Posted on Life Teen Blog, by Eric Porteous
So you grew up in a Catholic home, and you took that into your adulthood as a football player. That’s pretty rare for professional athletes, how did you do that?
I was fortunate to grow up in the Faith; my mom taught me the Faith. In North Alabama there were only like 15 of us in my county in my Confirmation class. We were quite the minority in Alabama. But one thing I remember is when I went to college at North Carolina State, the biggest thing that stuck in my head from my mom was never miss Mass. That was the thing that she definitely got across. When you go to college that’s when the Faith becomes your own. Your mom and dad aren’t waking you up and reminding you “Hey this is a good day to go to Confession.” It’s up to you.
So that really stayed with me and I made sure I never missed Mass and continued to grow in the Faith. My wife had a lot to do with it, she’s a convert and she actually became Catholic the day before we got married. There’s so many gifts from the Faith to appreciate and it strikes people differently, but the one-ness of the Church wherever you are, Raleigh, San Diego, Alabama. Every place we were was home because the Catholic Church is the same everywhere. When we went to Mass that first Sunday after moving to a new place, that was where we felt at home and were able to say “well, home is anywhere, it doesn’t matter where we live because we have the Faith.”
How are you able to make the sacraments a priority in the midst of your football schedule, especially on Sundays?
They have Mass available for us; there’s a team priest who travels with us. Obviously at home I have the opportunity to go at our parish, either earlier Sunday morning or Saturday mass. But I’ve recently starting visiting the churches in the cities we go to, and it’s that same thing – you feel at home. You’re in the opposing teams city and yet you found Mass there. That’s really special playing on Sunday and being able to go to Mass the day of the game – to play and do something you’re passionate about. I was always worried about that, to be honest, even in college thinking, “How am I going to be able to go to Mass? And if I make the NFL, then what happens?”
What kind of temptations and challenges have you had to face as a football player?
The biggest key to avoid those temptations is to not put yourself in those situations. And it’s not just as a NFL player, it’s in any work-place, in any city, anything you’re doing, anywhere after dark, after midnight. I think it’s Corinthians 11 says “bad company corrupts good morals.” If you’re not in the wrong but you continue to put yourself in tempting situations eventually you may give in. So that’s always been something I’ve lived by all the way through – don’t put yourself in those situations. Even though you may be strong enough to go somewhere and not fall into the sin, avoiding it from the get-go will certainly help.
So you’re married with eight kids, I was just wondering if there’s any marriage advice you have for any of us?
I think the biggest thing is to be with your best friend, and it starts right there, that’s the key I believe. NFP [Natural Family Planning] has a lot to do with the strength of our marriage. It allows the understanding that we’re on the same page. There’s discipline and sacrifice that comes with that so we’re able bond in many different ways. And the thing I’m most thankful for is that we’re both in the Church because you have an immediate bond. I don’t know any of these people here today but I already feel like we’re buddies just because we have that connection to the Church. That was important for my wife to be Catholic as well; she’s been great for me and also as a mom and wife.
Thanks so much for taking the time today to talk, is there anything that you would like prayers for?
Yeah, I can give you many intentions, but I’d certainly be humbled if you prayed for my family and for all the unborn.
Philip Rivers is currently the Quarterback for LA Chargers. He grew up in Decatur, Alabama in a devout Catholic home and attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. In 2004 he was drafted to the NFL. Philip and his junior high school sweetheart and wife Tiffany have 8 children and live in San Diego, CA.