Winter 2022

Elliss brothers Christian and Kaden aim to 'bring glory to Jesus' during NFL journey

Brothers Christian and Kaden Elliss are used to being on the same football field. They played together in high school and at the University of Idaho. On Sunday, they found themselves on the same field again.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

This time, they were on opposite sidelines as Kaden’s New Orleans Saints beat Christian’s Philadelphia Eagles, 20-10. Kaden recorded 1.5 sacks, five total tackles and forced a fumble while Christian saw action on special teams.

Christian and Kaden are two of 12 siblings, seven of whom are adopted. A third brother, Noah, is currently on the Eagles’ non-football injury list.

Unfortunately, their father, Luther, was unable to see his sons face off against each other for the first time in the NFL. As the defensive tackles coach at the University of Utah, he was in Los Angeles preparing for Monday’s Rose Bowl.

Utah is where Luther starred as an All-American before being picked by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. He later made two Pro Bowl appearances, spent 10 years in the NFL, then served as the Denver Broncos’ team chaplain for two seasons before joining Idaho’s coaching staff.

Throughout his career, Luther made faith a foundational part of the Elliss family, helping his kids develop strong relationships with Christ.

“For us, as a family, we are followers of Christ, we’re Christians and we’re people who believe in Jesus,” Luther recently told Nola.com. “Not everything goes the way you plan it or the way you think it should go typically. Majority of us, we have a plan. But His plan is the ultimate plan. We got to trust in that.”

Kaden was a seventh-round pick by the Saints in 2019. A torn ACL in Week 3 ended his rookie season, and he was primarily used on special teams the past two years. He’s played a much larger role on defense this season and hasn’t missed a game, ranking second on the team in sacks (7.0) and fourth in tackles (76). His faith never wavered while he waited for his opportunity.

“I worked hard,” Kaden told Nola.com. “God’s just allowing me to reap some reward right now.”

Christian went undrafted in 2021 and has found a home in Philadelphia this season. Originally a member of the practice squad, he was elevated to the 53-man roster in December and has played in five games.

Kaden has been an invaluable resource for Christian both on and off the field.

“It’s always been football with us and Kaden is a role model for me as a father, a husband,” Christian told the Eagles’ website before Sunday’s game. “His faith in God is second to none. His love for his family is something I look up to. His game, the way we work in the offseason, it’s just so good to see him balling out and having a good year. He’s taught me so much about the league and how to prepare to be at my best.”

Christian credits Kaden with helping him remember the hope they have in God as they both navigate life as NFL players.

“Kaden has always kept me in a good mindset — God has a plan for me, God hasn’t abandoned me,” Christian said. “That’s the mindset we’ve had. As for me and my house, ‘We shall serve the Lord and God will prepare a table for us.'”

The Saints (7-9) will finish their season when they host the Carolina Panthers (6-10) at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Christian and the Eagles (13-3) can clinch the NFC East division and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win over the New York Giants (9-6-1) on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

“I want to do every single thing I can to help this football team and to bring glory to Jesus and do what I can to help make this team successful,” Christian said. “I feel confident in what I’m doing, but you never know in this league. Things change. I want to be productive every time I’m out there.”

RELATED STORIES:
Prayers flood in for Damar Hamlin after Bills safety collapses on field
WR Mike Evans thanks God after record day helps Buccaneers clinch division
SS PODCAST: Cowboys long snapper Matt Overton on faith, always staying ready
Kirk Cousins gets words of wisdom from Frank Reich after NFL’s greatest comeback
Broncos safety Justin Simmons joins elite company as he plays for God’s glory