Daniel Sorensen on Super Bowl memories, overcoming obstacles and going the extra mile
Kansas City Chiefs’ safety and former BYU star explains his processes and priorities in life
Daniel Sorensen is hip-deep in an NFL career where his job is to hit and tackle some of the most elite athletes on the planet. With it comes a presence in sometimes dicey locker rooms with an accompanying raucous atmosphere.
How does he handle it?
How does he compare the thrill of playing in two Super Bowls as a safety with the Kansas City Chiefs with his other life as a husband, father and disciple of Christ?
Sorensen answered these questions as part of a Facebook fireside meeting on Sunday, hosted by the “Road to Hope and Peace” website and was interviewed by Gordon L. Treadway, president of the Utah Orem Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sorensen, who came to the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent eight years ago, said he learned early on the principle of purpose and it has driven him on and off the field. When trying to make the Chiefs team, the franchise required players to lift weights twice a week. Sorensen approached the conditioning coach in charge and asked if he could double that — make it four times a week. He had to do something extraordinary to compete against other highly paid, drafted players who were competing for a roster spot because he was cut from the team his first year.
The numbers? NFL preseason training camps open with 90 players. By mid-August, that number must be cut to 80. The roster for an NFL team to begin the season is cut to 75 then 55 players. Sorensen has beat those cuts every year since 2013, when he was cut from the practice squad. Hard work and excellence led to him making the Kansas City roster ever since.
“I had to make the most of my time when I was at work,” said Sorensen, who happened to get married the same year he signed with Kansas City out of BYU.
“I had to prepare my body in other ways and engage myself in things that are purposeful instead of leisurely recreating with some of my teammates with music or other influences that you might find in the locker room,” he said.
“I am very diligent with the time that I have because I know it is limited. And with that, I get all of my work done at work, so that when I can go home, I can just be with my family. This is something I’ve learned, to just use my time effectively and efficiently.”
What is it like to play in two Super Bowls? To soak in the pregame hoopla, grind through a hotly contested game? To go against the best players in the game in one of the most-watched TV events of the year and then celebrate a victory?
Sorensen said his answer might be different than many folks would expect. What he loved the most about winning a Super Bowl wasn’t the actual event — as cool as it was — but the process of getting there.
He told the story of going mountain biking in American Fork Canyon with his son the other day. A wide trail turned narrow. Rocks, boulders, trees and obstacles intensified on their route and his son laid down his bike several times. But doing it taught both of them something important. Hard work makes it worth it.
“I fully understand that that is the pinnacle of sports,” Sorensen said of winning the Super Bowl.
“What was the most gratifying was the process, how we got there and the challenges we overcame. That, to me, is more satisfying than the celebration or the victory.”
In the 2019-20 Super Bowl championship season, the Chiefs had two playoff games in which they had to come from behind. In the first game, against Houston, KC was down 24 points and came back to win. In the AFC championship game, the Chiefs overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Tennessee. Then, in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs again came from behind, trailing by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter, but ended up winning by 11.
“Those are the moments I cherish the most. Winning the game and the celebration with the trophy presentation was fun and everything, but what I love the most is how we overcame some of those deficits. To me, that was more special than anything.”
Asked how he’d compare winning a Super Bowl to life as a disciple of Christ, Sorensen said one is in the moment, the other, being who he tries to be, is woven into the fabric of his soul and is more lasting.
“It’s a different feeling,” said Sorensen. “You win the Super Bowl, you’re excited, it’s super fun and then that feeling fades. The memories are great, but they definitely fade. What I’ve come to realize and understand is that it isn’t everything. I’ve been on both sides, on the winning side and the losing side of a Super Bowl game.”
In the comparison, said Sorensen, it becomes apparent that one is a worldly accomplishment and the other is a feeling you get from following Christ and being a disciple. The peace and joy you get from that, he said, is everlasting. It stays with you always. It’s something that is bigger and overshadows everything in life. It helps you put things in perspective.
“You get that from the gospel and you can’t get it from sports,” he said. “Winning the Super Bowl doesn’t heal or fix other challenges you might have in your life, but being a disciple of Christ does. Its effects are everlasting and so much greater.”
Kansas City re-signed Sorensen to a one-year contract in March. He has played in 94 games with the Chiefs, 32 of them as a starter.
In the offseason away from Kansas City, Sorensen lives with his wife, Whitney, and their children in Vineyard, Utah.