49ers Quarterback, Matt Barkley: “Hard work will take you to the next level”

Our very own Jack Roberts, caught up with 49ers Quarterback Matthew Barkley in the off-season, to talk faith and football!

Matt it’s been a busy couple of months for you, signing with the 49ers, what excited you most about the opportunity?

I think just a new start and coming back to California where I was born and raised. I did college football here and just to be back is comforting but knowing that the talent we’ve signed this off-season it’s almost a completely different game from last year so just the prospect in front of us and what we’re capable of doing is really exciting. We’ve got a lot of good guys in this team and a lot of talent, so just hoping we can make the best of it.

You know your way around the league circuit now, played for several teams, what makes the NFL so great for you?

Well it’s definitely what I’ve been wanting to do since I was a little kid. I wanted to play quarter-back in the NFL so living out the dream and regularly doing it is a huge blessing to me.

Who is the best player that you have ever played against?

Best defensive player I’ve ever played against. I mean everyone says J.J. Watt- I was never actually up against J.J Watt. I don’t know. It’s hard.

Just out of interest, if you could play anywhere else on the field for a day, what position would you want?

Based on my body type, I’d probably go tight-end.

Matt, you are very open about your Christian faith, how did you come to know Jesus for yourself?

I was born into a Christian family and raised in a church. I went to a Christian school and I went to a Catholic High School, mainly for football reasons, but the fact Jesus and God were still part of my schooling was pretty special. I always knew I believed in God and Jesus and I played in a worship team at senior high school and was always involved. We would always have summer nights where we’d open up our house to neighbourhood kids and just have fun and play worship. My mum or someone else would give a story.

We’ve always been pretty open about it and try to include as many people as possible. From very early on, I guess from Kindergarten was the first time I accepted Jesus into my life. It’s definitely a growing process as you know and I’m just trying to grow each day.

Is it tough to follow Jesus whilst handling the popularity, money and media scrutiny?

I think it can be at times. I think I have been blessed to come from a family that doesn’t over value things of this World and so whether that is money or fame, you kind of got to take that for what it’s worth and not give it to much credit. Knowing that football, as much as I want to play football forever, there will come a day where I will play my last match and I won’t be able to play football and make a living for my family. The fact I know I’m going to give it my all and ultimately there’s things that are far more important- my family, my wife are very supportive of me to keep that perspective.

Some people would say, Matt you’ve got a contract, money, success, why do you need God? What would you say to that?

When I die, I’m not taking any of my contract money; nothing I did on the field is coming with me and so I’m having an eternal perspective. Knowing that I’m imperfect and need a perfect saviour can be very humbling at the same time knowing that what I can do on the field is God given and yeah I worked hard but God moved pieces into places to put me where I am today.

I hear you’re really involved in your local church. How do you serve, what do you do?

It’s been kind of hard recently, because we have moved around. Growing up, I was part of my youth group worship team and I still play guitar every once in a while. We do our Sundays in different ways; my mum is involved in leading a Women’s Bible study and my wife helps out too. I’m involved with kind of smaller things here and then just because my schedule can only permit certain things.

Do you talk about your faith with teammates?

Yeah! I’ve only been in San Francisco for two, three months now but already have a solid group of believers on the team. I met our Chaplain and from what I understand we have a Bible Study during the season. Last night actually in our hotel room, there was about four or five of us (we actually just finished our off-season training yesterday) and last night we were up till about 12 talking about God and having Jesus for about four hours. That was cool. There are a lot of great dudes who talk about Jesus on this team.

Finally, what advice would you give to young players out there who want to be the next Matt Barkley?

I say if it’s really your passion and you really love it then you’re going to have to work your butt off! In our team meeting today we had the privilege of Jerry Rice coming to meet and speak to us- one of the greatest football players of all time. He talked to us about his work ethic and what it took, and yeah talent had something to do with it, but hard work will definitely take you to the next level. I definitely think that having a safe foundation definitely will help you stay grounded.

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