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What to read about Latter-day Saint football players during the NFL playoffs

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NFL running back Jamaal Williams, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and NFL linebacker Fred Warner talk on a BYUtv set in 2018.

Tom Holmoe, director of athletics at Brigham Young University, (center) visits with former BYU running back Jamaal Williams, of the Green Bay Packers, (left) and former BYU linebacker Fred Warner, of the San Francisco 49ers, during a break in a live broadcast on BYUTV during the BYU football media day in the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Friday, June 22, 2018.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

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With the college football championship rout in the rearview mirror and the NFL playoffs beginning this week, here are some recommendations regarding Latter-day Saint football players:

First, after recommending last week the Deseret News reprint of a chapter from the book, “The System,” I picked up a copy at Deseret Industries. I read the chapter on how Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy ended up at BYU. It was riveting. I recommend it. You can read an excerpt here.

As a professional, the teams he has played for just keep going to the playoffs. Van Noy has reached the NFL playoffs for the seventh time in his pro career, and you can watch him and the Chargers play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. MT.

Second, I just read this profile of Khyiris Tonga’s missionary service in Sports Illustrated. Tonga is in his second year in the NFL, and has begun to make a big impact in the middle of the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line.

“I’m with people that I don’t even know and I have to learn to love them and try to love them and be patient,” Tonga said. “You work on all these things. That’s one of the biggest things I learned for myself was how Christ-like can I be with people I don’t even know and learning to love them.”

Read the rest here.

Tonga will play in his first playoff game this weekend.

Third, linebacker Fred Warner will play in his third NFL postseason when his San Francisco 49ers play the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. MT. Here’s a great profile of Warner, who was so good this year that he was voted to the Pro Bowl team for the second time in his career.

Finally, please take the time to read my most recent story, about former BYU and NFL football player Derwin Gray’s talk at BYU about race. He provided thought-provoking advice.

My recent stories

‘Color-blind’ people won’t heal America’s racial divide, former BYU football player says (Jan. 9)

About the church

The church announced 134 new mission presidents for 2023. Here’s a profile of one of them, Cotopaxi founder/CEO Davis Smith, who is leaving the business to serve in Brazil.

The Family History Library has been renamed, aptly, the FamilySearch Library.

Groundbreaking services were held for the Queretaro Mexico Temple.

See what three of President Russell M. Nelson’s children learned from him as a father.

President Kevin Worthen and Sister Worthen opened the new BYU semester’s devotional schedule by talking about prophets, promises and logokophosis.

What I’m reading

I just finished “Act of Oblivion” by Robert Harris, which is a novel set around the true manhunt in 1660s America for the killer of a British king.

Sticking with football, this was a funny look at stolen signals and rogue ball boys: “Inside college football’s sideline paranoia.”

Strong, measured piece from Deseret Magazine about the Latter-day Saint mayor of Mesa, Arizona. Is he leaving or leading the Republican party?

This one is long but fascinating story from the Washington Post about the sentencing of a Latter-day Saint who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Turns out that eight years earlier, he acted with what one key person called “unfathomable” grace. (One irony for me is that I wondered if the accused, Jake Peart, realized that he shares the same actual first name as Mitt Romney, with whom he was upset. That’s right, both are named Willard.)