Steve Beuerlein
Steve Beuerlein
" You need to understand you are going to fail once in a while.

" Steve Beuerlein
When Steve Beuerlein was trapped in the pressure cooker at Notre Dame and the National Football League, he’d turn to prayer.

“I don’t know where I would have ended up without faith,” said Beuerlein, a retired quarterback who will be keynote speaker Oct. 18 at the Champions of Faith dinner benefitting Oregon’s Catholic Youth Organization and Camp Howard.

Beuerlein, who lives in Orange County, grew up in Southern California and played CYO basketball and football there.

He has vivid memories of youth sport high points, including being named one of two outstanding young divers in California alongside the legendary Greg Louganis. He also boomed his first home run to help his team win a California youth baseball title.

He learned in both instances to focus on the task at hand, because for that moment, nothing is bigger.

Even more important, Beuerlein explains, youth sports helped him understand his own competitive drive and how to focus it effectively. As a young boy, a perceived failure would lead to lost composure. With the help of good parents, coaches and a strong faith foundation, he developed resilience toward struggle and failure.

“You need to understand you are going to fail once in a while,” he said. “After you do, you’ve got to find a way to keep playing.”

Laughing, Beuerlein admits he still has flares of temper at himself on the golf course.

“When I was a kid, sports was all I could think about,” Beuerlein said. “I wanted to get out and compete. I knew I was born for sports.” Luckily for him, his parents emphasized academics over athletics and so he was able to succeed even at academically challenging Notre Dame.

Beuerlein calls his parents’ decision to send him and his siblings to Catholic school one of his life’s most important moments. He sent his own children to Catholic schools.

“When kids are put in an environment where prayer and faith are part of their daily lives and they are taught that it’s ok to openly express themselves and their beliefs and what they stand for they benefit greatly from that,” he said.

After attending Catholic grade school, he was a four-sport letterman at Servite High, an all-boys Catholic school in Anaheim. He led Servite to a 1982 regional football championship. In the first game of that season, he played against Ohio’s famed Moeller High School. Beuerlein's performance caught the eye of Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust, who had also coached at Moeller before taking the Notre Dame post. After Servite went on to win its final 11 games, Faust offered Beuerlein a scholarship to play football in South Bend.

Beuerlein entered Notre Dame in 1983 and was a four-year starter, dealing with coaching controversies and an injured shoulder. He believes he should have healed more, but kept playing. He did quite well, but not up to his own high standards.

Beuerlein remembers going to the chapel in the wee hours in Notre Dame’s Sorin Hall to seek God’s guidance.

He played his last and best year at Notre Dame under legendary coach Lou Holtz who credits Beuerlein’s senior year team with providing the leadership and example that set the tone for Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship. Beuerlein still holds many Notre Dame records.

He wouldn’t trade his Notre Dame campus life experience for anything.

He was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1987 NFL draft and later spent time with Dallas, Arizona, Jacksonville, Carolina and Denver. He had three 3,000-yard passing seasons in the NFL and holds many passing records for the Carolina Panthers, including a 4,436-yard season. In all, he started 100 games in 17 seasons in the NFL.

But he never had it easy. Coaching changes or injuries often left life uncertain. But coaches — new or old — knew Beuerlein was intrepid and innovative and they wanted him on their teams. “What I proved is that I was going to be able to figure it out and adjust and be able to play,” he said.

In 2004, Beuerlein joined CBS Sports as a game analyst for The NFL on CBS where he provided color commentary. Beuerlein now calls college football games on the radio for Compass Media.

He also works as a commercial insurance broker. He has two sons and two daughters who range in age from 16 to 25. None of them, he says with a chuckle, inherited his competitive zeal.

“They are into different things, and they are awesome,” he said.