He looked around – cameras clicking and sports stars were everywhere wearing sharp, designer suits and high-fashion gowns. His best friend, wife Kimberly, stood by him looking radiant in a gorgeous red dress. Case Keenum was at the 2018 ESPYs and in just a few short hours, he would take the stage with Stefon Diggs to accept an award for “Best Moment.”
While most snapping the photos and asking interview questions likely attributed the Minneapolis Miracle to bolstering Keenum to NFL fame, he and his wife knew exactly what led them there:
“This is God’s story and we’re trying to show a little piece of what He’s done in our lives. You can’t deny that God’s got his fingerprints all over it.”
It’s a story that goes all the way back to a West Texas community and a local FCA office. Keenum’s father, a former football coach and the current FCA Director in Abeline, Texas, instilled in him early on the importance of God, hard work and faith.
“My dad got saved at an FCA event early in high school so he always encouraged me to go to the FCA huddle and FCA camps in summer," he said. "[All of my family members] got recruited for FCA. We were the kids running around at camp, he even had us licking envelopes at times… we were his little helpers.”
His dad wasn’t only his coach and FCA leader, but also his hero, as he modeled to Keenum a father’s love.
“He was always there after games to give me a hug and tell me he’s proud of me. Dad taught me how to throw a football. He’s had the biggest impact on my life in terms of coaches.”
Having Dad as a coach helped Keenum uncover a talent and passion for sports, and it put him around other athletes who would also make a great impact on his life.
“Seeing these cool guys running and throwing the football around, I wanted to be just like them. I threw a football like them, I talked like them," said Keenum. "I could tell something was different about the Christian athletes. I sought that out and I found out it was Jesus in their lives.”
Thanks to their influence, Keenum gave his life to Christ.
He stayed involved in FCA huddles, camps and the FCA leadership staff in high school. His junior year, he noticed a girl who attended a different high school from him who also served on FCA leadership staff. The two started dating and eventually wound up at the University of Houston together. They married in 2011.
Like many who follow Jesus at a young age, Keenum says his faith really became real in college. As a starter in high school, he was used to success. In college, things got harder. not only in the game but also in life.
“I wasn’t a fun person to be around," he admitted. "I made football everything – I wanted to put so much into it and be competitive. I wasn’t healthy as a person – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I felt like if I wasn’t as good of a football player, I wasn’t good all around.”
Thankfully, FCA chaplain Mikado Hinson (now at Texas A&M) was there for Keenum and began to disciple him.
“He told me football is not the most important thing - this is not who I am.”
All throughout college, Hinson poured into Keenum. He supported him as an injury threatened he might not play again. He continued to support him as he recovered and went on to play professionally. Playing for six teams in seven years meant few things stayed the same for Keenum, but his relationship with Jesus, love of his wife, and support from his family and Hinston stayed the same. Keenun and Hinston are best friends today.
Said Keenum, “Mikado helped me be a better believer and have a stronger faith. It’s a lesson I continually learn when my flesh tries to fall back on old thoughts and feelings I have, but I’ve learned when things are going well, and things going bad, keep my eyes on Jesus.”
It’s an important lesson in a great story God’s continuing to write.
When you break records and make NFL history, you’re bound to receive a lot of attention. As Keenum has become widely known, he’s made sure that FCA and his relationship with Jesus are part of his story. And, he’s found he’s not alone.
“There’s a lot of solid guys in the NFL. It’s cool to see guys at the highest level of the sport unashamed with their faith first of all, but also unwavering in their faith," he said.
Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum
"These guys don’t only talk about their faith, they live it out with their families, on their teams, and as men of God. And, they’re sharing their experiences and helping younger guys like me try to do the same thing. I’m definitely encouraged. I’ve learned a lot.”
Thanks to the discipleship and encouragement Keenum’s received from coaches his entire life, he’s committed to passing it on and making disciples of Jesus, too.
Said Keenum, “We’re all called to be disciples, that’s what Matthew 28 says. The verse means whatever you’re doing, make disciples. And that’s not just for pastors, deacons and elders… that’s for ALL of us - everybody.
"So whether you work for FCA, you’re a football player, a businessman, a teacher… make disciples. It’s what those guys are doing with me… they’re getting filled up, they’re filling me up, and now I’m trying to pass it on.”
Keenum is currently preparing to pass it on as he prepares to play on a new team. He recently signed a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos. But he’s also passing on encouragement through Christian sports. He speaks often at FCA events and he’s written a book, Playing for More, that tells the story of how God’s been faithful to him through good times and bad.
“People may only see my good times, but it’s through the tough times that I grew the most – it’s when God had me on the path He wanted for me. I hope to encourage people that they may have been told they can’t do something, or they’re not good enough, but God’s equipped you. He’s put you just where you need to be when you’re following Him. If you do all you can, and be the best with what He’s given you – He will be faithful.”
Need encouragement? Watch this video message from Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum!
Playing For More: Trust Beyond What You Can See
By Case Keenun
Throughout Playing for More, Case Keenum will explain how being a Christian helped him navigate the winding path to success. No matter what obstacle has been placed in front of him, Case believes God has a plan for him. That’s why he plays football and that’s why he’s writing this book: To glorify God and to help others who face adversity in their everyday life.
Click HERE to purchase your copy today!