If you haven’t heard about these guys, you’re missing out on a hope-filled, faith-fueled journey that will inspire and uplift. Check them out! Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and the band of Christian brothers on the Philadelphia Eagles team openly live their Christian faith and are causing others to take notice.
Note: This post was originally researched and published in October 2017 before Carson Wentz was injured. At the time, Nick Foles was “just” the backup quarterback, so the evidence of his faith and character was simply grouped into the “band of brothers” undercurrent in this article. Now that he’s in the spotlight and leading where Carson left off, we continue to see the strength of his desire to give God glory and retain the humility that comes from acknowledging he’s there by the grace of God.
After more than four decades as Texans, my husband and I moved to a Philadelphia suburb. It takes only the simple introduction of our names before people ask, “Where are you from?” They know it’s not from “here.” When they find out where “there” is, the predictable second question is this: “Are you Dallas Cowboys fans?”
That’s because we now live in the middle of Eagle country — a long-standing rival of the Cowboys. Even the senior pastor of our new church asked us right away about our allegiance. He gave us a “pass” since we were, after all, from Texas.
But now my husband has a new answer that doesn’t need the Texas pass. It goes like this: “Well, I used to be, but I’m following the Eagles now and let me tell you why …”
Carson Wentz & his band of brothers
The “why” has to do with a band of Eagle brothers who are living for an Audience of One: Jesus Christ. At the center is quarterback Carson Wentz, who brought his #AO1 life motto with him when he was drafted in 2016.
He kinda had to; it’s tattooed on his wrist:
“It was kind of a motto I picked up early in my career, and I finally put it on my body just to live with Jesus as my audience. Whether it is playing football, going to school or whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it for the Lord as my audience.”
He’s even established a foundation by the same name with the mission to “demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.”
As the buzz for MVP surrounds Carson, most of the faith spotlight falls on him as well. But this is not a one-man show. There’s a sizeable contingent of Philadelphia players who stand for their Christian beliefs, regularly praying and studying the Bible together.
However, going into the draft last year, he wasn’t certain where he would land. During a sermon in Fargo, North Dakota, he told the audience he worried about finding a community of like-minded teammates. He addressed that worry by praying specifically to be placed with a team where he could grow closer to God.
In Carson’s own words: “God came through BIG time!” He referenced Hebrews 10:24-25 in describing this group of teammates: “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
There were a few believers already in place when he got to the Eagles and others have joined the group since Carson arrived.
The brotherhood includes players like tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey Burton, offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, linebackers Jordan Hicks and Kamu Grugier-Hill, safety Chris Maragos, as well as wide receiver Torrey Smith and backup quarterback Nick Foles.
Many of these guys came together to create a 15-day devotional series for YouVersion. The theme? Humility and Surrender. (Full series here)
- Zach talks specifically about his new marriage and building a foundation on Christ, launching the short commentary by reading from Luke 6 about the wise builder (view here).
- Trey describes his journey of faith and the importance of seeking God with all his heart (view here).
- Chris launches into full-on teacher mode, describing the Old Testament context for Psalm 91 and why the concept of God as his refuge is near and dear to his heart in a world full of oppression and a life filled with abrasion. (view here)
- Nick speaks on Phil. 4:13 — and in the full context of the passage — something you rarely hear when this verse is used:
Just recently they added a new brother, wide receiver Marcus Johnson. He tweeted out a photo of his baptism in the hotel swimming pool before the game against the Panthers on Oct. 12.
First time being Baptized! Corporate Worship is a beautiful thing!! Cleansed & Reborn in JESUS name!!📢🙏🏾 #WholeHeartedly pic.twitter.com/QtOj2FyRMu
— Marcus D. Johnson📢 (@Mojomdj) October 12, 2017
An even newer “convert”
Those who know me can testify that NFL is not my thing. Through the years, my husband learned to tell me background stories about the players to get me to sit with him through even one quarter of a game.
But this season is different. Now, I sit beside him and recount the stories I’ve read about the faith and fruit of these men.
Maybe it’s because Carson is the same age as our son.
Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my life teaching the (now) Millennials that God chooses and uses young people.
Most likely, it’s because I’m watching God use a small unified army of light against a backdrop of darkness and division. And he is getting the glory.
Jordan Hicks told a reporter:
“We play to honor Jesus Christ. That’s what we play for. It takes [the pressure] off our shoulders. Honestly, it makes us play harder in a sense, just understanding the humbling fact that it’s not about us, it’s about him, and glorifying his name.”
Looking different & Making a difference
Carson posted a screenshot of Exodus 24 on Instagram and commented:
“When we are in close communion with God, our face and everything about us should look different– we should display God’s glory like Moses did.”
That’s just what is happening in this Eagles’ nest. They are walking with Jesus and it shows. And they are using the platform they’ve been given for the time it is on loan to them. And younger guys are taking note.
ESPN ran a story of how Carson fulfilled the dying wish of an 8-year-old cancer patient who had previously dominated his own youth football field. In our area, it was all over the news. If you haven’t heard, watch or read here:
An eternal perspective
When I watch the Eagles, I hear big name sports reporters mention Carson’s faith with glowing commentary for how he walks the talk. It’s not just a generic ‘god’ the broadcasters mention; they speak the name of Jesus as the foundation of this faith. It gives me chill bumps.
That’s not to say he’s never been criticized for his openness about Jesus. He handles that with the same grace and strength as all the rest, noting that Christ was nailed to a cross and Paul went to jail for talking about Jesus. To that he adds, “So I can stand a few negative tweets.” (Source: 55:00)
His eternal perspective also informs that stance.
“At the end of the day, it’s all for nothing. It’s all going to be fleeting. We’re all going to leave this Earth at some time, and we can’t take it with us.”
Carson can be heard telling his teammates “One more time is all we’re guaranteed” on this mic’d up video. And he says he ends the day asking, “What have I done for the kingdom today?”
Come to think of it … that’s a good question for all of us to contemplate as we turn in for the night.
If you’re looking for a hope-filled story, need modern-day role models for your child, or just want to be reminded that God works all things for his glory (even football), keep an eye out for these guys. They’ll be the ones soaring on wings of Eagles — and not just because they currently top the NFC East (ahead of the, ahem, Cowboys).
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“Your light was made for this darkness.“
What a FABULOUS story of kingdom-work in a most unlikely place! God is so creative :) This is such a humbling reminder that He is at work in our world in many places that we can miss, if we are not tuned to hearing His Spirit at work. Thank you so much for posting this bright light!
Inspiring! In a world of fading lights, division, and fear, it’s so encouraging to hear of faith like these men have. Thank you for sharing their story.
Oh, dear friend. Your encouraging words are always like honey to me. Thanks for your regular dose of sweetness in my life!