It is one thing to profess Christian faith and quite another to exhibit Christian humility in a triumphant moment.
On Saturday, third-string quarterback Mason Rudolph led the Pittsburgh Steelers to an improbable victory and then gave appropriate credit in a post-game interview.
“First off, I want to say, just so thankful to my Creator, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play this game and for carrying me through the dark times, and getting me back here for a special moment,” Rudolph said.
Mere personal statistics, however, tell only part of the story.
Entering play on Saturday, the Steelers had a record of 7-7. They had dropped three consecutive games, including back-to-back home losses to the 2-10 Arizona Cardinals and 2-10 New England Patriots.
Moreover, lifelong Steelers fans — including yours truly — could testify to the intense negativity surrounding the team’s recent play. They simply looked awful. In fact, at times they looked uninterested.
Meanwhile, the Bengals entered Saturday riding a three-game winning streak and had moved one game ahead of Pittsburgh at 8-6.
Rudolph’s winning performance, therefore, occurred in an unlikely team context. For at least one week, it also changed the entire narrative surrounding the 2023 Steelers.
For Rudolph personally, Saturday’s “special moment” might have altered the trajectory of his career.
Selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Rudolph started eight games during his rookie season in place of injured Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh won five of those games.
Since then, however, Rudolph has largely toiled in anonymity. He started only two games combined the next two seasons and then did not make an appearance for the team in 2022. Thus, he entered 2023 as an afterthought in Pittsburgh.
Those were the “dark times” through which, he said, Jesus carried him.
Then, on Saturday, with his family in attendance, Rudolph heard Steelers fans chanting his name. Afterward, the stadium played “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” two days before Christmas. Fans treated their third-string quarterback as the team’s savior.
Thus, Rudolph had every reason in the world to feel vindicated. He could have used the post-game interview to gloat. Or, he could have used it to chastise coaches for not giving him a fair chance since 2019.
Instead, he opened that interview by giving thanks to Jesus.
Perhaps that is why, during the same interview, teammate Alex Highsmith — a starting outside linebacker with 21.5 combined sacks over the last two seasons — echoed Rudolph’s sentiment and appeared genuinely thrilled for his quarterback.
“All glory to God for the victory. He’s good, man. Just all glory to Him,” Highsmith said while sporting eye-black in the shape of a cross.
Highsmith then patted Rudolph on the back.
“Shout out to this guy, man. You know, we — he’s the man, man. He had a hell of a game,” Highsmith added.
“Nice interview after game with Mason Rudolph as they’re playing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer for him and Great LB Alex Highsmith!” Carberg wrote.
— Connie Carberg (@ConnieScouts) December 24, 2023
Prominent conservative commentator Benny Johnson shared the clip for his more than 2 million followers. In so doing, Johnson emphasized Rudolph’s expression of humility.
“Steelers QB Mason Rudolph: ‘I want to say I’m so thankful to my creator, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play this game, carrying me through the dark times, and getting me back here,'” Johnson wrote.
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph: “I want to say I’m so thankful to my creator, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play this game, carrying me through the dark times, and getting me back here.”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 24, 2023
Other social media users found Rudolph’s words brave and hope-inspiring.
“Takes courage to give Jesus the glory in this backwards time we are living in,” one user tweeted.
Takes courage to give Jesus the glory in this backwards time we are living in.
— Kevin M. Nelson (@KevinMNelsonUSA) December 24, 2023
“America needs more of this kind of faith — especially in these dark times when our country is falling apart because of our current administration. Brighter days are ahead for us,” another user wrote.
America needs more of this kind of faith — especially in these dark times when our country is falling apart because of our current administration.
Brighter days are ahead for us.
— Paul A. Szypula 🇺🇸 (@Bubblebathgirl) December 24, 2023
Those who curse God for their misfortunes seldom thank Him for their successes. This is the paradox of pride.
Thus, Rudolph could not have made a stronger Christian example.
After all, he did not praise Jesus for the victory alone. He praised Jesus for the “opportunity,” for getting him through the “dark times” and for the “special moment.”
In short, he acknowledged that during those years of languishing in obscurity, when it must have felt like everyone in his professional world had forgotten about him, God never did.
At the same time, he recognized that all good things in his life come from God.
The world has never needed that message of humility more than it does today.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.