ATLANTA — Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold has spent his entire nine-year career with the Rams, as he was drafted by St. Louis in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft and moved with the team to Los Angeles in 2016. Their 13-3 season this year marked the best during Saffold’s tenure, and the franchise’s best since 2001, when the Rams finished 14-2. L.A. faces New England in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday
This season has also been the best for the 30-year-old Saffold personally. With help from the Rams’ team chaplain, Kevin Nickerson, Saffold says he has grown closer to God.
“I think my relationship with Christ has been as close as it’s ever been,” Saffold said Thursday during the team’s Super Bowl media session. “I’ve been definitely doing the daily things in order to get that right. I feel like having that close relationship takes the pressure off a lot of the stresses you have in daily life. I’ve been able to go through this entire season with just a different joy and a different energy around me and it’s allowed me to be successful.”
His relationship with the Lord grew to the point that he took the step to get baptized a few weeks ago. A group of Rams meet weekly for a couples Bible study, and after one such meeting, Saffold and his wife, Asia, were baptized in punter Johnny Hekker’s backyard pool.
Sports Spectrum asked Saffold about that night.
“We were talking about it for almost two years and we were trying to figure out a right time, and we came to the realization that there wasn’t going to be a good time. So we just pretty much set a day and we’ve been working together [as I’ve gotten] closer in my path with Christ. We knew this was the next step, it was the next step I decided on my own to do just with my faith,” Saffold said.
He also mentioned that it was a big step to become the man he wants to be at home.
“As the man of your household you’re supposed to be the spiritual leader at home, so for me to be able to take my wife on that and get her to feel confident enough to do that was a huge step in the right direction for me and my family,” he said.
Hekker said he was happy to provide his pool once he heard Nickerson wanted to offer the chance for players to get baptized.
“It was incredible,” Hekker said Thursday. “I think our team chaplain Kevin has done a great job of providing us an opportunity to get deeper in our faith in a real genuine way. We just come together with couples, celebrate marriage, celebrate that union that God blessed us with. And when [Kevin] opened up the invitation and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have baptisms,’ I said, ‘We have a pool, it’s got a heater, we could have it here.’
“It was a deal where Rodger and Asia were looking forward to that moment for a long time. To have it done in my backyard was pretty special, something I’ll never forget. The declaration that they made to come together and live life for God with each other and to have [Christ] at the center of their marriage, just letting Him lead them together, is very powerful. It was an awesome moment to be a part of.”
A big difference this season for Saffold, he said, was spending time in the Bible. The words he’s reading have sunk in more than ever.
“Of course it’s nice to listen to people, it’s nice to listen to your chaplain or your pastor, but you start to really be able to personalize everything once you read it yourself,” he said. “And through doing that, it’s been a lot easier for me to just walk that narrow path.”
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