It is the last week of the football season, and if you’ve been keeping score, you will know that there are still 7 teams that i have not yet featured in blog posts this season. So for my final Throwback Thursday post, I will share stories of former players from 3 of those teams. Then on Monday, I will give quick glances at stories of current players from the final 4 teams.
To start things off, I will draw your attention to the story of former Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander. He played for 8 seasons with the Seahawks after they made him the 19th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Twice he led the NFL in rushing TDs, in 2005 he lead the NFL with 1,880 rushing yards. This earned him the league MVP award. He was named to 3 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro teams. He finished his career with the Washington Redskins. He has been very outspoken about his faith in God over the years. Check out this video from CBN.
My takeaway from Alexander’s story:
1- Know your opponent – Alexander talks about studying the opponent and getting an advantage over them because of it. This was modeled for him by a defensive teammate. Alexander took the idea to heart and learned everything he could about his opponent, knowing that it would help him defeat the adversary. The Bible teaches us the same lesson. There are lots of things that we can learn about Jesus and about how all He did to show God’s love to all mankind. One of the things that he models over and over, that doesn’t get a lot of attention is how He handled attacks from the enemy, Satan. We see in Matthew 4, Satan comes to tempt Jesus in several different ways – offering him necessities, power and fame. At each challenge, Jesus counters with scripture and doesn’t give in. Jesus later (John 8) gives us insight into the devil’s tricks calling him a liar and the father of lies. And throughout the letters and the rest of the Bible, we read strategies for us to stand against the enemy: Putting on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6); drawing near to God and resisting Satan (James 4); Learning scriptures (Psalm 119.11). Satan is real, but we need not be afraid. God has been victorious over Satan, and gives us insight to the tricks he will come at us with, and how to resist those temptations. Study the Bible. Ask God to show you the lies of the enemy and draw near to Him.
Next up is David Garrard, former quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Garrard was drafted in the 4th round of the 2002 draft. He would start a few games here and there as an injury replacement, but mostly spent his time as a backup behind Mark Brunell and then Byron Leftwich. Adding to the challenges of making it as and NFL quarterback, Garrard was diagnosed in Crohn’s Disease in 2004. The diagnosis was met with surgery to remove a portion of his intestines. Check out the story of his career shared also with CBN as he shares about the search to fill the void in his life without God and his battle with Crohn’s Disease.
Garrard would be the starter in Jacksonville for 5 seasons. He made an appearance in the Pro Bowl in 2009.
Here is my takeaway from Garrard’s story:
No Longer Needed – Garrard had been in place as the starter for 5 seasons in Jacksonville. in 2010He had just put up one of his better years statistically. But the Jaguars had drafted a quarterback in the first round and that normally means they will be the new starter and sooner rather than later. For Garrard, the arrival of Blaine Gabbert meant the end of the run in Jacksonville for him. He tells the story in the video of being announced at a team luncheon and then, 2 hours later, being told that he had been cut. It is a hard thing to deal with when you are replaced. It doesn’t matter if it is in a job, in a relationship, in the celebrity news cycle, when that moment comes, there is an emptiness that can derail people. For Garrard, he said “How can you just throw me away? It really did feel like that. Like I said, if I didn’t have the Lord, it would have been rock bottom. That’s rock bottom for a lot of people. But I knew there was more for me.” Again in this story, we see the fallacy of living for other people – to do their bidding or to earn their approval. Garrard also talked about something he imagined his mom saying when he was filling empty and without purpose. He said “‘Well, Mom I’m trying to live for you, and trying to be a good person for you.’ And I started hearing her voice saying, ‘Don’t live for me, live for Jesus. Live for Jesus, because He is the Way.’”
That thought carried him through this cut and no doubt continues to sustain him in his post-football career. When we strive to win people over and live for them to fulfill us and give us purpose, we will often come up empty. Giving that much power to flawed sinners like us will always leave you empty. But God doesn’t leave us empty. He promises in Hebrews 13.5 to never leave or forsake us. He is not looking to move on the the next new believer that can come and take our place. He has a distinct purpose for each of us, and repeatedly offers us the chance to follow that purpose. Let’s live for Him alone and follow that purpose as it leads to a full and complete life.
And finally for today, former Raiders Offensive Lineman Steve Wisniewski. I am excited to share this story partially because I wrote a post about his nephew Stefan who also played for the Raiders a couple years back. Drafted in the second round of the 1989 draft, “The Wiz” played 13 seasons for the Raiders franchise, moving with them from L.A. to Oakland in 1995. During his tenure with the Raiders, Wisniewski was named to 8 Pro Bowls. He was an 8 time All Pro and was named the the 1990’s All-Decade Team. He has recently released a book called Hand on the Line. Here he is talking about his book and the purpose he sees for his life after football.
In the video we hear Wisniewski talk about getting hit by a car when he was 3 years old and how he broke both legs and grew up walking with a limp. Part of his story is how God helped him overcome this to be a star in the NFL.
Here are my takeaways from Wisniewski’s story.
Seeing, not knowing – He talks about getting recognized out in public when he was playing for the raiders. People would see him and talk to him, they knew about him but they didn’t really know him as a person at all. I agree with what he said about how there are some people like this in our churches today. People who know about God, know what the religion of Christianity believes but have no relationship with God. In Matthew 7, Jesus says “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’” He isn’t talking to those who wanted nothing to do with Him, He was talking to the people who thought they were doing the right thing. But they missed the relationship.
Lean on each other – In Mark 6, Jesus sends out the disciples in groups of 2. This falls under the category of stuff that I know but have never thought about before. Why did he send them out in pairs? Wisniewski suggests that it was because we need each other to lean on for strength and encouragement in this life truly lived for Him. Who are your partners in God’s work? How can you encourage someone in following God’s purposes today?