Famous Athletes Who Were/Are Outspoken About Their Catholic Faith – EpicPew

Famous Athletes Who Were/Are Outspoken About Their Catholic Faith

Catholics have always had a healthy relationship with sporting events and since the 19th century even popes have been supportive and outspoken on the benefit of sporting to people. (For an interesting article on the matter, click here.)

Pope Francis also recently said,

“Sport is a universal language that brings together peoples, and can help persons meet and overcome conflicts…Therefore, I encourage you to live the dimension of sports as the gymnasium of virtue in the full development of individuals and communities.” 

With the Olympics currently underway, I thought it would be interesting to see how many “Cath-letes” there were that competed or are competing in American sports, specifically. Athletes, whether Olympians or not, because of their prominence in the world of sports, can have a knockdown effect on those who watch them and hold them in high esteem. As Catholics in the public profile, they have a responsibility to live out their faith and all that it entails. Some are/were not as stellar as others in that practice, but we must always remember, they are sinners too, just like the rest of us.


Matt Birk 


Retired NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens; NFL champion; outspoken of his Catholicism.


Tom Coughlin

tomcoughlin catholic

Former head coach of the NY Giants; 2x NFL champion.


Jack Del Rio

This is a photo of The Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio and The Del Rio Foundation. Coat donation at Our Lady of the Visitacion School. This was in San Francisco, California. February 1, 2016.

Head coach of the Oakland Raiders.


Philip Rivers

CUA Commencement 2014.

QB of the San Diego Chargers.


Brett Favre


Former NFL QB (most notably for the Green Bay Packers); NFL champion; 2x NFL MVP; Wrangler Jean spokesman.


Herman Edwards 


Former NFL player; current football analyst on ESPN; convert.


Luke Kuechly


Linebacker for the Carolina Panthers; 2015 NFC champion.


Vince Lombardi


Greatest coach in NFL history; considered the priesthood; the Super Bowl trophy is named in honor of him and his great contribution to football in America. Led Packers to greatness in the 1960s.


Don Shula

NOVEMBER 15. 2014 Marlene Quaroni/FC Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo (SSJC),Sister Lidia Valli, Sister Filomena Mastangelo, Sister Faustina Rondena & Sister Carla Valentini from Marian Center for the mentally-challenged pose with Coach Don Shula. St. Joseph Churchm Miami Beach honors Don and Mary Anne Shula at the church's annual gala with a Catholic high school scholarship in the Shula's name

Former NFL coach of the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts; 3x NFL champion.


Joe DiMaggio


One of the greatest MLB players from 1936-1951.


Tommy Lasorda


MLB Hall of Famer; former player.


Jason Kipnis

Indians at Orioles June 30, 2012

2nd baseman for the Cleveland Indians


Grant Desme


Former minor-leaguer who became a Norbertine and is now Fr. Matthew Desme.


David Eckstein

david_eckstein cath

Former player with the St. Louis Cardinals; featured in Champions of Faith Catholic documentary film.


Stan “The Man” Musial


Former player and great for the St. Louis Cardinals.


Mike Piazza


Former MLB player; also featured in Champions of Faith documentary.


Darrell Miller

Darrell Miller, a former major league baseball player and director of the league's Urban Youth Academy, speaks at a Catholic Men of Faith Conference March 7 at St. Philip Church in Franklin, Tenn. (CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register) See FAITH-MEN March 16, 2015.

Former catcher/outfielder; after conversion became outspoken in his defense of Catholicism; even attended a Vatican conference.


Jeff Suppan


Former MLB player; appeared in Champions of Faith.


Kobe Bryant


Retired NBA player for the Lakers; 5x NBA champion; speaks fluent Italian; credits his Catholic faith for saving his marriage and for getting him and his wife through a tough period in their lives.

Kerry Kittles


Former basketball player; has served as Extraordinary Minister.


Chris Mullen


1992 Olympic gold medalist.


Pat Riley


Former player and coach; president of the Miami Heat.


Kendrick Perkins


Center for Cleveland Cavaliers.


James J. Braddock


Professional boxer; the movie “Cinderella Man” was based on his life.


Mariel Zagunis


Fencing gold medalist at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.


Timothy Goebel


Figure skater; Olympic bronze medalist; involved with Catholic Charities.


Kimmie Meissner


2006 World Figure Skating champ.


Jordan Spieth


Professional golfer; won 2015 Masters Tournament.


Jordyn Wieber


Gold medalist with the 2011 World Champion Women’s gymnastics team and 2012 Olympics.


Samantha Peszek


Silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics with the women’s gymnastics team.


Dominique Dawes


Convert to Catholicism; member of the Magnificent Seven gymnastic team.


Johnny Gaudreau


Ice hockey left winger for the Calgary Flames.


Mark Van Guilder


Player for the Milwaukee Admirals.


Rebecca Dussault


Cross-country skier; Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati’s name was on her skis.


Matt Besler

Stanford, California - Friday, May 16, 2014: USMNT feature portraits 2014.

Soccer player for Sporting Kansas City.


Chase Hilgenbrinck


Former defender for the New England Revolution; retired from soccer to enter the seminary; is now a priest of the Diocese of Peoria serving as an assistant chaplain to the St. John’s Newman Center at the University of Illinois.


Luke Vercollone


Player for the Richmond Kickers; Catholic Athletes for Christ member.


Bonnie Blair


Speed skater; spokeswoman for Catholic Relief Services.


Kate Ziegler


US Olympic swimmer.


James B. Connolly


Track and field jumper; won an Olympic medal; Knight of Columbus; author.


Lopez Lomong


Part of the Lost Boys of Sudan who became a US citizen; athlete in track and field.