During the fall, Sundays after Church are reserved, among a not insignificant but mostly male portion of Church members in the United States, as a time for enjoying a traditional American pastime—what one commentator described as “violence punctuated by committee meetings.” And the number of Mormons who are paid to participate in these meetings has approached 40 this year.
The pastime is, of course, American football, which may be more popular among Mormons in the U.S. than any other sport. The relative prowess of BYU and the University of Utah over the years has built a steady fan base for the sport, one which seems to have little problem following the games, despite the fact that the professional games are primarily played on Sunday.
But this post isn’t about watching or playing sports on Sunday. [EDIT: because comments have veered of topic and continued to discuss this, after September 2nd any comments that try to discuss sports on Sunday will be removed.] Instead, it is a list of the current players in the NFL who are Mormon. I prepared a similar list earlier this year of Mormons in Major League Baseball, and I have wanted to do the same for other sports, but haven’t found the time to get those lists up to date.
What follows, then, is simply a list of those players who are apparently Mormon (according to the claims I’ve found). I haven’t had time to verify that they are, in fact, Mormon (and in many cases it isn’t really possible to verify this, in any case). No one is claiming that they are active or “good” Mormons. I don’t know! And since I’m more of a baseball fan than a football fan, I don’t even know about the behavior of these players at all.
But, I am interested in hearing about any errors — be they players who are included in error, or players who haven’t been included. My criteria include any player who has been baptized at some point in his life, or who grew up in a Mormon family.
Why have I compiled this? Sports are about affiliation. We often follow the team of our city simply because it is hosted in or city (these days its unlikely that many players on the team are actually from our area!). Many Mormons follow BYU simply because it is owned by the Church. So by providing a list of which players are Mormon, we are simply giving fans another connection to players and teams — and through that another way to enjoy the sport.
So, having gone through the disclaimers, here is the list I’ve compiled of the Mormons currently playing in the NFL. Corrections and further information are appreciated:
- Al Afalava — DB, Colts, Oregon State
- C. J. Ah You — DL, Rams, Oklahoma
- John Beck — QB, Redskins, BYU
- Stewart Bradley — LB, Cardinals, Nebraska
- Kirk Chambers — T, Lions, Stanford
- Austin Collie — WR, Colts, BYU
- Chris Cooley — TE, Redskins, Utah State
- Kevin Curtis — WR, Titans, Utah State
- John Denney — LS, Dolphins, BYU
- Jonathan Fanene — DE, Bengals, Utah
- Aaron Francisco — DB, Lions, BYU
- Max Hall — QB, Cardinals, BYU (currently on Injured Reserve)
- Todd Heap — TE, Cardinals, Arizona State
- Chris Hoke — NT, Steelers, BYU
- Bryan Kehl — LB, Rams, BYU
- Brett Keisel — DE, Steelers, BYU
- Chris Kemoeatu — G, Steelers, Utah (is Kemoeatu Mormon?)
- Paul Kruger — DE, Ravens, Utah
- Spencer Larsen — FB, Broncos, Arizona
- Deuce Lutui — G, Cardinals, USC
- Fili Moala — DT, Colts, USC
- Tony Moeaki — TE, Chiefs, Iowa
- Haloti Ngata — DT, Ravens, Oregon
- David Nixon — LB, Dolphins, BYU
- Dennis Pitta — TE, Ravens, BYU
- Brady Poppinga — LB, Rams, BYU
- Sione Pouha — DT, Jets, Utah
- Dallas Reynolds — C, Eagles, BYU
- Derek Schouman TE, Redskins, Boise State
- Tim Toone — WR, Lions, Weber State
- Manase Tonga — RB, Raiders, BYU
- Harvey Unga — RB, Bears, BYU
- Fui Vakapuna — RB, Bengals, BYU
- Eric Weddle — DB, Chargers, Utah
- Jordan Cameron — TE, Cleveland Browns, USC
- Sione Fua — DT, Carolina Panthers, Stanford
- Stanley Havili — FB, Eagles, USC
- Darrell Bevell — OC, Seattle Seahawks – was Vikings
- Dave Campo — Secondary Coach, Dallas Cowboys
- Andy Reid — HC, Philadelphia Eagles
George F. Will, International Herald Tribune, 7 May 1990. Will’s complete quote is: “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”
FWIW, I think any attempt to find any more meaning beyond this connection is silly. The performance of Mormon sports figures doesn’t mean anything about Mormonism, and while I suspect that at best Mormons in professional sports might gain slightly from following the Word of Wisdom, I’d be surprised if Mormonism had much more effect on their performance than that.