UCLA draftee is the NFL’s only open atheist in a traditionally religious sport

In a piece for TIME Magazine back in 2014, Mark Edmunson talked about the role religion played in football when he was growing up. “…we knelt down before every contest,” he wrote. “The coach asked God and the Lord Jesus Christ to help us play a fair game, not do significant bodily harm to the opposition and not to sustain serious injury ourselves. The coach asked that we might win the game if we were deserving. Then we said a prayer: usually it was the ‘Our Father.’ Football, it seemed, was a Christian game.”

Things haven’t changed much in that regard. Religiosity is still a huge part of football. Praying before games is still a regular thing. Players pointing skyward to the heavens after a touchdown is a common occurrence.

“Football is a game beloved by conservatives,” Edmunson continued. “Conservatives love football; conservatives love faith. What more is there to say?”

That being said, it will be interesting to see how former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen will react to the faithful in football. Rosen was just drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, and he is an avowed atheist. He may now be the only open atheist in the NFL. But his lack of religion could be a liability for him when it comes to those lucrative endorsement deals.

“Being open about his atheism may scare off some companies who wish to align themselves with more vanilla, easily marketable athletes less likely to offend the religious population,” Gabe Kapler wrote for Fox Sports four years ago.

Rosen’s lack of faith in an omnipotent being is coupled with his unashamed dislike for Trump. In 2016, he made headlines when played golf at California’s Trump National Golf Club while wearing a hat that said, “Fuck Trump.”

From the Friendly Atheist’s Hement Mehta:

At the same time, Rosen is also noteworthy for being a Jewish quarterback, another rarity. While he isn’t religious, His father is Jewish and Rosen has been the subject of anti-Semitic slurs on the field.

His faith background is, in any case, uncommon in the NFL. In a league where people like Tim Tebow are known as much for their faith as for their abilities, and every team has an official chaplain, it’s an open question as to how he’ll be received.

Either way, more people should give their hard work and dedication all the credit for their athletic success rather than giving it to Jesus.

Featured image via screen grab/YouTube

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.