“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella was highly coveted in his class because of his astounding speed and athleticism. Running one of the fastest 40 yard dashes in the NFL combine, Isabella became the first player ever to be drafted by the Arizona Cardinals out of the University of Massachusetts. Quickly becoming known for his first touchdown reception, an 88-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyler Murray in week 9, he has continued to be a piece of the Cardinals team as they look to continue building in upcoming seasons. But for Isabella, even more important than his performance on the field is what he does off of it.
Born and raised in Mayfield, Ohio, Andy Isabella and his talent were known from an early age. He won the state title in track his senior year for the 100-meter dash, and also became a force on the football field as well. Growing up, faith was an important part of life. From a Catholic household, Isabella says that his relationship with his mom and her strong faith helped him to develop into the athlete and person that he is today. Committing to UMass, Isabella had one of the best collegiate careers a wide receiver could imagine. Drafted by the Cardinals, his future was just beginning.
As Isabella has now just completed his second year in the NFL, he says that his faith has been keeping him grounded throughout the process. “My faith has influenced me in my career because it has given me hope. I know that even through all the pains and heartaches that come with football, God is always with me and that I have nothing to fear.” That faith has helped Isabella get through both the ups and downs that have accompanied him throughout his career. Facing an uphill battle since day 1, he has relied on his faith to give him strength and overcome everything that gets in his way. “My faith has helped me overcome a lot of obstacles in my football career. Football has made my faith stronger knowing that I was able to overcome all the obstacles in my life and that I could never do it by myself and if it wasn’t for the gifts God gave me.”
Since being in the NFL, Isabella has also been looking for ways to use his platform to make an impact in his community. During his time in the NFL, Isabella has participated in the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign, where players have the opportunity to wear specially designed cleats to support causes close to their heart. Andy Isabella supported Kids of 216, a vocational school that helps at-risk youth. He says that having the opportunity to give back means everything to him. “It was great to help give back to kids that have been given a harder road than myself and try to help them find meaningful work to help support themselves.” Isabella says that helping make an impact like that is what makes it all worth it. “Initiatives like that are much needed and is what God called all of us to do here with our time on earth. We are all servants to each other. More people need to start serving then wanting to be served.”
As Isabella now looks towards the upcoming 2021 season, he continues to focus on ways he can use his platform to give back. Although his young career has brought with it both positive and negative experiences, he says he is using it all to grow and make a difference not only on the field, but in the community as well. Moving forward, Isabella anticipates the future and the opportunity to continue to use his gifts on the field to inspire others.
*Photos courtesy of UMass Athletics