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Tim Tebow and the 10 Most Religious Players in NFL History

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIJanuary 16, 2012

Tim Tebow and the 10 Most Religious Players in NFL History

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    Religion and sports have always been a talking point surrounding the NFL, but not until the arrival of Tim Tebow did it carry this much steam.

    While Tebow is a great story and has become a great role model for kids today, he’s not the first and certainly not the only NFL personality to be grounded in his faith.

    In no particular order, here’s a look at 10 former and current NFL players, including Tim Tebow, who weren't afraid to express their beliefs in faith and religion on and off the football field. 

Kurt Warner

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    Kurt Warner is a former Super Bowl-winning NFL quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals.

    He and his wife Brenda are both devout evangelical Christians, too.

    Kurt is most famous for his encounter with Mike Tirico following Super Bowl XXXIV, where he responded to a Tirico question with, “Well, first things first, I’ve got to thank my Lord and Savior up above—thank you, Jesus!”

    Warner is one of the great stories about making something from nothing in NFL history. 

Reggie White

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    Reggie White is one of the most famous football players in NFL history. He’s also one of the most respected men in league history.

    The late, great White was a well-documented Christian and most fittingly nicknamed “The Minister of Defense” because of his on-field work on defense and his off-the-field work as a dedicated evangelical minister.

    When Reggie White passed away in 2004, he left behind a legacy as one of the most selfless, gracious athletes of our time.

Joe Gibbs

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    Joe Gibbs is a NASCAR team owner and former head coach of the Washington Redskins, and he and his wife are also devout Christians.

    Most remember Gibbs for his endorsement of Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention, stating that the duo’s election would spark a spiritual awakening.

    Joe Gibbs is now retired from the NFL. 

Shaun Alexander

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    Most people remember Shaun Alexander for his dominant years during the mid-2000’s with Seattle and his MVP award in the 2005 season.

    Most don’t realize that Alexander is a devout follower of Jesus Christ.

    He often refers to himself as a man of God that happens to play football and not a football player who believes in God.

    Since his retirement, Alexander has been following the call of the Lord by spreading His word to those less fortunate. 

Hunter Smith

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    Hunter Smith is the former punter of the Indianapolis Colts—that’s your first fact on this guy.

    He’s also a member of the Christian rock band Connersvine.

    Being an NFL punter isn’t the most glorifying job in the league, but Smith dedicates his talents to the Lord and is known to go on tour during the offseason.

    Smith is currently a free agent and devotes his full-time work to his band and honoring God. 

Tony Dungy

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    Tony Dungy is a man of God, even if he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. The former coach of the Colts is known best for his guidance and support as a mentor for troubled athletes and youths.

    Former President George W. Bush also appointed him to the President’s Faith Council in 2007, a very prestigious honor.

    Today, Dungy is an author and an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America, but he still continues his work as a mentor for troubled players, including the much-maligned Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress

    Tony Dungy is one of the great role-models in sports today.

Steve Young

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    The former San Francisco 49er and BYU Cougar has one very distinct lineage.

    Steve Young is the great-great-great grandson of the actual Brigham Young. Brigham Young was the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the person that the school, BYU, is named after.

    Young also works as a devout philanthropist and formed his own foundation in 1993 called the Forever Young Foundation; it provides academic and athletic opportunities to those less fortunate. 

Deion Sanders

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    “Neon” Deion Sanders is one of the most recognized personalities in NFL history for his vibrant interviews and showboat personality on the field.

    Well, Deion has always stood by the fact that he’s had all the luxury but never truly had anything until he found God.

    During his career, Sanders took up counseling with a Bishop in order to separate himself from the secular world and become more devoted to God.

    Today, “Neon” Deion works in mentoring troubled youths and providing a positive role-model for those to look up to. 

Tim Tebow

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    No need for much of a explanation.

    Tim Tebow, right now, is the only current NFL player on this list, and we’re all witnesses to his love for Jesus Christ.

    Tebow’s parents were both missionaries serving in the Philippines when Tim was born, and now he returns there for mission work during the offseason.

    Part of what makes Tim Tebow so polarizing is his religion; nobody wears their emotions on their sleeve more than Tebow.

    Ever since "Tebow-mania" really took off this season, Tim Tebow has become the poster child for religion in sports.  

Philip Rivers

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    We all see Philip Rivers on the field and speak about his fiery attitude—and sometimes about how annoying he is.

    Aside from his pro football career, Rivers and his wife Tiffany are hardcore Catholics.

    Rivers runs a charity that benefits orphans and foster kids, and he regularly uses it as a launching point to speak about his beliefs.

    His most notable beliefs are regarding spirituality and premarital sex.

    You may not have known this, but like Tebow, Rivers remained a virgin until his marriage in 2001. He now has six children. 

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