Ninety years after slavery, blacks were still segregated from whites. They still had separate drinking fountains, separate restrooms, separate neighborhoods, and separate schools. They still were expected to sit at the back of the bus.
A football player at any level must set goals.
You grow up a certain way, and you make decisions within your family, but then you go to college, and the decisions become harder. You are away from home, from the influence of your parents, dealing with peer pressure. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in college.
We all have the same problem as human beings. And it’s something that we are born with, and we just see it manifest in different ways. And in this situation, it’s racial. It’s brutality. It’s people breaking the law. It’s the smoke, but the underlying fire is something that we all have to deal with, and that’s our sin.
Fortunately for me, I had a father who didn’t let us get away with anything. You were taught respect, and you were taught to be humble. That has a lot to do with how I am now, because I’m still scared of my dad.
I have been pulled over, and I have actually worried, ‘Is something going to happen to me even though I am a law abiding citizen?’ That is a real fear and is something that we have to come to grips with.
I respect the police officers, but something you learn as a young black man in this country is that… life is a little bit different for you even though, on the surface, it seems to be the same.
The police officer’s job is to respect the citizens that they are in control of.
I sometimes think they should have said ‘Black Lives Matter Too,’ because that is really what is being said. The outcry is that historically and presently, the feeling is that black lives don’t matter as much as white lives because we don’t see the same type of things happening to them.
Sometimes listening is of greater value than speaking.
Before competition, as I stand in shoulder pads and cleats, my helmet in my left hand, adrenaline flowing and my heart raging under my right, I never forget the ills of America, but for a moment I envision its potential, remember its prosperity, and give thanks to God for the land He has placed me in and the people I love who live in it.
Conflict, when handled correctly, strengthens.
Conflict, when mismanaged, destroys.
People are hurting and looking for answers. The Gospel gives us hope.
The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the gospel.
Sin is the reason we rebel against authority.
Sin is the reason we abuse our authority.
Sin is the reason we are racist, prejudiced, and lie to cover for our own.
I think God does a lot of things in different ways.
When someone mistreats you, the correct reaction is not to go out and do something to destroy somebody else’s property.
I can identify many different experiences that I’ve had over the course of my life and things that I’ve witnessed where it seemed that black men, specifically me or someone else may have got the, you know, different treatment than somebody else would in that same situation.
For everybody, I think that we all, when we look at this situation of race, we need a change of heart, and I said it before. I believe the heart change comes from repenting of your racism, repenting of your bias, repenting of your prejudice and understanding that, you know what, God sees us all the same.
We need to get our hearts straight. And after we get the hearts straight, we can treat each other straight.
We need to look at truth. We need to look at justice, and we need to look at righteousness. And let that be our guide going forward.
One of the biggest things we have to be able to do is to handle conflict and handle it correctly. We’re able to look at our biases, look at our frustration, look at our sin in this area, our pride and our selfishness. It allows us to move forward.
What doesn’t allow us to move forward because when we simply – and I’ve seen it on social media; it really, really upsets me – is to get in our corners and call names and turn our back to each other.
The only one who can change the heart of man is the Lord. And that will make us want to make things fair for other people.
There shouldn’t be any looting or anything like that. But we’re seeing a lot of frustration, and nobody knows the answer. All of us are saying we need an answer, and what I’m saying is we need, all of us, a heart change so, as America, we can move forward.
There’s no reason ever to steal because you’re upset.
I would say that one of the hardest things for an athlete, and really anybody of any profession, is that we create our identity in what we do.
It’s been a constant struggle with my athletic career to identify myself as a child of God and understand that His love is unconditional for us; it’s not conditional like fans, or coaches, or even myself.
Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly for the Lord and not for man, because our true identity is in Him.
Sometimes, we feel like we don’t want to offend people, but there are times that we need to express ourselves without fear that somebody is going to shut us down simply because we have differing opinions. That’s how we grow.
The thing that happened in Ferguson touched many of us in a specific way.
What I do is play football. What I do doesn’t change who I am and who God sees me as.
We are God’s children. We are Christians first, and then what we do flows from that.
Make sure you know your identity is in Christ, so that when you get laid off from your job, or when you get a raise from your job, or when things don’t go right, you’re not up and down, up and down.
I felt unworthy, and it’s amazing how God kind of showed me that that’s how we act as humans, and that’s sometimes how we act in our Christian life.
We all have faults.
We all doubt sometimes, and that’s okay, but He’s always there. He’s always faithful even when we’re not.
I think, as athletes, we’ve been given a platform, and we can use it in a lot of different ways. We can use it for negative. We can use it for positive. We can be indifferent. But if you’ve been given a platform, I think God is pleased when you share… His truth in love.
I’ve heard my father say that the man is to be the priest, the provider, and the protector of his family. He’s the priest because he is the spiritual leader, monitoring and growing the spiritual temperature of his family.
In the same way that I cannot be perfect and need grace for my mistakes, I also need to give my kids grace. I am constantly learning to be patient with them, understanding that they won’t do everything right all the time, while still holding them to a high standard, as their heavenly father does.
Our loyalty is not to our grandparents, the traditions, our volleyball team, our friends; as believers, our loyalty is to Scripture.
All I’m saying is, is God the god who we look to for comfort during tragedies? Is he the god who can control all those things, or is he the god that we don’t even trust with our daily lives… As long as there’s prayer and exams, as long as there’s games, there will be prayers.
I don’t approve of many of the attacks of Black Lives Matter. I don’t.
There comes a place where you need to respect. When people are speaking, you don’t comment.
There are certain things you don’t say that’s disrespectful. They detract from the point you’re trying to make.
Most of the guys in the NFL would sit here and tell you we don’t condone the abuse of a child, any sort of abuse of a woman, breaking rules, failing drug tests, or doing any of those things. We hold ourselves to a very high standard.
You’ve got a league with a couple thousand players or so depending on the time of year. Then you have 10 or more very high profile stories that are terrible stories and things that have happened.
For policemen to be honest about the fact that they may be fearful when they come into a certain situation, not understanding what’s going to happen. The only way things will change and things will get better is if people are able to be honest without feeling like they’re going to be offended, or they’re going to offend someone else.
Guys are playing fantasy football; some guys I think even play fantasy baseball. I don’t get involved with it. I have five kids; I just don’t have time. Not that anything’s wrong with the fantasy, but I just don’t have time for it with my lifestyle.
Goals give you a mark to shoot for and keep you motivated when you face adversity.
My goals in football helped make me disciplined and focused in all areas of my life.
I can tell my grandkids that I played with Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and Flacco will definitely be added to that list.
In order to win in this league, you have to have a quarterback who can make all the throws, who makes great decisions, somebody who can get you out of bad situations, that just gives you a chance.
When you are a free agent like I was, it definitely makes a big difference when you know there’s stability at the quarterback position.
There are certain teams in the NFL that have a certain aura about them, and there’s a certain respect level about them.
The amazing thing about a football team is we can disagree and fight like brothers, but then we come back together. We are able to be open and honest about things that may offend us.
White people think one thing and black people think another thing about the same event. And we automatically, before we really know what happened, kind of pick our sides.
The captain thing was really an honor, and it was really flattering for me. It was really something that I didn’t expect, and I would say that was the highlight of my career so far, being elected captain by my peers.
So much of football relates to Christian life – sacrifice, commitment, discipline.
I know God has a plan for me. I don’t know what it is.
My grandmother and my father always said I would end up as a missionary. Well, I feel like I am one now.
I’m a Georgia guy; we can run.
Amazingly, I think that a lot of times athletes are – are kind of in a position where other think they shouldn’t weigh in on certain social topics.
Overwhelmingly, I would say I’ve had really good support from many of my teammates and guys that I’ve played with. We want to be able to express our views. You know, we’re part of this country, too.
I would say that we all – in whatever world we’re in, whatever your occupation is, we all have a path to walk. We all have struggles.
When you go to work, you are a Christian at your workplace. You’re not a broadcaster who happens to be Christian. You’re a Christian.
It feels great, definitely feels great to have your number called and be a part of the offense.
I didn’t know if I was going to be drafted, period. I remember sitting there and just praying that whatever God has for me to happen, and I didn’t get any calls from anybody else the whole round. And then I got a call from New England five hours after the draft started.
I figure if you’re going to go to class, you might as well make an A.
If you’re going to play football, why not be the best at it that you can be and fulfill your potential?
Preacher’s kids usually go one way or the other – way wild, or they follow in their dad’s footsteps.
I have to learn the plays before I can worry about getting passes thrown to me.
You can be a great father if you are willing to let God use you as an instrument.
Jesus meets the physical needs of kids but also tells them how to save their soul.
God blessed me with great talent and good genetics. Plus, he blessed me with a good work ethic and a drive to want to be the best.
I pride myself on leaving no stone unturned as far as being the most prepared that I can be.
It sounds kind of cliche when teams say, ‘Us against the world,’ but that’s the mentality you have to have. There are so many opinions out there that come from media, that come from your family or come from people on TV.
Good players on good teams don’t get too high, don’t get too low. They’re even-keeled, and they go about their business the right way.
What I’ve found, and what Scripture tells us, is that your faith is not something on the side, something you carry with you – it is inherently who you are.
When you pass from death into the life, you become a new person, and so everything you do flows from that.
Athletes are in a position where others think they shouldn’t weigh in on certain social topics.
Usually, ‘All Lives Matter’ comes as a response to ‘Black Lives Matter’; it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. So when people say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ a lot of times the response ‘All Lives Matter’ can seem very condescending, dismissive to ‘Black Lives Matter.’
I think that part of the issue here is when people hear ‘Black Lives Matter,’ sometimes they think that someone is saying your life doesn’t matter, and that’s not what ‘Black Lives Matter,’ at least to me, is saying.
The reason why ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a chant is because a lot of people feel, myself included, that sometimes they don’t matter.
In the public, it seems to be painted that when minorities get pregnant, they need to get abortions, especially when it comes to teen pregnancy. It’s like, when black girls are pregnant, it’s like a statistic, but when white girls get pregnant, they get a TV show.
Writing a book is not a small undertaking, but God placed it on my heart to trust Him with such a project.
The only way to really cure what’s on the inside is understanding that Jesus Christ died for our sins.
You never really get to the point in any offense – even when I was in New England for six years – where things don’t change.
I’ve been blessed by God to be able to perform.
I’ve had a number of injuries; I’ve had a number of surgeries, and I’ve been able to bounce back from them. I attribute that to Him as much as me just trying to take care of myself as much as I can.
I think, over the time that you’re in the league, you learn what your body needs: you learn the amount of soft tissue work you need, the amount of dry needling, or the amount of sleep or your nutrition. You also understand that you have to pull back.
The NFL goes to great lengths to protect what it calls ‘the integrity of the game.’ The same should be said for us as individuals. Integrity, the truthful interaction of word and deed, not only creates leaders in the locker room who are worthy of being followed; it is also vital for success at home.
One thing I struggled with early in my career was the delicate balance between my performance and my identity. When things on the field went well, I was cheerful and felt important. When things went poorly, my countenance and self-concept plummeted, and I was not pleasant to be around.
Whether in the locker room, the community, or at home, our goal should not be to simply behave in a specific way. It should instead be to instill the correct values in our hearts, so that our actions will flow out unimpeded, confirming what we truly believe.
By deciding to live our lives based on solid values and unwavering truth, we can leave a legacy for the young men and boys who want nothing more than to follow in our footsteps.
My grandfather was born in 1920. His grandfather was born in 1860, at the beginning of the Civil War, into an America where slavery had yet to be abolished. And so, as I have sometimes thought about it, I dodged slavery by just five generations.