I”m late in updating my list of Mormons in professional football. Its not because last year’s post was hijacked by those talking about playing sports on Sunday. But it may be in part because I’ve focused more on baseball recently. But, I’ve finally got my act together, and here’s the current list, along with the now due list of Mormons in professional basketball — including an additional Mormon playing in the NBA preseason
Recently 2008 NBA draft pick (#46 overall) Trent Plaisted was asked to join the L. A. Clippers for their preseason games after playing in Europe since 2009. He has appeared in 3 games so far, averaging just 5 minutes a game. It remains to be seen whether or not he will stay once the season begins.
As always, the names on the list below are provisional. It is possible that some of them are not Mormon, or no longer consider themselves Mormon. Others may be inactive or disaffected. To a degree we can only guess what religious affiliation any person has — its not a matter of public record. In general, I take the widest possible latitude with this — if someone’s parents are Mormon or grew up Mormon, I put them on the list, assuming that they were influenced somehow. Just because they don’t “act Mormon” (whatever that means) or follow the commandments doesn’t mean they are automatically excluded.
If you have further information that can be independently verified about the names below, or know of additional individuals whose Church membership can be verified, please mention them below in the comments.
So that it is very clear, whether or not these individuals or any Mormon should play sports on Sunday is NOT a topic for comments on this post. Such comments will be removed. It could be a comment on another post — or if someone wants to submit to me a guest post on this subject, I’ll consider posting it separately.
- Al Afalava — DB, Tennessee Titans #38, Oregon State
- Matt Asiata — RB, Minnesota Vikings #48, Utah
- Mark Asper — G, Minnesota Vikings #79, Oregon — — RM
- [CUT] John Beck — QB, Houston Texans #12, BYU — — RM
- Tony Bergstrom — G, Oakland Raiders #70, Utah — — RM
- Stewart Bradley — LB, Arizona Cardinals #55, Nebraska
- Jordan Cameron — TE, Cleveland Browns #84, USC
- [RES] Austin Collie — WR, Indianapolis Colts #17, BYU — — RM
- John Denney — LS, Miami Dolphins #92, BYU — — RM
- [CUT] Jonathan Fanene — DE, New England Patriots #98, Utah
- [DEV] Hebron Fangupo — DT, Seattle Seahawks, USC/BYU — — RM
- [CUT] Aaron Francisco — DB, Tennessee Titans #47, BYU
- Sione Fua — DT, Carolina Panthers #94, Stanford
- Stanley Havili — FB, Philadelphia Eagles, #39, USC
- Todd Heap — TE, Arizona Cardinals #86, Arizona State
- Bryan Kehl — LB, Kansas City Chiefs #53, BYU
- Brett Keisel — DE, Pittsburgh Steelers #99, Snow College/BYU
- Ma’ake Kemoeatu — NT, Baltimore Ravens #96, Utah
- Paul Kruger — OLB, Baltimore Ravens #99, Utah — — RM
- [RES] Spencer Larsen — FB, New England Patriots #46, Arizona — — RM
- Deuce Lutui — G, Tennessee Titans #72, Snow College/USC
- Fili Moala — DE, Indianapolis Colts #95, USC
- Tony Moeaki — TE, Kansas City Chiefs, #81 Iowa
- Haloti Ngata — DE, Baltimore Ravens #92, Oregon
- [CUT] David Nixon — LB, Carolina Panthers #48, BYU
- Dennis Pitta — TE, Baltimore Ravens #88, BYU — — RM
- Sione Pouha — NT, New York Jets #91, Utah — — RM
- Dallas Reynolds — C, Philadelphia Eagles #66, BYU — — RM
- [DEV] Matt Reynolds — T, Philadelphia Eagles, BYU — — RM
- Samson Satele — C, Indianapolis Colts #64, Hawaii
- [CUT] Derek Schouman TE, New Orleans Saints #83, Boise State
- Vic So’oto — LB, Oakland Raiders #54, BYU
- [CUT] Manase Tonga — RB, Oakland Raiders #41, BYU
- [CUT] Tim Toone — WR, Atlanta Falcons #17, Weber State
- Will Tukuafu — DT, San Francisco 49ers #92, Oregon — — RM
- [CUT] Harvey Unga — RB, Chicago Bears #45, BYU
- Eric Weddle — FS, San Diego Chargers #32, Utah
- Darrell Bevell — OC, Seattle Seahawks
- Andy Reid — HC, Philadelphia Eagles
* Note: Because a blogger claimed he was Mormon after he was fined earlier this season for wearing a San Francisco Giants cap to a press conference, I should point out that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (Utah) is technically not Mormon. However, from what I can tell, his mother is an inactive church member and he does have several cousins (including one former professional baseball player) who are Mormon, which may be the source of the blogger’s rumor.
- Jimmer Fredette — G, Sacramento Kings #7, BYU
- Trent Plaisted — F, Los Angeles Clippers #44, BYU
Male Players in other leagues:
- Lance Allred — C, Fuerza Regia (Mexico) #41, Weber St.
- Chris Burgess — C, Guaynabo Mets (Puerto Rico) #34, Utah
- Jaycee Carroll — G, Real Madrid (ASB-Spain) #20, USU
- Lee Cummard — G, Fos Ouest (France) #15, BYU
- Casey Jacobsen — G, Brose Baskets (Germany) #23, Stanford
- Spencer Nelson — F/C, Gran Canaria (Spain) #17, USU
- Adrien Sturt — C, London Lions (BBL-UK) #20, Snow College
- Jonathan Tavernari — G/F, Givova Scafati (Italy) #9, BYU
- Tai Wesley — F, Rouen (France) #7, USU
- Trent Whiting — G, Aget Service IM (Italy) #15, BYU
- Gary Wilkinson — F/C, Kalev/Cramo (Estonia) #55, USU
- Erin Thorn — G, Minnesota Lynx #5, BYU
- Ambrosia Anderson — F, Trutnov (Czech Republic) #15, BYU
- Morgan Warburton — G, Gran Canaria (Spain) #15, Utah
I hope that gives us all a little to chew over during the rest of the NFL season and the upcoming NBA season — or whatever football or basketball leagues you may follow this year and next.
Tim Toone is active and an RM. When he was in town we had him speak to the YM in our ward about his Mission in South Africa.
Just want to add that Bryan Kehl is an RM. I was teaching him his freshman year when he received his mission call to Canada.
Is that an intentional distinction you’re drawing between “WNBA Players” and “Female Players”?
Why more Mormons in the NFL? Bigger pool of athletes for starters, 53 x 28 in the NFL, 13 (up from 12) x 30 in the NBA. 1484 players in the NFL compared to only 339 in the NBA. And, the NBA is over 75% black, and a substantial number of the non-black players are foreign born. The odds of finding a Mormon in those demographic groups is pretty low. QED
I was thinking Noah Hartsock (BYU ’12, RM) got a gig playing overseas, but I can’t find anything on it.
Not sure if Travis Hansen (BYU ’03) is still playing for the Moscow Dynamo, but from what I hear he was quite the star there.
Also, is Rafael Araujo still playing overseas? He was a top 10 pick in the NBA draft but didn’t pan out. I guess I can’t confirm he is Mormon either, though he played for BYU (’04).
Jabari Parker will be on the list within a couple of years.
Good article on Hansen (retired) here:
The distinction between female players and WNBA is the same that he draws between NBA and “male players ***in other leagues***”. E.g., they are professional, but not in the American leagues.
I think the NFL players who aren’t actually on rosters should be removed, though.
The NFL has had 32 teams since 2002.
Conor Turley, an LDS young man from La Canada I ward in California, played college ball at Penn. he is currently playing in Mexico. if you want his father’s email list for more info, please let me know.
Thanks all for the links to those playing. Keep ’em coming!
I can say, JT (#4) that Araújo is NOT LDS. His wife is LDS. As far as I can tell, he isn’t playing anywhere at the moment. [I put a lot of effort into whether or not he is Mormon last year, and it appears that he is not.]
I should also say that I agree with Mark B.’s analysis of why there are few Mormons in the NBA. Now as for why so many Mormons like basketball — I can’t explain it…. [GRIN]
Kent, wasn’t were to put it, but Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is considered in the top 2 for Heimans trophy this year. Pretty sure he is LDS… can you confirm?
Jax (11), that is my understanding also. I didn’t know about the Heisman possibility — I’ll try to keep an eye on it.
Could this be the first Mormon to get the Heisman?
Nope. Detmer won the Heisman in 1990.
This would put top prospects in Basketball (J. Parker), football (Te’o), and baseball (B. Harper) as LDS members. That is fascinating to me!
The second section of this article lists Te’o as one top candidate and Johnny Maziel (QB, Texas A&M) as the other.
Jax (14), you forgot Rugby (Will Hopoate — who should return from a mission in a year, IIRC)
If you review the comments on my old guest post on retroactive MoYs, you will find that my suggestion of Ty Detmer for 1990 was disqualified because he had not yet joined the Church when he won the Heisman. So Teo would be the first.
Skip Bayless making the case that Manit Te’o should win the Heisman
So, Alex Smith is not a member of the LDS faith? Though he has relatives that are, one being the coach that left Weber State and headed off to Arkansas. That Smith, had a not so wonderful stint with the Razorbacks this past year. Oh, well the paycheck was good!