If you happened to catch the divisional round of NFL playoff games last week, you probably know how close the Chiefs and Bills game was. With 13 seconds left, the Bills scored a touchdown to take the lead by three. Then, as if he didn’t feel the pressure, Patrick Mahomes came out and threw two passes, one to Tyreek Hill and one to Travis Kelce, to get into field goal range. With three seconds left, the Chiefs kicked a field goal to go into overtime, and with the first possession, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown to win the game.
Since their acquisition of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have looked like a very different team than they did in the early 2000s. From 1994 to 2014, the Chiefs made it to the playoffs 7 times, and they lost their first game every single time. Since 2015, they have made the playoffs every single year and they have 9 postseason wins, including their Super Bowl win in 2019.
Recently on Morning Air, John Morales hosted Kansas City Chiefs Chaplain Father Richard Rocha to talk about the team’s success on the field, off the field, and what his role as “spiritual coach” is like.
To begin, Father Richard talked about his mission within the dynamics of a team. “The job of an NFL chaplain is to bring Christ to these young men. I’ve always said to these young men that football will go away one day, but we’ve got to embrace God most high. That whole ‘faith, and then family, and then football’ should still be carried out from those younger playing days all the way through the NFL.” While being chaplain to the Chiefs is his current vocation, Father Richard clarified that he is a coach for God’s team. His goal is to get them to the Super Bowl of life: heaven.
One thing he warns the players and coaches of is the power of the devil to ruin someone in their position. Without getting into the negative details, when someone is blessed with financial wealth, fame, and power, they become easier to corrupt. And if the devil can corrupt a husband and father, he can take down the whole family. When football goes away, what will they have left? If they make the right decisions according to God’s will, their family and their faith. That’s what Father Richard is there to help these men protect.
Father Richard has been a football fan for so long that he feels extremely blessed to be in the position that he is today, still in touch with the sport he loves. He used to coach on a high school and college level before becoming a priest, and that’s actually how he got in touch with the Chiefs. After he became the chaplain for the KC Royals baseball team, he got invited to attend the NFL combine and meet the NFL chaplains. While he was there, he met the GM for the Chiefs who asked him, “Are you the priest who used to coach football?” He asked Father Richard to meet with him back in Kansas City.
When they met, the GM asked if he would be their one and only permanent chaplain. After consulting with the bishop, he was appointed to the Chiefs team. John asked Father Richard about the guys on the team that Father Richard connected with the most and he mentioned Harrison Butker, their Pro Bowl placekicker. Butker is openly Catholic and a pro-life advocate, having said, “My son was alive since the moment of conception and is the joy of my life.”
Butker has said that he used to live his life as a “fragmented person” always acting a certain way for different people. When Butker returned to his Catholic faith, he said that he finally found a purpose in life. After practice and training, he goes to altar serve at Latin mass. “He really does wear that on his sleeve,” said Father Richard. “It’s so great to see that in our young men, just the inspiration that they get from his level of play, but [also] from his putting God first.” Butker was the player to kick the tying field goal to send it into overtime and allow the Chiefs to go down and win the game last Sunday.
Listen to the whole segment below:
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