It’s been a long and winding road for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, and he attributes his life and success to his enduring faith in Jesus Christ.
Keenum led the Vikings to a last second victory in Minneapolis on Sunday over the visiting New Orleans Saints when Keenum threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stephon Diggs during the final seconds of the NFC Divisional round playoff matchup. The win sends the Vikings to the NFC championship this Sunday in Philadelphia against the underdog Eagles.
Keenum joined Fox Sports’ Chris Myers after the game to talk about what happened. Keenum was still trying to process the shocking turn of events that gave his team the victory. To sum it all up, Keenum rated the Vikings win as the “third best moment” of his life.
“It’s probably going to go down as the third best moment of my life behind giving my life to Jesus Christ and marrying my wife,” Keenum told Myers, “and this was right there, close.”
Keenum has had a hard road to get to where he currently sits in the NFL. He wasn’t even the Vikings starting quarterback at the beginning of this season. But, Keenum has been playing from behind since entering the NFL back in 2012, and through it all, he has maintained his close relationship with his faith.
Keenum met his wife, Kimberly, when they were in high school attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event in Texas. From there, Keenum would go on to be the starting quarterback at the University of Houston (UH), where he would become the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) all-time leader in passing yards, leaving all other quarterbacks in the dust.
You would think with that kind of pedigree Keenum would’ve been a hot prospect on any NFL general manager’s draft board.
But, he wasn’t. Because Keenum played at UH — a school notorious for primarily focusing on the passing game — his stock wasn’t as high as one would think. In fact, Keenum wasn’t drafted at all and signed on with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent.
Once in Houston, it took a while for Keenum to even suit up on Sundays. His entire rookie season was spent on the Texans practice squad — which meant that, while Keenum would practice with the team, he wouldn’t dress for the actual games.
Keenum persevered and made the coaches take notice of him in 2013. He started eight games that year in the wake of the Texans transitioning away from the failed experiment that was current Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub. Despite decent statistics, Keenum didn’t win a single game in 2013 and, during the offseason, was waived by the Texans.
Keenum signed with the then-St. Louis Rams and he was eventually delegated to their practice squad. In an ironic twist, the Texans signed Keenum back from the Rams practice squad to their active roster. He started two games in 2014.
During the 2015 offseason, Keenum was traded back to the Rams to be the backup for newly acquired quarterback Nick Foles. Foles had been traded to the Rams from the Philadelphia Eagles for the current Vikings backup quarterback Sam Bradford.
I told you Keenum’s journey was long and winding. But that isn’t the end of the story.
In January 2016, the Rams officially announced that they would move the franchise from St. Louis to Los Angeles, prompting yet another move for Keenum and his wife. He was announced as the starting quarterback of the Rams for the 2016 season, but Keenum was under constant pressure after the Rams had drafted quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick in that year’s draft. A little more than midway through the season, Goff replaced Keenum as the starting quarterback — a move that many saw coming.
The 2017 season brought a stroke of luck for Keenum, as he signed with the Vikings in March to be their backup quarterback to the man he took over for in St. Louis — Sam Bradford. After Bradford suffered an injury, and with former franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still on the mend, Keenum took over for the Vikings in week two and hasn’t looked back since. Keenum’s play — along with the Vikings stout defense — has the boys from Minnesota one game away from the biggest game of the year. With Sunday’s miracle touchdown against the Saints, Keenum’s stock is higher than ever.
In another ironic twist, Keenum will be facing the Philadelphia Eagles to see who will go to the Super Bowl. The quarterback for that team? None other than the man he replaced in Los Angeles, Nick Foles.
But, despite Keenum’s new found success at the highest level of football, his wife Kimberly says that no matter the ups and downs they’ve experienced throughout Case’s career, their faith “also helped keep us grounded.”
“A lot of people talk about the negative along the way, but I really feel like it’s been a great experience for us,” Kimberly told Lindsey Young of Vikings.com. “Everything we’ve been through, God has always been there in our lives.”
What a long, strange trip it's been. Houston to St. Louis, back to Houston, back again to St. Louis, St. Louis to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Minnesota. Sometimes keeping the faith is all you need to get by.
For video of Keenum's post game interview from Sunday, watch below:
Sources: Pro Football Reference