‘More Than Just Football’: Super Bowl 2024 and 7 Players Who Pray

A look at seven gridiron players who live guided by their faith ahead of Super Bowl 2024.

UNITED IN PRAYER: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) kneels in prayer with teammates and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3) after an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.
UNITED IN PRAYER: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) kneels in prayer with teammates and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3) after an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez / AP )

There’s always a lot of talk about Hail Marys during a football game, especially at the most gripping moments — but as viral moments on social media have shown us recently, prayer is very real on and off the field especially with a growing number of players and coaches in the NFL. 

It was only last year that secular media mentioned the word “miracle” after the nation joined in prayer for Damar Hamlin following his cardiac arrest during a game — only to make a full recovery; a sports broadcaster even stopped his show to gather the guests in prayer. And this year, as millions tune in to watch the big game from Sin City, the prayer app Hallow has announced a halftime Super Bowl ad inviting all to pray.

From kneeling before the game, praying the Lord’s Prayer in the locker room as a team, to scapulars making appearances in game-clinching moments, and quarterbacks clinging to Scripture to stay focused on what matters most, we look at seven gridiron players who live guided by their faith ahead of Super Bowl 2024. 


1. San Francisco 49ers Christian McCaffrey, a lifelong Catholic likes to share his favorite Bible verses on social media and is always known to point toward heaven after scoring a touchdown. His faith formation began early at Catholic elementary school before playing multiple sports at Valor Christian High School in Denver. 

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, McCaffrey said, “My faith is very important to me, and that’s why I’m praying all the time,” adding, “When you have a bunch of people chanting your name, it’s important that you give the honor and glory back to the Person, God, that’s allowing me to do this.”

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) kneels in prayer before an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers defeated the Packers 24-21.(Photo: Kevin Terrell)Kevin Terrell

On media day Monday for the Super Bowl, McCaffrey was asked by Sports Spectrum about his faith and how important is to him. “It means everything to me,” McCaffrey said. 

“My faith has gotten me where I am in life and through all the ups and downs when I rely on God. Anytime I’m having a tough day or having a bad time in my life, I just get back to getting in the Word — it’s got all the answers. So it’s the most important thing in my life and it’s something that I know I’ll always have to lean back on and to make a priority.”


2. Catholic kicker Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs scored the game-winning field goal with 8 seconds remaining, helping his team clinch the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. It was in those brief moments that the world caught a glimpse of a brown scapular, a sacramental Butker always wears around his neck. 

Speaking to CNA, the Register’s sister agency in 2022, Butker spoke openly about his Catholic faith, taking his family to Mass, and the impact the traditional Latin Mass is having on the faithful, including the younger generations. He said it “really entices a lot of young people who are looking for answers. They're looking for happiness. And for me, I found happiness in embracing the faith offered in the Catholic Church.”


Butker's role on the field comes second to his role as a father. Meeting his wife at Westminster High School in Atlanta, he was a tuba player with a girl named Isabelle playing percussion just behind him. His childhood sweetheart is now Mrs. Butker and the two are welcoming their third child into the family.  

 3. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs who is leading his team to the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, has a lot on his mind this week with his own family and looking ahead to the big game. Becoming a Christian while in middle school, the quarterback said, “Faith is huge for me,” during a video with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

For Mahomes, a game never begins before he has knelt and prayed. “Before every game, I walk the field and I do a prayer at the goalpost. I just thank God for those opportunities, and I thank God for letting me be on a stage where I can glorify him.”


 After being named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2019, Mahomes said above all, he just wants to thank God, "because without him, none of this would even be here." 

4. Brock Purdy, quarterback for the 49ers never shies away from sharing his faith with fans and the media. Speaking to Sports Spectrum this week, he pointed to the 23rd Psalm as being a source of inspiration to him as he prepares for the Super Bowl this weekend. "It's easy to get wrapped up in wanting and feeling; wanting to be loved, by your teammates and everybody, like the world and so for me, in that passage it's, talking about: I already have what I need from from the Good Shepherd," Purdy told reporters. "I've just been studying Psalm 23 throughout the whole whole season."

A graduate of Iowa State University, class of 2021, Purdy credits college ministry for helping him in his faith journey. Fueled by Salt Company, a Christian campus ministry, Purdy told reporters, “God is faithful. He’s never done with a story, even when you think he is.”

After leading the Cyclones to more wins than Iowa had ever seen, Purdy couldn't help but be in the spotlight, but he didn't let that get in the way of the ultimate prize in life. “I was reminded what Jesus told us thousands of years ago,” he told NewsNation. “If you try to chase fame, status, money, you’ll lose your life. Keeping your eyes on Jesus and his promises … that’s a life worth living.”

5. C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans was just named a finalist for “Offensive Rookie of the Year,” after throwing 4,108 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns this season. Telling the press he’s “really honored,” Stroud’s faith outshines his finesse on the field, a fact NBC once tried to omit. After the Texans' win against the Cleveland Browns in January, the network spliced out this line from the quarterback's victory speech: "First and foremost, I just want to give all glory and praise to my Lord, Jesus Christ."

But Stroud refused to get upset and stood grounded in his faith, saying:

“I love everybody. Christ has called us to love one another and just shine a light. That comes from Him. I really want to show that love and just want people to experience my experience with finding Christ for you all and having that relationship with Him.”

Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31), quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) and wide receiver Robert Woods (2) kneel in prayer after an injury to wide receiver Tank Dell (3) during an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Houston. (Photo: Ben Swanson/Denver Broncos)Denver Broncos Team

 And his example of faith has been a beacon to many and Stroud has heard from hundreds of men that were moved by his devotion to God. But he is quick to remind his fans: "I’ve had a lot of great people who have reached out, and even guys after games, who just talk about how I mention God and Christ. I always tell people that it’s not me, it’s him. There’s nothing I can do to ever repay what the Lord has done in my life, and I don’t want to, I just want to act in what he’s calling me to do."

6. Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott may still be feeling a little pain from the loss to the 49ers that took him out of Super Bowl contention this year, but Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones has not lost faith in Prescott, and the  quarterback keeps his mind and heart centered on God. 

After suffering a compound ankle fracture that cut his season short a few years ago, the quarterback thanked supporters for their prayers while he was recovering and said he’s “excited for God’s purpose and plan," saying, “My faith is doubled down more than ever and I’m thankful that he’s my Savior and he guides me in life.”


Prescott has dealt with tremendous grief in his life after his own mother died of cancer in 2013. He lost his brother to suicide in 2020. Understanding the need for openness and transparency when it comes to depression, he takes opportunities to share his message of what's he learned about loss and the importance of faith to others. Speaking at the No Excuses Mens' Conference in 2023, he told reporters about his favorite Bible verses and why staying focused on Christ is key to success. 


7. Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans keeps his reliance on God no matter what life throws his way. During an interview on the Sports Spectrum podcast, Tannehill said, “I’ve always kind of viewed the locker room as my mission field. Wherever God calls you, that’s where God calls you to be a missionary for God and impact the lives around you.”

And the opportunity for evangelization is always at the front of this quarterback’s mind. “Guys are watching and listening to how you walk daily,” so he “always [tries] to be conscious of that and reflect God’s light and shine into the paths of everyone around me.”

And as we gather on Feb. 11, Super Bowl Sunday, with our families after a morning of Mass and prayer, dipping chips and discussing plays, criticizing commercials and and the halftime show, may we all lean into our prayer life more deeply and make sure everyone knows we, too, are on God’s team.