XFL kicker ‘never loses faith’ in God’s plan throughout ups and downs of career

Nick Novak has experienced a lot of beginnings in his football career, which may be why the Latin mantra “nunc coepi” has made an impression on him.

The phrase, which means “now I begin,” is a saying used often by Decatur native Philip Rivers, who just moved from quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers to free agent.

Novak played with Rivers when the team was still in San Diego and Rivers’ mantra stuck with Novak.

“[It basically means] you can’t hang your head no matter what happens good or bad. Start over. If something great happens on the field, always give glory to God and move on to the next opportunity,” Novak said.

‘I thank God’

“Now I begin” parallels Novak’s professional career too.

Signed as a free agent by the Chicago Bears in 2005 after a First-Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference career at Maryland, Novak spent time on eight NFL rosters, played in NFL Europe and in the United Football League. In 2019, he played with the Birmingham Iron, an Alliance of American Football team, until the league folded after a single season.

Now Novak is a placekicker for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL, a new professional football league that began play in February.

His resiliency to keep playing comes from his faith.

“God gave me that characteristic to keep bouncing back. He blessed me, not necessarily kicking a football, but He gave me a work ethic and set in my mind to be the best that I can be as a kicker and to spend 20-something years doing it. First and foremost I thank God for that,” Novak said.

Novak played with the Chargers more than any team, three stints. He was there in 2010, 2011–14 and in 2017 after the move to Los Angeles.

A back injury forced the Chargers to put him on injured reserve in 2017, and he sat out professional football in 2018.

Wherever he’s been, he’s connected with other Christians in the community. That was true in Birmingham, which helped when the season ended abruptly.

“There are always ups and downs in our profession. You learn what you are made of, what your mind can handle, what your body can handle,” Novak said.

‘Most important thing’

Athletics often presents adversity, but adversity is not necessarily a bad thing, Novak said.

“[Adversity] helps you raise your game and come back even stronger the next time,” he said.

And a relationship with Christ is the most important thing during times of adversity, Novak said.

“In our profession, it is important for us to bounce back and be there for each other and be a great teammate,” he said. “In this season of our lives, the next most important thing is to try to win the next game. I never lose faith.”