Why these three Dallas Cowboys players decided to get baptized in the team’s pool
The exclusive story behind the touching viral video that took the internet by storm
FRISCO, Texas – Three members of the Dallas Cowboys decided to make a move that will forever alter their lives.
They got baptized. And it was videotaped.
But it wasn’t a typical video of a conventional baptism. What created a stir was that all three players got baptized in the Cowboys’ rehabilitation pool at the team’s swanky practice facilities.
Linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Justin March-Lillard, and safety Kavon Frazier had the honor of having the Cowboys’ team chaplain, Pastor Jonathan Evans, baptize them. By all accounts it is believed to be the first baptism at The Star, the Cowboys’ $1.5 billion headquarters and practice facility, which opened last year.
“We spend a lot of our time here [at the practice facilities],” March-Lillard told The Undefeated. “You’re more with the guys here than you are with your own family, so it’s like a family environment.
“We have our team chaplain, who kind of helped change our lives, and we wanted him to be able to have that honor, so we’re honored to have him to be the one who baptized us. This is kind of faith and football for us – it’s a lifestyle – so it all goes together.”
Frazier said about 15 teammates witnessed the baptisms, adding that the moment was surreal.
“For me, I got baptized at a young age, and I was always a believer, but I never really had a real relationship with God until now,” Frazier said. “So that’s why I just wanted to redo that, because now I actually have a relationship with him and I see what he’s doing in my life and I actually truly have faith.
“I think it brought our team a lot closer in that aspect, because we’re so used to seeing them cheering us on the field. But they were actually cheering us on at getting baptized in a whole different aspect of life.”
Running back Alfred Morris was one of the players in the room where the baptisms occurred and was left inspired by what he had just witnessed.
“Scoring touchdowns, making tackles, getting yards – that stuff is awesome and that stuff is temporary,” Morris said. “But making a decision like that, that’s forever, that’s eternal.
“It was huge for me to see that and to be able to witness that and I’m glad I got to, because it was awesome and I’m superexcited for those guys. I even put it on my social media I was so excited for those guys, because it’s a big step in life.”
It was a big step Hitchens was more than willing to take even though the baptisms didn’t occur in a traditional church.
“I was contemplating that I needed a church to go to in order to get baptized,” Hitchens said. “I just didn’t know it was going to end up like that.
“But it’s crazy how God put different people in your life. [Evans] came out of his way to come here on a Tuesday to baptize us, so it was just a blessing. It just happened out of nowhere.”
The video of the baptisms caught the players off guard when it went viral. Evans shared a two-minute clip on his Facebook page and it has been viewed nearly 6 million times.
Upon entering the pool, Evans read from 2 Corinthians 5:17, stating: “Therefore those who are in Christ are a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.”
The players had no idea that a video of them turning their lives over to God would go viral.
“Going viral, that was God’s plan,” said Frazier, adding he got baptized real early in response to his mom’s demands. “He made it go viral just so we can use our platform in a whole bigger sense than just football.
“It wasn’t supposed to blow up, it just happened. We didn’t do it for the press. We did it to renew our vows with God.”
As word circulated around the Cowboys’ locker room about the baptisms, fullback Keith Smith was enjoying a spiritual awakening and explaining how his three teammates were starting over on life’s journey.
“I feel like those are three guys that are really on the right path, especially spiritually,” Smith said. “I feel like your faith plays a lot into your game, too, so just seeing them take that step is big-time.
“I heard it got a whole bunch of publicity, so it’s always a good thing to spread the word of God.”
March-Lillard, whose father and younger brother both died within the last 13 months, said that it was a no-brainer to get baptized at the Cowboys’ practice facilities. Especially since he’s noticed that some of his teammates have openly gravitated toward the word of God.
“Every Bible study, every conversation about the word of God, they were a part of it,” March-Lillard said. “So it was unique to see them not be afraid to share their beliefs.
“Our church is here, so for us it was kind of like that’s why we got baptized here, because this is our church, this is where we have Bible study.”
By bringing attention to God by getting baptized at The Star, Frazier hopes it will resonate with younger kids across the world. Particularly those kids, he said, who don’t think it’s cool to embrace God.
“They don’t see their friends really worshiping God and really talking about God,” Frazier said. “Even me growing up, I went to a Christian school all my life, but I really wasn’t going around talking about God.
“But now it’s different. Now I actually get it. I think it takes some time and people just have to grow up until they really build that relationship with God, but from this video, hopefully younger people will start learning [about God] a little bit quicker.”
March-Lillard said he gave his life to Christ three years ago. He added that the recent baptism was just icing on the cake for him and his two teammates.
“That was life-changing for us and we wanted to put that on display and to have that visualization about just what it means and how it feels to be reborn,” March-Lillard said. “It was a huge decision for all of us.
“We all backed each other up as well as everyone else in the locker room backed us up. So it was a big decision that we all made together.”
It’s a decision that all three players said they would repeat if they had to do it all over again. And they all strongly believe their baptism was designed to get athletes and people in all walks of life discussing its impact.
“It was amazing just seeing our teammates cheering us on, and it’s just amazing how much it blew up [on social media] and the platform that we can use just by getting baptized at our workplace,” Frazier said. “So now, younger kids might not be so nervous to come out of the closet in their faith.
“They may not think it’s the not-so-cool thing to do. It was all God’s plan to make it go viral.”