When the Philadelphia Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, thousands of fans will wear forest green and white hoping to cheer the Eagles to Super Bowl LII. Muddled in the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field will be Julie Ertz, the 2017 US Women’s Soccer Player of the Year, cheering on her husband, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
The two were profiled by Sports Illustrated on game day as the Eagles took on the Chicago Bears in a 2017 week 12 matchup. Philadelphia would go on to rout the Bears 31-3 as Zach had 10 catches, a touchdown reception and his only 100 yard receiving game of the season. But the piece gave an inside look into the lives of arguably the NFL’s most athletic couple.
Hours before kickoff, Julie is at their high-rise apartment siting under the wooden sign with the message, “All I need today is a little bit of COFFEE and JESUS.” On the morning of gameday she speaks to Zach on FaceTime as he’s in the team hotel. After the two talk for a bit, Julie prepares to go to church with Zach’s mom, Lisa.
“I’m just so proud of Zach,” Lisa says to Sports Illustrated. “Being an athlete myself, I see all the hard work I do in my sports, so it’s really cool to see your spouse doing it too. It’s really cool to be a part of his career. It’s a really unique experience. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
Julie and Lisa exchange hugs and high fives with their neighbors at the asking of Pastor Kyle Horner, of The Connect Church in New Jersey. The Christian faith is the foundation for the Ertz’s who met several years earlier at a baseball game at Stanford University.
Zach admits that his performance on the field used to dictate how he went along with his faith. But his teammates helped him in his area of weakness.
“I think being on a team like this, there’s a lot of believers and guys that have been able to help me along the way,” Zach said on a video by Eastern University. “Two years ago I was a completely different person. I would go up and down depending on how my football performance was. Whereas now, I’m kind of just even keeled and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that my mindset of being this way in my faith has led to probably my best year in the NFL.”
On the season, Zach scored a career-high eight touchdowns and was elected to his first pro bowl. Now he looks to use his platform to tell others about his faith in Christ.
“Being able to go out there and preach the Word … I think it’s an honor to be able to do that in this platform.” Zach said.
For more on the Ertz’s game day experience, check out Sports Illustrated’s video below.