Summer 2024

Vikings’ Sam Bradford: God has been ‘the one constant in my life’

If any professional athlete knows the importance of trusting God’s plan rather than his own, it’s Sam Bradford.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the former Heisman Trophy winner’s belssings. A $78 million contract upon entering the NFL. Starting jobs with three different teams despite a resume dented by injuries.

But Bradford has also undergone unexpected transitions like no other, enduring back-to-back ACL tears and two trades in as many seasons, including one just eight days prior to the start of the 2016 campaign. Amid the chaotic chapters of his career, not to mention the persistent voice of critics who feast on such material, the Vikings quarterback has found rest not in paychecks, big numbers or fan approval, but in divine guidance.

As he told me in a piece for CBS Sports, Bradford has been putting God first since his riotous days in the NFL began:

Much like Carson Wentz, his Philadelphia successor whose brand has virtually become synonymous with his Christian beliefs, Bradford says his every triumph, every failure and every outside opinion those highs and lows inspire are drowned out by a faith instilled by his family. It was first publicly on display in college, when he was a star in “I Am Second,” a video series about celebs putting God first, and talked about reading the story of David and Goliath on game days. Now, headlined by a low-key attitude, perhaps considered annoyingly nonchalant by skeptics, it is showcased through a trust in a plan far more unpredictable than his own.

“St. Louis, I obviously went through some pretty tough times with the injury, and then to go to Philadelphia and then to end up in Minnesota, a lot of things came at me that were a little bit unexpected,” he said. “I think it’s just a great lesson in having faith and having trust and understanding that sometimes, what we think our plans should be doesn’t always align with what God’s plan for us actually is. That’s when you have to push aside your pride … by allowing Him to take control of our lives, it really reduces a lot of our own stress.”

Here is more from Bradford on the faith that drives his everyday life on and off the football field:

On whether faith has been even more important during his unpredictable NFL journey: “I think that’s the one constant in my life, and it has been for the past eight years while I’ve been in this league. Through all of that, the Lord has always been there, He’s someone I can talk to every day, someone that I can lean on (and) just trust that with His guidance. I am in the right place, I am doing His will and then, when you know that, you can kind of rest easy at night because you understand that His plan is perfect — all you’ve got to do is trust it.”
On whether he still reads David and Goliath before every game: “I switch it up now a little bit, but every now and then, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll go back and read that. But that story to me, it just proves when you put your trust in the Lord, you can overcome whatever’s in front of you. And that’s one of the reasons I used to read that on game days, just knowing that when I was taking the field, He was on the field with me.”
On how his faith has helped him appreciate his career: “After going through my two ACLs, you understand this game can be taken from you at any time. So every day that you get on the field, it’s a blessing to be able to come out here and just to have fun and practice.”
On his parents’ role in shaping his relationship with God: “My dad coached me in every sport growing up, and as I got older, I think he realized the pressure was building, and obviously there’s some different stressors in life as you get older … but regardless of what level you’re playing at, you can always turn to the Lord. (My dad) always made sure that I understood that … I realized that whatever I was going through, there was someone there that I could talk to, that would guide me.”