Andy Dalton: Showing His True Stripes

by Del Duduit

[This story first appeared in January 2018.]

NFL quarterbacks are known for being brash and bold. They lead their teams, stay fearless under pressure and throw touchdown passes.

Plus, they have cool nicknames, like “Big Ben” Roethlisberger, “Captain Kirk” Cousins and “Tom Terrific” (Tom Brady).

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton doesn’t fit the mold of most NFL quarterbacks. Sure, he’s got the size and arm strength. At 6 feet 2 inches and 215 pounds, Andy can light up the scoreboard with pinpoint passes. His leadership ability is there, too. Andy took the Bengals to playoff appearances in four straight years. But instead of being boastful, Andy prefers to let his play on the field do the talking.

The 2011 second-round draft pick has posted some impressive statistics over the past six years. Before the start of the 2017 NFL season, Andy held nearly 20 team records. Those include the most passing yards and touchdowns in a season (4,293 yards and 33 TDs in 2013). He’s one of only six quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Yet Andy isn’t flashy. He doesn’t even have the coolest nickname. Fans call him “Red Rifle.” Andy understands how his fiery red hair earned him the name. At first, he didn’t like the title. Now he accepts it, because he knows it’s not going to change and neither is he.

“It’s not about me at all,” the All-Pro quarterback says. “It’s about glorifying God. It’s about my wife and kids, and my team.”

Listening to Wisdom
Andy gave his life to Jesus Christ when he was in the third grade. At church, Andy began asking his pastor, Dr. Charles Wisdom (yes, that’s his real name), questions about salvation. Pastor Wisdom visited Andy’s home and talked to him about what it meant to become a Christian.

Although Andy was young, he knew he needed to make the decision.

“I knew I needed God in my life more than anything,” he says. “Growing up as a Christian, I knew the love and mercy God has for me.”

Andy Dalton: Showing His True Stripes

Andy understood that he couldn’t earn God’s forgiveness. Salvation was a gift. But he also knew he couldn’t just sit on the couch and grow closer to God. He took the lessons of hard work that he learned on the football field and applied them to his Christian life.

“One thing I realized growing up is that I can’t go through the motions,” Andy says. “I can’t today as a quarterback, and I can’t as a Christian. I have to give it 100 percent or I’ll fail.”

Andy read his Bible. He prayed. He told God his feelings, goals and desires. He spent time with God and other Christians at church. And he saw his relationship with God grow.

Setting Goals
Andy saw his talents on the football field grow, too. During his first year of high school, he was only good enough to make the freshman “B” team. By the time he became a senior, Andy was the starting varsity quarterback. He threw for 42 touchdowns and led his team from Katy, Texas, to the state championship game.

From there, Andy took a football scholarship to play at Texas Christian University. In his four years as a starter, Andy rewrote TCU’s record books. He won 42 of 49 games to earn the attention of NFL scouts. Despite all the accolades, Andy remained humble.

Actually, humble and thankful might be the best way to describe this talented quarterback. It’s no wonder his favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

He echoes this message when he speaks to kids at schools, churches and football camps. God’s plans should always come before our own. According to Andy, that should be our goal.

“Find a good role model and get involved with a church group,” he says. “And read God’s Word every day. I have to. It keeps me going.”

Andy also has goals on the football field. He’d love to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl. But he knows if he puts himself last and the Lord first, he will win life’s Super Bowl.

Andy’s Faves
Football drill: Anything that involves throwing. “I just can’t get enough.”
Breakfast: Omelet, pancakes and bacon. “You can’t go wrong.”
Snack: Chips and queso. “I can eat that every night.”
Bible character: David. “He overcame the odds to serve God.”
Role model: My father. “He was the perfect example of what a Christian man should be.”

This story first appeared in the January 2018 issue of Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2018 Del Duduit. Photos © Getty Images and Andy's family.