Sights Set On Heaven

In Articles, Culture, Sports, Stories by Carter Brooks

Rams Stars Grounded In Faith

Since moving back to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 2016, the Rams have found much success. Coming up one game shy of a Super Bowl championship in 2018-19, Los Angeles has built its consistency around a highly-talented offence and a strong faith base amongst its star players, all the while relying on the game’s youngest Head Coach to call the right play signals.

Leading the way for the offensive juggernaut Rams is play-caller Sean McVay, Pro-Bowl running back Todd Gurley, No. 1 wideout Brandin Cooks, up-and-coming slot receiver Cooper Kupp, and the always consistent kicker Greg Zuerlein. The glue that keeps that five-man wrecking crew thriving is the shared belief in Jesus Christ.

Not only do these men exemplify Christ on the field, they openly do so off the field, both in and out of the public’s eye. From something as seemingly simple as sharing a ‘Bible verse of the day’ Tweet with fans, to an interview quoting a focus passage in times of various injury recoveries, to offering up praises following a Super Bowl loss, these men of God certainly do more than just talk the talk.

Sean McVay was hired by Los Angeles in 2017 at the tender age of 30, making him the youngest Head Coach in modern day NFL history. With the Rams, McVay is 27-10, having won the NFC West in both 2017 and 2018. He is the youngest person to ever win the NFL Coach of the Year award, and the youngest Head Coach to appear in a Super Bowl game.

McVay grew up in the Roman Catholic faith, where he spent significant time working on his faith, while attending confirmation classes as a youth. He claims that his on-field attitude and persona is greatly influenced by his Catholic upbringing. Todd Gurley, 25, who went 10th overall in 2015, has now suited up for the Rams for five seasons, picking up 4,817 yards on the ground, 51 rushing touchdowns, while adding 1,950 yards receiving and 10 touchdown receptions.

“God means everything. Without Him, none of this is possible,” Gurley told Sports Spectrum in 2019. “Faith, family, football — I’m trying to keep that philosophy… He’s just done so much. He’s blessed me, that’s why I am where I am, because He’s blessed me so much my whole life.”

“What more can I ask for?” he said prior to Super Bowl 53. “He’s given me everything I wanted plus more. I’m super grateful for every opportunity I get, and it’s just a blessing to be here.” Brandin Cooks, 26, has only been with the Rams for two seasons, but he has certainly made an impact on the team offensively. He hauled in a career-high 1,204 receiving yards, while adding six touchdowns in his debut season in Los Angeles. Cooks has over 5,500 yards and 33 NFL touchdowns to his name.

Despite catching eight passes for 120 yards in the Rams’ Super Bowl loss in early 2019, Cooks offered up praises on his Twitter page, just hours after the defeat.

“Lord, I love you beyond words!” Cooks Tweeted. “I hope someone was saved tonight through all circumstances. May you shine bright through it all. For your honor, your glory and your praise. Whatever you are up to, God, I know it’s for your glory!”

Kupp, 26, who has started just 19 career games, already has 143 receptions, 1,940 yards and 15 touchdowns to his name. After making his NFL debut in 2017, Kupp suffered a season-ending ACL tear, keeping the young receiver out of the lineup for LA’s run to the Super Bowl. He bounced back tremendously with 505 receiving yards through the Rams’ first five games of 2019.

“Being able to every day find that joy in life that only comes from the Spirit, there is growth happening,” Kupp said in the 2019 Football Sunday intro video. “…knowing where your identity is and knowing that as much as I want to be a football player and I strive to be that, I’m so much more than that. This life is temporary but there’s such great things ahead.

No matter what the naysayers say, no matter what anyone tells me, I know that my identity is in Christ and nothing can take me off of that.”

Zeurlein — or Legatron as he is commonly referred to — found his way onto the LA Rams as a late round draft pick in 2012, after growing up a soccer fan. The 31-year-old currently has over 750 individual NFL points to his name in kicking 177 field goals and 222 extra points in eight seasons of work. Zuerlein holds the NFL record for most field goals per game in a single season, while holding the Rams’ longest field goal record (61 yards).

“Sometimes people think the high-level of play can go to your head, but I think it can actually be a humbling situation,” Zuerlein told The Catholic Exchange. “The phrase that keeps me from getting carried away is: I will only be tolerated as long as it takes for the team to find my replacement. This helps me not to take myself seriously and keep things directed toward Heaven rather than earth.”

Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.
Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.