It’s Super Bowl season!
Football fans are familiar with the phrase “Hail Mary” when it comes to impossible passes and touchdowns in the end zone, but where else in the NFL do we see love for the Blessed Mother?
CatholicVote has compiled a list of some of the most memorable and faithful Catholic football stars and coaches that will leave you saying “Amen!”
Harrison Butker is a kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs and is known for his love of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and wearing a Carmelite Scapular while on the field.
“I want to be a saint. And that’s the most important thing, and that’s why I’m here on this earth,” Butker has said.
Butker scored the winning kick in 2023 for the Kansas City Chiefs and also appeared on the field in 2020 for Super Bowl LIV. Can he do it again this year?
Over his career, Matt Birk played center for both the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens, with whom he won Superbowl XLVII in 2013.
Following the birth of his first child, Birk felt a calling to the pro-life movement and has become a tireless advocate for the unborn and their mothers. In 2011, he was invited to speak at the Maryland March for Life, which helped kick-start his future in a career dedicated to pro-life activism.
In speaking to the Catholic Review about the pro-life movement Birk said:
“Light always triumphs darkness… It’s a beautiful thing and just proof that God wins in the end.”
Birk retired in 2013 and in 2019 founded Unity Catholic School in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Tom Coughlin was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants – and led the Giants to victory in Super Bowls XLII (2007) and XLVI (2012).
Coughlin received a rigorous Catholic education from St. Joseph nuns at St. Mary’s School in Waterloo, New York. The Irishman is known for his tenacity on and off the field and for inspiring his players to play for one another and a higher purpose.
Coughlin is often cited as crediting his faith to being akin to a process, much like his road to victory: “I learned and grew along the way. It’s cumulative.”
Regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, Brett Favre earned his place in the NFL Hall of Fame. Favre won Superbowl XXXI (1997) as the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback.
Favre’s personal life as a Catholic has resonated with thousands. Although dogged by struggles with addiction, relationship struggles, cancer, and family tragedies, Favre continued to lean on his faith and his wife to endure.
Favre’s wife Deanna is only the second wife in the history of the NFL to induct her husband into the NFL Hall of Fame. Deanna and Brett both credit their faith as being their foundation.
“I just feel like, with faith, it helps me see the good in everything. … I thank God all of the time that I have faith because I don’t understand what people would do without faith,”
Deanna has said.
Vince Lombardi is widely regarded as one of the greatest football coaches ever. The Super Bowl Lombardi trophy is named after this devout Italian-American Catholic.
Lombardi was head coach of the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. During his tenure with the Packers Lombardi brought the team in for two consecutive Super Bowl victories in 1967 and 1968. Lombardi also led Green Bay to several other Super Bowl appearances, which would eventually amount to five Super Bowl wins in seven years for the team.
During his time in the NFL, Lombardi often drew upon his faith for strength. Lombardi is also known for having attended daily Mass throughout his life and during his career in the NFL.
Lombardi’s love of Christ led him to victory on and off the field and reinforced the importance of faith in his team and the NFL.
Dave Casper, Oakland Raiders
Chris Godfrey, NY Giants
Mark Bavaro, NY Giants
Ricky Nattiel, Denver Broncos
Joe Jurevicus, NY Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins
Ed McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos
Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles
Ecumenical Mention: Our Orthodox Brethren
This NFL Hall of Fame MVP revolutionized the complex interplay of faith and football. Polamalu played safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2003 to 2014. With two rings for Superbowls XL and XLIII (2006 and 2009), an MVP title, and four All-Pro awards, Polamalu’s passion on the field was rivaled by his passion for his Orthodox faith.
After much searching, Polamalu and his wife converted to Greek Orthodoxy. Polamalu is noted by his former teammates as “a man apart,” due to his dedication to Christ. This NFL pro often spent time drawing on his Somoan roots and desired to be a “valiant Christian warrior.”
“I try to serve God, through football, with passion.”
Don’t see your favorite on our list? Let us know in the comments below!