Christian Quarterbacks and the 2018 College Football Playoff

Today’s College Football Playoff features four of the nation’s most heralded quarterbacks: Tua Tagovailoa of the University of Alabama, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson University, Ian Book of Notre Dame, and Kyler Murray of the University of Oklahoma. There is a good chance that, when the dust settles and a champion is crowned, one of these young men will be thanking God on national television.

That’s exactly what happened last year when Tagovailoa brought yet another national title to Tuscaloosa. Tagovailoa, who wears cross-shaped eye black in each game, is famously outspoken about his faith.  After he, as a true freshman and halftime substitute for the struggling Jalen Hurts, led his team to a dramatic overtime victory over the University of Georgia, Tagovailoa went out of his way to publicly thank Jesus in his post-game interview:

First and foremost, I’d just like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With him, all things are possible. That’s what happened tonight.

Earlier this month, Tagovailoa went down with an injury against the University of Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.  He was replaced at the quarterback position by former starter Jalen Hurts. Hurts led the Crimson Tide to yet another comeback victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. Like Tagovailoa before him, Hurts made it a point to recognize God in his postgame interview. His fate, Hurts said, had been in “God’s hands” all along.

Tagovailoa and Hurts are the odds-on favorites to repeat as national champions. If they don’t, however, another quarterback may be thanking God on the big stage. Kyler Murray, who edged out Tagovailoa to win the Heisman Trophy, will face Alabama on the field in the 1st Round of the Playoffs. Murray’s church affiliation is not widely known but he did thank God in his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. Ian Book of Notre Dame is the longest shot to win the title. His church affiliation is also not widely known but Notre Dame is a Roman Catholic University. The school’s campus famously features a giant mural known as “Touchdown Jesus” which overlooks its football field.  

Of all the quarterbacks who may be thanking God during a national title on January 7th, Trevor Lawrence has the best shot to do the same on NFL Sundays. Clemson’s true freshman quarterback is a sure-fire 1st round draft pick. He gives the Tigers an excellent chance to avenge last year’s playoff loss to Jalen Hurts and the Crimson Tide. Like Tagovailoa Lawrence is outspoken about his faith.

Lawrence has been clear that, despite his national fame as am elite NFL prospect, his “identity is in Christ”.

The Cartersville native is a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church, a southern Baptist congregation which proclaims the gospel and adheres to biblical innerancy. To contrast, Tagovailoa is a member of Message of Peace Church in Ewa Beach, Hawaii which is a member of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ . The United Church of Christ is notoriously liberal and has endorsed homosexual marriage rights and acted to protect “access to abortion” as a matter of “reproductive justice.” According to a pew research survey, 46% of United Church members don’t believe in Hell. Despite his public displays of Christian faith, Tagovailoa’s church is undeniably apostate. The same can be said for the Roman Catholic Church of the University Notre Dame. Though it is socially conservative with regard to sexuality and the sanctity of life, it proclaims a false gospel of works.

Tua Tagovailoa
It’s not uncommon for Christian observers to become enamored with athletes or other celebrities who proclaim the name of Jesus in public forums. Given the religious diversity of the visible church, God’s people should be wary of accepting any public figure who mentions the name of Jesus as a brother.

The truth is that many of these public figures are being dangerously misled by apostate churches and are in need of fervent prayer and a true Christian witness. Thank God for churches like that of Lawrence where the gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the Bible is reverently respected as God’s inerrant word.

As a reminder, the gospel is the story of the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus came according to the scriptures and died a substitutionary death on the cross to atone for sin. All who repent of their sins and trust in the risen Lord for forgiveness will be saved, through faith by grace and not of works, from the wrath of God. All who do not will suffer an eternity in Hell.

As football season comes to a close and Christian football fans celebrate hard-fought championships and lament crushing defeats, they need to remember the primacy of the gospel and the Kingdom of God. When the lights dim and last year’s champions are forgotten, Christians should remain faithful to proclaiming the gospel with more regularity than they proclaim the greatness of their favorite teams and players.

Former Texas Longhorns quarterback nation championship runner up Colt McCoy, provides a good perspective:

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.


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