Three-Fourths of NFL Starting Quarterbacks Are Evangelical Christians

Football is a sport that has clear religious connections, from the Hail Mary pass to Touchdown Jesus to the Immaculate Reception. The likely permanent exit from the league of the NFL’s most famous Christian, Tim Tebow, left me wondering how many other quarterbacks have expressed their Christian faith in overt terms. The answer was eye-opening: based on my research, 24 out of 32 starting NFL quarterbacks (75 percent) are evangelical Christians.

In some ways, the results are not surprising at all, as we’ve become accustomed to football stars hoisting trophies and announcing, “First of all I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” “Muscular Christianity” has a long history in this country, manifesting itself through organizations like the YMCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the National Association of Christian Athletes. American Christianity has always had a masculinity problem, with fears that identification with “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild,” will turn otherwise virile males into wispy Victorian Jesus-worshipping nancy boys. Hence the almost obsessive focus in some Christian circles on a strong body being paired with a strong faith.

I have an additional link to share.

Ethnic minorities that are more heavily Catholic (or heavily anything besides Protestant Christian, for that matter) are extremely, extremely, overwhelmingly underrepresented in the NFL. Across the entire roster, just over 1% of NFL players are either Hispanic or Asian. Two thirds of NFL players are black, and just about all of them are either Protestant or unaffiliated.

Even among quarterbacks, where 82% of them are white, that still leaves almost 20% that’s black, and in effect, therefore not Catholic. Moreover, the stats you’re specifically looking at pertain to NFL starting quarterbacks, and 8 out of those 32 are black, which is exactly one-third. You don’t really expect any of those men to be Catholic, do you? You’d expect them to be either non-religious, Evangelical, or some form of nominal Protestant.

That leaves 24 white guys, and in order to arrive at 75%, you don’t need numbers that are truly staggering. Taken together, you’re looking at a teeny-tiny 32-person population sample that includes white Americans, black Americans, and no one else. Of course there’s very few Catholics and not much of anything else besides your non-affiliated people.

I do have an additional comment about FCA in particular and non-denominational Christian athletic organizations in general. FCA, at its inception, was strictly done in particularly challenging urban settings where churches are few and far between, where open expression of religious identity was and sometimes still is a dangerous thing, where a high school guy who stays a virgin past the age of 15 is presumed gay, especially if he’s a good athlete who can basically do what he wants. FCA originally set itself up strictly in these places in order to bring Christian athletes together and set up a support system between each other and between coaches and teachers, just so they could be Christians in a secular setting and have room to breathe, so they could not feel alone and vulnerable.

These little setups in different schools led to leadership training programs and, significantly, sports camps that were open to suburban kids right along with urban kids. It didn’t take very long to figure out that the problems being faced by urban Christians at public schools were in large part similar to the problems faced by white kids in the suburbs. Granted, there were more churches in the suburbs and the struggle was a little less intense and a little less real, but a lot of it was basically the same. So now FCA is getting involved at all sorts of high schools and colleges too.

The main point is that it’s an organization that is very effective at what it does- those networks do help a lot, and it does what it’s supposed to. It effectively combats the pressures and stigma that would otherwise be fairly overwhelming for Christian athletes in a secular non-religious setting.

So basically, I don’t know why you have to go out of your way to be critical of these types of organizations. You completely bypass their stated goals and the things they’re actually doing so that you can fabricate some insidious secret goals. The only thing I can think of is the biggest thing I see immediately in front of me- 75% of starting QBs in the NFL are Evangelical Protestants, this upsets you, and it causes you to say some things that are a little unreasonable. That’s all I can come up with so far.

it’s too late to edit, but 8 out of 32 is exactly one-quarter, not one-third.

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