Hometown : Manhattan, Kan.
College: Kansas State University
Born: May 31, 1985
Team: Green Bay Packers
Position : Wide Receiver
• 2007 NCAA All-American
• 2nd-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers (2008)
•Super Bowl XLV Champion
“Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
I’m proud to say that I’m a small-town country boy through and through.
My brother, sister and I were raised on a farm north of Manhattan, Kan., and, as part of a farming family, we learned the value of hard work, which has helped me in all aspects of life.
It wasn’t all work and no play, though, as sports were a huge part of our family. My parents were athletic, and all three of us kids played sports from youth to high school and beyond.
When it came to matters of faith, I grew up going to church with my family on Sundays, but that’s about as deep as my faith went. I was a member of our high school’s FCA Huddle, and, while I may not have embraced it at the time, FCA did help me begin to see how faith and sports could be intermixed.
It may seem funny, but football wasn’t my favorite sport. I liked basketball better. But, as I grew older, I realized that my best shot at playing sports in college was through football. Based on my success in high school, I got the opportunity to walk on at Kansas State University. I knew walking on was going to be tough and much different than high school, and it definitely wasn’t much fun going from being the star to sitting on the sidelines for my first two years.
In my redshirt-sophomore season I started to play a little more, but I suffered a knee injury the following year that hampered my game. Since I’d never experienced a serious athletic injury, that was an incredibly challenging situation. All of a sudden I was missing games and not knowing what the future held.
With nowhere to turn, I looked to God to provide me with strength to make it through. He truly was the One I relied on during that time. I called out to Him in prayer often and chose to believe that things happened for a reason and that He had everything under control.
My girlfriend, Emily—who is now my wife— moved to Manhattan that year after finishing her own college basketball career at Bethel College (Kan.). With her support, I began to go deeper in my faith and eventually recommitted my life to Christ. I realized that I was called to be the spiritual leader in our relationship, which would require more of me than just talking the talk.
The following year, with my knee injury behind me and a new focus in life, I had a big season at K-State. It was awesome being able to contribute to the team in a major way after feeling so constrained the year before. That season, God showed me that He had a bigger plan for me in football than what my limited perspective had seen just one year before.
In 2008, I was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, and my wife and I headed to Wisconsin. Once we got to Green Bay, we saw that God had placed us in the perfect environment for our small-town family. Being part of the Packers organization gave us so many opportunities to help people in the community, and we still try to do as much as we can to spread God’s truth through our words and actions.
On the team, I’m blessed to have a great support system of Christian men who are open about their faith. Our chaplain, Troy Murphy, leads team Bible studies and chapel services, and our head coach, Mike McCarthy, leads us in prayer before every game. There are all kinds of stumbling blocks at this level, but I’ve surrounded myself with guys who are grounded in Christ. Being able to lean on them and talk openly about our faith has helped strengthen us as individuals and as teammates.
After we won the Super Bowl last season, my wife and I reflected on how far we’d come as believers in Christ. Yes, the team had reached the pinnacle of the sport, but personally, we’re still the same people we’ve always been. It just proved that life is about so much more than football.
Now, as a husband, father and, most importantly, as a Christian, I can see the Super Bowl Champion label with a greater perspective. I know it’s an opportunity to share the most important truth of life: the gospel of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Originally Published: November 2011
Photos courtesy of the Green Bay Packers