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Top 8 NFL players who are Mormon

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The NFL doesn’t discriminate against its players, and they are free to follow their own religion. While there is no particular record kept by the league, there have been players who have expressed their faith and beliefs freely.

Many NFL heroes who played were Mormons (Latter-day Saints). Here is a list of 10 players, both present and retired, who didn't hesitate to discuss their faith and ideas about Christianity both on and off the field.

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John Denney

Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins
Houston Texans vs. Miami Dolphins

Denney began his collegiate career as a defensive end at Ricks College before moving to BYU. He was also an Eagle Scout while growing up in Denver and was an exceptional violinist. Denney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a full-time missionary in New Jersey.

He entered the NFL in 2005 with the Miami Dolphins as a long snapper and played his entire 14-year career with the same team. He played his last season in 2018 and is currently a free agent.

Tony Bergstrom

Tony Bergstrom is a free agent who spent seven years in the NFL with five teams. He served as a missionary for the California Sacramento Mission and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Bergstrom joined Utah in 2005, but before he could play for the Utes in 2008, he left on a mission in the state's capital city of California.

The Oakland Raiders drafted him in 2012, but he later played for the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.

Daniel Sorensen

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Daniel Sorensen, a safety, was an undrafted free agent in 2014 who was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs. After playing eight seasons with the Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints acquired him in 2022.

Sorensen served as a full-time missionary to Costa Rica and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

James Cowser

Former linebacker James Cowser spent two seasons in the league (2016-2017). He was signed by the Oakland Raiders after going undrafted in 2016. He played with the Raiders for 22, finishing with 32 tackles, 21 of which were solo.

Cowser completed an internship at the NFL's China office in Shanghai and speaks Mandarin Chinese with ease. In Hong Kong and Macau, Cowser worked as a missionary for the Church.

Garett Bolles

Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos

Garett Bolles, an offensive tackle, was drafted by the Denver Broncos and is currently playing in sixth season with them.

As a result of his involvement with gangs, violence, drugs and alcohol, Bolles ran into a lot of issues. By being active in the church, he altered his way of life. He spent 10 months on a full-time mission in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before beginning his NCAA football career. He played for Snow College and the University of Utah in college football.

Xavier Su’a-Filo

Xavieer Su'a-Filo is a free agent who has played for the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. He spent eight seasons in the NFL from 2014 to 2021.

Su'a-Filo, a graduate of Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, joined the Florida Tallahassee mission despite having started 13 games as a freshman at UCLA.

Steve Young

Steve Young, a Hall of Famer, played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1985 to 1999 (as well as the USFL's Los Angeles Express). He is the great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU is named after his great-grandfather.

The Hall of Famer won three Super Bowls and was an MVP twice with the 49ers. His No. 8 is retired by the 49ers and BYU, where he was the two-time Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and an All-American.

Young, a philanthropist, established his own organization, the Forever Young Foundation, in 1993 to give academic and athletic opportunities to individuals in need.

Taysom Hill

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals
New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals

Taysom Hill is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints. He is playing his fifth season with the Saints. He also plays wide receiver and quarterback.

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Hill is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a full-time mission to Sydney, Australia.

Three other prominent Latter-day Saints who played in the NFL were Merlin Olsen, Todd Christensen and Haloti Ngata.

Olsen, also a Hall of Famer, was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and 10-time All-Pro (six first teams) as a defensive tackle in 15 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. That franchise retired his No. 74. He was also the Outland Trophy winner as the nation's best lineman and a three-time academic All-American at Utah State. The school named its football field after him and has a sculpture of him outside its stadium.

Olsen went on to become a successful color commentator and actor in television and film. He also was well recognized as the spokesman for FTD florists and co-hosted the Children's Miracle Network telethon.

Christensen, a 10-year tight end after starring at running back at BYU, won two Super Bowls with the Oakland Raiders and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-NFL selection (three first teams). He led the league in receptions in 1983 and 1986. He went on to become a color commentary for NFL and college football games.

Ngata, a 13-year defensive tackle, won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens and was a five-time All-Pro selection (two first teams). He's a member of the Ravens' Ring of Honor. He was a consensus All-American and the Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 at Oregon.

Super Bowl-winning coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs is also a Latter-Day Saint.

There is a long list of Latter-day Saints who have played and are playing in the NFL. The list includes Eric Weddle, Chad Lewis, Brett Keisel, Danny White and Paul Kruger.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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