how important it is to have the ability and
the platform to share in the NFL,” said Witten, who played at the University of
Bradford said he felt blessed to have a productive rookie season. He won the league’s
Offensive Rookie of the Year award, which was announced Friday.
“It’s been great this year,” he said. “I’m very excited for the future.”
Before their first NFL season started, the three players were spotlighted in a
unique sports book entitled “Playing for a Purpose,” which chronicled their
rise in faith and in sports, by author Mike Yorkey.
Warner said he has been keeping a close eye on the three Christian rookies this
year, e-mailing and texting McCoy and the others to encourage them in their
faith during the season.
“I’ve been there through that experience. I know what to expect,” Warner said.
Before he became a most unlikely star with the Rams, Warner said he learned
from Christian great Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers. Now, he’s hoping to
show the talented trio what they can do on, and most importantly, off the
“I’m happy to do it because it’s always an honor to talk about Jesus,” Warner
said. “I take inspiration from that and know it will always be awesome.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Stricklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent.)
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