NFL star CJ Stroud leans on prayer, God amid presssure of success on the field

Quarterback C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans speaks at a press conference in September 2023. | Screengrab: YouTube/Houston Texans

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud, a possible NFL Rookie of the Year candidate, opened up about his Christian faith following last Sunday's win against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Stroud led the Texans to a 30-27 victory against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, even though the Bengals were 5.5-point favorites. 

Following the win, Stroud was questioned during a press conference about maintaining a calm demeanor.  Many believe the 22-year-old athlete, drafted out of Ohio State University with the second pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has shown himself to be a poised leader who has garnered trust from his coaches and teammates. 

Stroud, an outspoken Christian who hasn't been afraid to share the name of Jesus Christ, shared how God has been with him through hurdles in life.

"For me, it's a lot of prayer," he began. "A lot of just knowing that God wouldn't put anything on me that I can't handle."  

"I don't deserve His grace and His mercy, but He still gives it to me, and I love Him for that ... I think God made me like that."  

Stroud said he's "been through a lot, not only in football but things that made me just kind of chill when everything is going crazy."

"I thank God for putting that … in me because that's something that you need playing in this position, in this league," he said. 

Stroud's father, a former pastor named Coleridge Bernard Stroud III, is serving a 38-year prison sentence in California after pleading guilty in 2015 to carjacking, kidnapping, robbery and misdemeanor sexual battery, Sports Illustrated reports. At the time, Stroud was a middle school student. 

With the breadwinner of the family in jail, the family reportedly experienced financial struggles and housing insecurity. SI notes the Strouds nearly went homeless.

Stroud is having one of the better rookie seasons in recent memory, leading the Texans to a 5-4 record through the first nine games of the season. He is currently ranked second in the NFL in passing yards, with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The quarterback has played well enough to be in consideration to win the Most Valuable Player Award. Only NFL legend Jim Brown has won the league MVP award as a rookie.

Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans praised Stroud for being "calm in the chaos." 

"The thing about C.J. is it's the calm in the chaos," Ryans said, as reported by KPRC 2. "He doesn't waver. He's confident that he's going to make plays, and the moment isn't too big for him."

After winning his first game in the NFL earlier this season, Stroud told the media that his purpose is to share the Gospel and Jesus Christ. 

"I'll do that. I think that's what God wants," he said.

During his press conference Sunday, Stroud expressed gratitude to his teammates and coaches, sharing how "amazing" it is to have mutual trust reciprocated through actions. He also praised his and his teammates' families. 

"Shoutout to our families. We put in a lot of work, and our families do a great job of supporting us in that way. I love my family. I know the rest of my teammates can say the same," he said. "It's not just us. It's the city of Houston behind us, our families behind us, the guys' kids, their wives, my family, my parents. A lot of people are behind us in this thing, and I think we are proving a lot of people right who believe in us." 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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