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Win or lose, Brock Purdy will give thanks

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has kept God at the center of his life as he’s become one of the NFL’s biggest stars

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) crouches down on the field during the first half of the NFC championship game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) crouches down on the field during the first half of the NFC championship game against the Detroit Lions in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024.

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

Brock Purdy will be praying Sunday as his San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs — but not for a win.

Instead, as he always does during games, he’ll be praying for peace.

“It’s not, ‘God, can we win here? Can we do something great here?’ It’s more just to have that peace, that steadfastness in all the chaos,” he said while meeting with reporters this week.

Comments like these explain how the young quarterback has become one of the NFL’s most prominent Christians. In interviews, on social media and in conversations with teammates, Purdy puts the focus on his faith in God.

“Being a professional athlete, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your job. ... But having a perspective on what your purpose in life is with your family, faith first and God, I think those are for me No. 1,” he said this week.

Brock Purdy’s upbringing

Purdy grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, and was involved in religious activities from a young age. While in college, he told a reporter that he was raised to focus on God, not his athletic abilities or promising football career.

“Whatever I’m doing, I know what my purpose is, and that’s in the Lord. That’s what my identity is in,” he said.

In a recent conversation with 49ers legend Steve Young, which was shared on the team’s YouTube page, Purdy said that his faith stems from his parents, as the Deseret News previously reported. His family prayed together when he was younger and they still do today.

“The night before games, we always call. We pray together,” he said. “My dad’s nervous. He’s always praying. He says the whole game he’s just praying the whole time.”

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy speaks to reporters after a practice Feb. 2, 2024.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy speaks to reporters after a practice Feb. 2, 2024.

Tony Avelar, Associated Press

Brock Purdy college career

Purdy arrived at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in 2018, prepared to ride the bench for at least his freshman year.

As some of his former coaches and teammates recently told the Des Moines Register, the young quarterback showed promise during his first fall camp. He could make big throws and he was pleasant to work with. Still, he started the season third on the depth chart.

But then starter Kyle Kempt got hurt and backup Zeb Noland struggled. Purdy came in off the bench for Iowa State on Oct. 6, 2018, and a star was born.

“He threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns while running for another 84 yards and a TD in the upset victory,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Over the next two years, Purdy continued to shine. He led the Cyclones to new heights, including a Fiesta Bowl win against Oregon at the end of his junior season.

All the while, Purdy stayed focused on supporting others instead of his own fame. He spent a lot of his free time connecting with teammates and helped lead a campus ministry group.

“Purdy was at the church every Thursday through the year and every Sunday when he could make it,” the Des Moines Register reported, noting that Purdy chose to be re-baptized while in college to signify his deeper connection to his Christian faith.

Ahead of Purdy’s senior year, Jack Bertilson, who worked with the same ministry program, asked him what he wanted to accomplish during his time left on campus. Bertilson recently described the quarterback’s surprising answer in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

“He’s like, ‘All I want at the end of the day is that the guys in the locker room would know that I loved and cared about them,’” Bertilson said.

Mr. Irrelevant

After an underwhelming senior season at Iowa State, Purdy faced a difficult choice. He could take advantage of the fifth year of eligibility offered to players amid the COVID-19 pandemic or enter the 2022 NFL draft.

With his college coach’s encouragement, Purdy chose the latter option. But he became “Mr. Irrelevant,” the nickname given to the player taken with the last pick in the draft.

He began his first year with the San Francisco 49ers in much the same way he began his college career. He was the third-string quarterback, riding the bench behind Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, the Des Moines Register reported.

The similarities didn’t stop there. Once again, his team’s starter got injured and, this time, the back-up did, too. Purdy took the field, started winning and didn’t stop.

As KCCI Des Moines put it, “Purdy’s first full season as the Niners’ starting quarterback wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t far off.”

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks to the media as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy looks on during Super Bowl opening night Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

Brock Purdy and religion

Purdy’s rapid journey to the top of the sport befuddled many NFL fans. In a league filled with flashy, intense stars, the young Iowa State product came off as shockingly normal.

He was also strikingly religious. Plenty of NFL players openly discuss their faith, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but Purdy seemed to talk about God nearly every time he was near a mic.

“You go out there, you prepare as best you can, you get better every single day at practice, and once you get your opportunity, it’s ‘What are you going to do with it?’ For me, I believe in the Lord, and I trust in Him. I just go out there, and I just play,” he said after he came in for an injured Garoppolo and led the 49ers to victory in December 2022, according to Fox News.

Purdy describes himself as a “follower of Jesus” on Instagram and a “believer in Christ” on X. He regularly includes references to God and his faith in his photo captions.

“God is good, all the time,” Purdy wrote in December under a picture of him posing with family members.

In his recent conversation with Steve Young, Purdy explained that his relationship with God makes his success in the NFL possible, as the Deseret News previously reported.

“My identity isn’t in football,” Purdy said. “I know who I am, and ‘God, if you want me to do great with (football), great. If not, all right, let’s go do something else, wherever you need me.’ That’s allowed me to not put all this pressure on myself. It’s allowed me to play free. It’s allowed me to live my life and keep things simple.”

During interviews this week ahead of the Super Bowl, Purdy has continued to talk about how his faith helps him stay calm in high-pressure moments.

He told reporters that he’s read Psalm 23 again and again this season and that it helps him remember that God is with him amid the “craziness,” as the Deseret News previously reported.

“I know God’s with me and he’s right here in this moment,” Purdy said.

On Sunday, God will be with Purdy in his biggest moment yet: the Super Bowl. And Purdy will be praising him no matter what happens.