DE Trey Hendrickson thankful for his 'Lord and Savior' as he leads Bengals to Super Bowl

The Cincinnati Bengals know they need defensive end Trey Hendrickson to be at his best if they want to slow down Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams’ high-powered offense in Super Bowl LVI.

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They also know that they likely wouldn’t be in the Super Bowl at all if it weren’t for Hendrickson’s performance throughout the 2021-22 season.

Hendrickson, a third-round pick by New Orleans out of Florida Atlantic in 2017, signed a four-year, $60 million free agent contract with the Bengals last March after a breakout 2020-21 campaign with the Saints (13.5 sacks, 25 QB hits). It has proven to be one of the best offseason moves in the NFL. Hendrickson made his first Pro Bowl this season after recording career highs with 34 combined tackles, three forced fumbles, 27 quarterback hits and a team-leading 14.0 sacks (fifth in the entire NFL).

He’s added another 2.5 sacks and four QB hits in three playoff games this year.

Much of Cincinnati’s defensive improvement this year is due to Hendrickson’s arrival. The Bengals held five opponents to 13 points or fewer in 2021-22 (they never achieved that mark last season, when they were 4-11-1), and they allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the league (29th in that category last year). Lining up against Cincinnati has proven to be a daunting task.

When Hendrickson was named to the Pro Bowl on Dec. 22, his first response was that of gratitude.

“It’s a tremendous achievement,” he told the Dayton Daily News. “I’ve worked very hard for it, but I mean, feel like I’m just really thankful and I give thanks to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. … It’s an emotional experience. You sacrifice a lot to play the game and to get recognition like that means a lot to me.”

Hendrickson is very open about his faith in Christ, often mentioning it on social media. In his Instagram bio, he links to a faith-based humanitarian organization in Cincinnati called Matthew 25: Ministries, and quotes the Bible verse Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Hendrickson married his wife, Alisa, in July of 2020 and then promptly followed that up with the 13.5-sack season with New Orleans in a contract year, which led to his signing with the Bengals. When asked about his ascent in November 2020, he credited God with strengthening him during his difficult first three seasons in the NFL.

“Through adversity, inactive, dealing with injuries, you have to keep that faith,” Hendrickson told WAFB 9 in New Orleans. “… Good things happen when you keep the faith.

“Keep moving forward. You never doubt yourself. For one, everything I do, my wife is behind the scenes doing a great job supporting me. Together it’s faith. I’m telling you, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Everything is coming together off the field, so it’s coming together on it.”

While the Bengals are expected to rely heavily on Hendrickson to frustrate L.A.’s potent offense, Hendrickson knows he can rely on the all-sustaining power of the Lord. Super Bowl LVI is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. ET at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California (the Rams’ home stadium).

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