Brian Jordan

Former MLB All-Star, NFL All-Pro, author, and founder of the Brian Jordan Foundation, Brian Jordan is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.

Brian Jordan

Baseball and Football Pro, Brian Jordan

an inspiring author who is dedicated to empowering youth is also the driving force behind a powerful foundation

Love and faith were the guiding forces of Brian Jordan’s childhood as he grew up in Baltimore with his older brother and sister, raised by two loving parents who taught him what it meant to follow the teachings of Christ and to live a life devoted to God.

One of his earliest memories related to sports was when he was six years old and his older brother tried to prevent Brian from following him and his friends around. But when one of the older boys had to leave a football game early, “I went in there and scored a touchdown,” Brian recalls. “After that, they always let me play with them. The lesson I learned that day is that when you get your opportunity, you have to be tough and go out and prove yourself. And if you do, good things come of it.”

Not only was it a portent of the determination that would eventually turn Brian into a two-sport professional athlete, but decades later, it also inspired his first children’s book, called ‘I Told You I Could Play,’” published in 2005.

Another such moment happened when he was nine years old and a pitch hit him hard in the jaw. “It was tough to get back in the batter’s box after that,” Brian says. “My dad finally told me, ‘You’ve got to get out there again. Whatever your fear is, you have to face it.’” Together, father and son practiced until Brian could face an incoming pitch with confidence again. “It was a powerful lesson from my dad in overcoming fear. You’re going to get hit as a baseball player, you’re going to get hit as a football player, but you always have to get back in the game.”

As a small child, Brian admired the young African-American men he saw on the professional baseball diamond or football field. Knowing that Jackie Robinson and other athletes had forged the way for future African-American players was something that kept him going even when circumstances occasionally got ugly. But it was Brian’s parents who always served as his strongest role models. “They taught me to dream big. They taught me that if you want to achieve a dream, you have to stay focused.”

His senior year in high school, Brian was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, but his parents, who had always made it clear to their children that education should be their highest priority, said he had to go to college before he could consider playing in the pros. During his junior year at the University of Richmond, he was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals. At that moment he faced a big decision about whether to give up college football. Instead, he decided to sign with the Cardinals on the condition that he could return to school for one more year to see if he had a shot with the NFL.

What followed was a college football season good enough to earn him a likely spot in the NFL draft. But then he sustained a serious injury during the Senior Bowl. Waking that night in a hospital bed, his leg in a cast, he saw his mother still sitting by his side. She reminded him of a favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Brian held firmly to his sense of faith, disregarding the opinions of doctors who told him his football days were over. Three months later, his leg held together with plates and screws, Brian was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and was ready to be sent to training camp when he found out he was cut from the team. While driving home, he got a call from his agent telling him the Atlanta Falcons wanted to sign him. That was the start of his NFL career.

Over the next few years, Brian played the two sports simultaneously — football for the Falcons and baseball with the Cardinals, then the Braves, and then the Dodgers – and eventually became one of only two athletes ever to be named both an NFL All-Pro and an MLB All-Star. He published a second children’s book, this time about bullying and the difference that one person who steps forward can make in a child’s life. But still, he wanted to do more to give back to the world. That desire led him to found the Brian Jordan Foundation (, committed to creating and supporting programs for children and their families that will directly improve their quality of life by building healthy minds, strong bodies and supporting places to grow.

Recently, an even bigger dream has started coming true for Brian with the establishment of the Kennesaw State Brian Jordan Center for Excellence at LakePoint, a sports development outside Atlanta. Furthering the mission of the Brian Jordan Foundation, the new partnership with Kennesaw State College is geared toward working with underprivileged kids through approaches such as mentoring, tutoring and college scholarships to help them succeed in life.

With his ability to apply lessons learned in sports to becoming a better person and inspiring others to do better as well, Brian Jordan is a valued member of the Insightful Player team.

Instant replay of Brian Jordan’s guiding principles:

  1. When an opportunity to prove your worth arises, grab it and use it to the best of your abilities.
  2. Adversity happens, whether in the form of a disappointing decision or an injury.Learn to meet those challenges by getting back in the game as soon as you can rather than letting them defeat you.
  3. Remain confident in your own abilities. Don’t let other people tell you that you aren’t good enough.
  4. When obstacles arise, stay focused on the goal beyond those obstacles, and insist on pushing your way past them.
  5. When people look down on you – whether because of your age, your race, your status, or any other reason – use their negativity as a motivation to prove them wrong.
  6. Find people who inspire you.
  7. Follow your faith and let it guide you.
  8. Believe in your ability to achieve your dreams.
  9. Make education your highest priority, because it is your surest path to lifetime success.
  10. Understand that disappointments are not God’s way of testing you but rather God’s way of giving you a different opportunity.

The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book,INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit or call 603-897-0610

©2015  Insightful Player, LLC

For a Kid Success Stems From Perseverance But Adult Support is Key Also

Not making a team can be devastating to a kid. I say this because the memory of not making a team is still fresh in my mind – more than forty years after it happened. As a freshman in high school, I tried out for the cheerleading squad. When I didn’t make the cut, I was crushed. At the age of fourteen, I felt like it was the end of the world and my heart was broken.

While it may be a stretch to say that my most profound life lessons have come from cheerleading, it isn’t altogether inaccurate, either. By being a cheerleader – or, more specifically, by first not being a cheerleader – I made fundamental discoveries about perseverance, determination, goal-setting and diligence.

I was very fortunate because I had parents who really supported me. They acknowledged my disappointment and assured me that this experience presented an opportunity for me to build character and learn valuable life lessons. Initially, their perspective didn’t make me feel any better. In the moment,still reeling from the disappointment of not making the cheerleading squad, the idea of building character had no appeal whatsoever, nor did it give me any comfort.

But my parents had planted a seed.To my surprise, the next morning, I woke with a newfound sense of determination. I would embark upon a very focused training program, beginning that very same day as soon as I got home from school. My parents gave me unwavering encouragement and I trained every single day for the next year!

My daily practice routine started out by mustering up a lot of discipline, and I often had to push myself much harder than I wanted to. An entire year of daily practice seemed like an eternity, and I wondered at first if it would even be worth the struggle. However, as each day passed, I became more and more energized by my vision of becoming a cheerleader.I grew to believe I would see it through. My vision was so compelling that I actually looked forward to my daily training.And it paid off. The next year, I was awarded a spot on the cheerleadingsquad.

Today, I still draw on that experience when I run into obstacles. I recall how vision, commitment and determination were the key ingredients in reaching my goal. But I remember another critical factor as well: the contributions of my parents. My mother helped me stick to a training schedule. My father provided encouragement and assurance that I was doing the right thing by putting everything I had into achieving my goal.

Unfortunately, it is all too clear that many children growing up today do not have a family like mine: two present parents to make them feel good about who they are and what they are doing. And that’s why it’s so important for other adults in their lives to step in and take on this role from time to time. Kids have the potential to learn from success and failure alike, but only if someone older and wiser is there to guide them through the disappointment of not getting what they want. When coaches encourage the underdogs or follow up with the kids who don’t quite make the team, it can make all the difference in the world as far as who tries out again – and succeeds – next time around.

Perseverance works – but so does a helping hand. I encourage coaches and all adults who work with children and youth to remember just how important their influence is, and to remember that kids who fail at one attempt are often just a step or two away from success – if someone reaches out to help them get there.

Here are some tips that might help your student athletes and children reach their goals:

1. Have a clear and compelling vision (goal)

Kids often have a vision or goal of something they really want but may dismiss it as unreachable. All our most important goals first show up as illogical and force us to stretch beyond our comfort zone. We need to encourage our kids to trust their vision. Get them to talk about it. Engage with them so they know you care about them

2. Have enormous desire to realize your vision (goal)

We want to help kids develop the wisdom to understand how crucial it is to make their desire to reach their goal much bigger than the obstacles they will face. Empower them by asking questions such as: Why is this important to you? What about this goal interests you? When you reach this goal, how will you feel about yourself? How will this make you grow? Who will you become when you reach this goal? Guide them, encourage them, challenge them, and most of all believe in them more than they believe in themselves.

3. Be committed to your vision (goal)

Help kids set up the will to succeed. Acknowledge their commitment. If they lose steam, hold their vision up to them as a motivator. Encourage, encourage and encourage some more!

4. Call in support

One of the biggest mistakes we make as adults is thinking we can do it all alone. No one can have success alone. It is impossible. Help kids grasp this at a young age. It will have a huge and very positive impact on their entire life. Teach them how to ask for help. Teach them how to enroll others in reaching their goals.

The common thread that runs through the most successful people in humankind is that they all had a fabulous support team.

5. Develop a plan and be open to tweak it if necessary

Teach kids the importance of structure by creating a plan. It is natural for kids (and adults) to resist structure because they fear they will lose freedom. Show them evidence that structure will give them more freedom and will help them soar. The plan will guide them like a road map and make it easier to reach their desired destination.

As Richard Bach said, “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work at it, however.”


Matt Birk

Former player for the Vikings and the Ravens, Super Bowl champion, Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner, and now NFL Director of Football Development, Matt Birk is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.

Matt Birk

NFL Director of Football Development Matt Birk

A caring leader who believes in faith, family, and community service –
and learned many valuable lessons from football

“Football is what I’ve done, but it’s not who I am,” Matt Birk likes to say. “I’m very grateful for all the opportunities football has brought me. But at the end of the day, there are other things that are more important, such as spirituality, family life, friendships, and community service.”

He is profoundly grateful to his loving and devoutly Catholic parents for being such wonderful role models and giving him a rich spiritual foundation. Attending church every Sunday was a cornerstone of family life for Matt and his two brothers. Moreover, both parents set a strong example of the importance of service to the community. “The things they chose to do were never about them; it was always about helping the community,” Matt recalled.

Matt refers to himself as a chubby kid who daydreamed his way through school. He always knew he wanted to be a professional athlete, although he had an innate sense of humility that also made him realize it was a long shot. Being accepted to Harvard was a dream come true. But the boy from Minnesota found the transition to the Ivy League harder than expected. “Going away to college was quite a culture shock for me. I was homesick. I struggled in my classes. It was a tough experience. I was humbled a lot that first year, to the point where I thought I should leave and move back home.” His father set him straight, pointing out what a remarkable opportunity he had to get a fine education while playing football.

Still, Harvard’s influence on him was not always positive. “Until I went away to college, I never had any choice about whether or not I went to church,” he said. Faced with the option of not attending, he found himself slipping away from his faith and the fundamental priorities he had been taught as a child. But marriage brought him back to his Catholic faith. His wife, Adrianna, insisted that the two resume the habit of attending church, and they found their faith deepening as their marriage grew and they became parents to six children.

His last year at Harvard, Matt was drafted by the Vikings – the home team of his childhood. It took two years sitting on the Vikings’ bench before Matt saw any game time, but he had no complaints. “If you go out and play as a young player, you don’t always get a second chance. I was grateful to have the time to develop. I understood the importance of being patient and waiting until I was good enough to start,” he said.

“We are so driven by results. That is the wrong thing to focus on. John Wooden never talked about winning. He talked about execution and working hard in practice. John Wooden’s definition of success is knowing you gave it everything you had in preparation. That’s what my parents had always taught me, in sports and in school; it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, just do your best. There are certainly no guarantees of success in the NFL; all I could do was give it my best. And in the end, that paid off.” He would eventually be named two-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowl selection, and win a Super Bowl with the Ravens.

Eventually, Matt’s NFL career took a turn for the worse with injuries: first a hernia, then major hip surgery. “It was humbling,” he said of that time. “I had surgery after surgery. I wondered if I’d ever play football again. Moreover, my self-worth was tied up in having this big strong body that could do whatever it was called upon to do, and having that assurance taken away was scary. I had to come to grips that I may never play football again. In the end, that was a very good experience. I learned you can’t tie your identity to something that could be taking away from you. It is important to tie it to something that is more eternal.”

Now, he tries to counsel young people not to make the same mistake he did in terms of self-perception. “I tell kids not to have their whole self-worth tied up in their physical performance. I tell them to be well-rounded and find other things besides sports that make them feel good about themselves.

Even after playing both for the Vikings and then the Ravens, Matt calls himself “the most unlikely NFL player ever.” “I love football most because of all the preparation that goes into it year-round, on and off the field. I like the daily grind of it. I guess I always knew deep down that I wasn’t going to succeed in football on talent alone; to be successful, I’d have to be more diligent than anyone else. That was really the key to my success, from high school through college and throughout my 15 year NFL career. I actually enjoyed all that hard work.”

In 2002, Matt’s passion for community outreach and public service culminated in the HIKE  (Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge and Education) Foundation, which he and his wife co-founded to provide educational resources to at-risk children with a passionate goal to help them succeed at school. And his efforts to make the world a better place don’t end there. He is registered to donate brain and spinal tissue for medical research, and has also donated $50,000 to that same cause. In 2011, he received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his excellence on and off the field plus his commitment to community service including improving literacy among at-risk youth.

Matt also co-wrote a book with his close friend Rich Chapman. Titled “All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead to Greatness”, the book shares the personal lessons that Matt has learned through football, his strong family ties, and his Christian faith. The book inspires readers to reach for the best and greatest version of themselves and become part of something greater than themselves.

During the same time frame of writing the book with Rich, Matt lost 75 pounds. He recognized it wasn’t healthy to remain at the same weight as he was as a professional football player.
In 2014, Matt was invited by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell to take on the role NFL Director of Football Development, a job in which he will work with coaches and NFL personnel to develop the game and assist in game day operations. “My job is to develop the people of football including a pipeline, of the next generation to come. It is very fulfilling work.”

After what his parents taught him, he credits the game of football with much of his core value system. “You learn things in all sports, but football is different. For me, my football career was a spiritual journey, one of self-exploration and character development. Football is like life: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you get knocked down. Sometimes you do everything right and you still don’t get the desired outcome. I just want to be able to share those lessons with as many people as I possibly can.”

Instant replay of Matt Birk’s guiding principles:

  1. Foster strong family connections. Learn from those who love you most throughout your life: your parents, your spouse, your children.
  2. Rely on your spirituality to provide a moral compass. Follow the tenets of your faith to stay on the right course.
  3. Work hard in school, and always make academics a top priority.
  4. Learn from adversity. Remember that there’s a reason for everything that happens to you, whether or not that reason is apparent; look for the positive lessons to be learned from the negatives.
  5. Accept that no matter how hard you try, some outcomes will be out of your control.
  6. Look for mentors of your own to guide your decision-making, and serve as a mentor to others.
  7. Be generous with your time, attention and resources.
  8. Remember that your life is about much more than your personal happiness. Your purpose is to contribute to the greater good, not to accrue personal gain.
  9. Reach for your very best and always strive for being the very greatest version of yourself.
  10. Consciously choose to always be yourself. Build a strong foundation so you don’t fall into the trap of letting others define you. This will be a great source of strength for you, especially during tough times.

The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book,INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit or call 603-897-0610

©2015  Insightful Player, LLC

Pro Player Insiders Teams Up With playVs. for the Ultimate Fan Challenge

Taken from Pro Player Insiders

Pro Player Insiders and playVS. are teaming up to offer football fans the opportunity to compete against each other in the Ultimate Football Fan Challenge. While the professional football players are battling it out on the gridiron, their fans will be playing mobile games and trivia challenges in the quest to be the Ultimate Fan. Along with the championship title and the thrill of competition, members of the ultimate fan team will win great prizes like team merchandise, gift cards, Play Stations, Grind Hard Energy Drink, After Glow Headsets, access to VIP events and maybe even interview a player from their favorite team. To compete, football fans need to download the free playVS. iOS app, join the Pro Player Insiders Ultimate Fan Challenge, and play games to compete with their rivals to earn points.Melissa Mahler PlayVS

“Partnering with playVS. is an exciting way to engage with our audience and share our brand with other sports fans,” said Melissa Mahler, Founder and CEO of Pro Player Insiders. “We worked with playVS. to create a host of fun mini-games including Football Rush, Flick Kick, and Pro Player Insiders Trivia.”

While football players battle it out on the gridiron, Pro Player Insiders challenges fans to compete throughout the playoffs to determine the Ultimate Fan.

“The app allows pro football fans to “suit-up” for their teams, play for their team allegiances, challenge their rivals, and boast their victories,” said Josh Weinstein, Co-Founder and CMO of playVS. “Pro Player Insiders’ strong relationships with football fans and players creates the perfect synergy with our platform.” The challenge kicks off December 29th and continues for five weeks. The competition starts with 32 teams and each week only half of the fan teams will continue on to the next round. On Sunday, February 1, one team will be crowned the Ultimate Fans. Pro Player Insiders playVS   Ultimate Football Fan Challenge Schedule Round of 32 teams (Dec 29 – Jan 4): 16 teams eliminated Round of 16 teams (Jan 5 – Jan 11): 8 teams eliminated Round of 8 Teams (Jan 12 – Jan 18): 4 teams eliminated Round of 4 Teams (Jan 19 – Jan 25): 2 teams eliminated Championship Round (Jan 26 – Feb 1): 1 team eliminated   Each week the leading fan teams will have their stats shared on Pro Player Insiders, in social media and in the playVS app. If you’re up to the challenge, get in the game. Download the free playVS. iOS app and let’s see if you are Pro Player Insiders’ Ultimate Fan.

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Former NFL Player Farms for Good – Steve Hartman of CBS News

Taken from CBS Sports

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By: Steve Hartman

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LOUISBURG, N.C. – At one point number 60, Jason Brown, was one of the best centers in the NFL.

At one point he had a five-year, $37 million contract with the St. Louis Rams.

And at one point he decided it was all meaningless – and just walked away from football.

“My agent told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,'” said Brown. “And I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No I’m not. No I’m not.'”

So what could possibly trump the NFL?

You wouldn’t believe.

Jason Brown quit football to be a plain, old farmer — even though he’d never farmed a day a in his life.

Asked how he learned to even know what to do, Brown said:

“Get on the Internet. Watch Youtube videos.”

He learned how to farm from Youtube.

Thanks to Youtube and some good advice from other farmers here in Louisburg, N.C., this week Jason finished harvesting his first, a five-acre plot of sweet potatoes.

“When you see them pop up out of the ground, man, it’s the most beautiful thing you could ever see,” said Brown. He said he has never felt more successful.

“Not in man’s standards,” said Brown. “But in God’s eyes.”

But God cares about the NFL, right? There are people praying to him on the field all the time.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of people praying out there,” said Brown. “But, when I think about a life of greatness, I think about a life of service.”

See, his plan for this farm, which he calls “First Fruits Farm,” is to donate the first fruits of every harvest to food pantries. Today it’s all five acres–100,000 pounds–of sweet potatoes.

“It’s unusual for a grower to grow a crop just to give away,” said Rebecca Page, who organizes food collection for the needy. “And that’s what Jason has done. And he’s planning to do more next year.”

Brown has 1,000 acres here, which could go a long way toward eliminating hunger in this neck of North Carolina.

“Love is the most wonderful currency that you can give anyone,” said Brown.

“Are you sure you played in the NFL?” I asked.


“Because I feel like cuddling you right now.”

“Don’t do that!” he said.

Brown may have left the NFL, but apparently holding is still a penalty.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.