Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach/Latter-day Saint Porter Ellett and his young son and daughter, Brigham and Piper, enjoy the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City on Feb. 25, 2023. Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco fastens a Super Bowl champions cap atop the head of Brigham Ellett, son of Chiefs assistant coach Porter Ellett. (Photo courtesy of the Ellett family)
Super Bowl LVII victory highlights unforgettable NFL season for Latter-day Saint/Chiefs coach & his family
Porter and Carlie Ellett reflect on their blessings & trials defining thrilling, exhausting pro football campaign
By Jason Swensen
21 Feb 2023
He will also never forget the hero’s welcome from his fellow ward members and neighbors when he returned to his home after the Big Game.
And, yes, it was thrilling to participate with his family in a Super Bowl victory parade through the crowd-lined streets of Kansas City.
But Ellett is a coach in the National Football League — and the term “off-season” is a misnomer. Even while reveling in the Chiefs’ historic win, he could never forget that the 30 NFL teams that did not advance to the Super Bowl were enjoying a head-start prepping for the 2023 season.
“We are already on to the next season,” Ellett told Church Ball Magazine. “We’re looking at players and the upcoming draft and figuring out what we will be doing next.”
His wife, Carlie Ellett, added if there’s a downside to reaching the Super Bowl, it's that participating players and coaches (and their families) have less time to catch their breath after a grueling NFL season.
“Porter already has his flights arranged for next week’s NFL Combine,” she said.
Still, the sports-loving couple say they will be forever grateful to have ended their 2022 NFL season with a resounding win.
“It was just such a blessing to be at the Super Bowl and then having our families there [in Phoenix], which was the main reason why we had the baby blessing for Griffin when we did,” said Porter Ellett. “We have overwhelming feelings of gratitude for having the opportunity to be doing what we are doing.”
The 2022 NFL season marked Porter Ellett’s third year as the Chiefs offensive quality control coach. Prior to that, he served three seasons as the senior assistant to the head coach, fellow Latter-day Saint Andy Reid.
Before joining the Chiefs staff, the returned missionary worked as a graduate assistant at Baylor University and, while pursuing his undergraduate degree, was an equipment room attendant for the Brigham Young University football team.
He also trains and competes in Paralympic swimming and triathlons.
Coach Ellett’s story is familiar to many Latter-day Saints. In 2008, a cover story in the Church’s New Era Magazine chronicled his high school athletic feats despite having only one arm. The Loa, Utah, native lost his right arm as a child following a car accident.
Carlie Ellett holds her infant son, Griffin, during the Feb. 15, 2023, Super Bowl victory parade through downtown Kansas City. (Photo courtesy of the Ellett family)
It’s something of a family joke that Carlie McKeon knew about Porter Ellett before the two ever met thanks to that New Era article. One evening, her grandfather showed her the New Era issue featuring Porter — then suggested that the two fellow BYU students would be great together.
“I told him, ‘Grandpa, BYU is huge — I’ll probably never even see that guy,” she said.
A few weeks later, she answered a knock at the door of her apartment. It was Porter Ellett collecting fast offerings. Soon the two became friends and eventually started dating. “I guess my grandpa can take credit for that one,” she said, laughing.
A season of victories — and family trials
The Elletts are the parents of three children — son Brigham, 5; daughter Piper, 3; and their infant son, Griffin.
“But Griffin was our first in-season baby. He was born right before the playoffs started,” said Carlie Ellett.
The challenges of caring for a newborn during the most hectic period of the NFL season were compounded when Baby Griffin became ill with RSV just two weeks after his birth.
“We were in the hospital for about a week in the middle of the playoffs,” she said. “So when Porter said the whole season has been a whirlwind and we are all mentally exhausted, it’s really true. Having a newborn presented its own set of challenges.
“Let’s just say this,” added Carlie Ellett, with a laugh, “I won’t be having another baby during the football season.”
Even during the most pressure-packed moments of the season, Porter Ellett said his family was always at the forefront “of everything I was doing.”
The coach found guidance in Elder David A. Bednar’s observation that balance is a myth. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Bednar taught that a person is only capable of doing one thing at any given moment. “If I’m at home — then I need to be home,” said Elder Bednar. “If you are serving in Church, then be engaged in the service.”
This year, when he was performing his coaching duties, Porter Ellett focused full energy and attention on the Chiefs. “And then when I was home, I needed to be supporting my wife and my children — especially when Griffin was sick.”
He added that Coach Reid and the other coaches were especially supportive when the baby was ill.
Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Porter Ellett, left, and the Chiefs’ All-Pro tight end, Travis Kelce, enjoy a light-hearted moment following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII victory. (Photo courtesy of the Ellett family)
The Kansas City Chiefs have a unique Latter-day Saint presence. Besides Reid and Ellett, the team’s coaching staff includes fellow Church member Alex Whittingham, the defensive quality control coach. A pair of Latter-day Saint players — Zayne Anderson and Matt Bushman — were rostered on the team’s practice squad in 2022. (Anderson was traded to the Buffalo Bills last week.)
Meanwhile, NFL veteran/returned missionary Daniel Sorensen played for the Chiefs for several seasons prior to 2022.
“It’s nice to be able to have those conversations with the other members at work — just to be able to talk about Church or what's going on at Church or maybe something that happened during general conference,” he said.
The Church/Chiefs connection, he added, is well known throughout the organization. “You would be surprised how much the players know about the Church and are interested in our beliefs.”
Carlie Ellett also appreciates her husband’s unique work environment.
“Porter has had opportunities to give blessings to players, and Coach Reid has asked for blessings in the past. Those have been some of Porter’s most spiritual experiences,” she said.
While the business of professional football never sleeps, the Elletts are looking forward to spending some time away from the sport before the 2023 season begins. The coach is planning to visit his rural Utah home and working on the family farm. “I still like to get back home and help with the chores.”
And what would a Super Bowl victory be without a subsequent visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
“The kids are pretty excited to go to Disneyland,” said Carlie Ellett.