Bronson Kaufusi's NFL preseason finale included baptizing Packers teammate

Former BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, shown here during the NFL combine in 2016, had perhaps one of the most unique preseason weeks in league history. The Packers tight end baptized teammate Christian Uphoff after Green Bay's preseason finale Saturday against the Bills.

Former BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, shown here during the NFL combine in 2016, had perhaps one of the most unique preseason weeks in league history. The Packers tight end baptized teammate Christian Uphoff after Green Bay's preseason finale Saturday against the Bills. (Michael Conroy, Associated Press)



AROUND THE SHIELD — Twenty-six snaps on offense, five more on special teams — and a baptism the next day.

Former BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi may have just had the most unique preseason finale in NFL history.

The current Packers tight end wrapped up the NFL preseason in Green Bay with a few snaps as he continues to transition from defense to offense. But after Saturday's 19-0 loss to Buffalo, Kaufusi may have helped Green Bay teammate Christian Uphoff in an even more incredible way.

He revealed Monday on Instagram "one of the coolest experiences I've ever had" after baptizing Uphoff as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday.

"Meet my teammate and friend Christian Uphoff, @cnuphof was baptized yesterday and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost," wrote Kaufusi, who served a two-year church mission in New Zealand. "From fishing, to lessons, scripture studies, prayers, blessings and to him making the decision to follow Christ. I'm so grateful to be a piece of his story and journey. Excited for his future!"

In less than two hours, the post had been liked around 2,000 times, including by former BYU teammates Matt Bushman, Mitch Mathews and Khyiris Tonga, as well as Packers teammates Oren Burks, Shemar Jean-Charles and Reggie Begelton, among others.

Uphoff, who made two tackles in 50 snaps at safety against the Bills, signed with the Packers May 14 as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound rookie knew the NFL draft could be out of reach after the Redbirds canceled the 2020 fall season due to the pandemic, and made more difficult when his team opted out of most of the FCS spring season, as well.

On top of that, Uphoff injured his hamstring less than a month before his pro day, which was run in biting cold in Normal, Illinois. So like most undrafted rookies, he started to look up backup plans. And the top of his list, as he told his agent, were the Packers — for some reason.

"Before the draft, me and my agent were talking and he was like, 'If you don't get drafted, where do you want to go?'" Uphoff told Packers reporters last week. "I was like, 'Green Bay.'

"I just knew Green Bay was a good place for undrafted free agents."

Uphoff has put himself in position to make the 53-man team when the Packers make their final cuts by Tuesday. He's considered by most media to be one of the fringe players on the cut line, much like Kaufusi.

Whether they make the cut or not, they'll both have something else in common, though: membership in the same church.

"It's just a game, and whatever happens happens," Uphoff said. "As long as you work your butt off and give it everything you've got, you've got nothing to be ashamed of."

Kaufusi, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound end out of BYU, was a third-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. After initially signing a four-year, $3.45 million contract with the Ravens, Kaufusi was cut after he missed all of 2016 with a broken ankle and waived prior to the 2018 season.

From there, he signed with the New York Jets' practice squad, where New York tried to remold Kaufusi into a tight end. He signed a reserve/futures contract on Dec. 30, 2019, but was waived after his practice-squad contract expired on Jan. 11, 2021.

From there, the 30-year-old Timpview High product whose father Steve coached at BYU and mother Michelle is the current mayor of Provo signed a reserve/future deal with the Packers on Jan. 15.

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