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 (http://www.brianjordanfoundation.com/), 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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610

©2015  Insightful Player, LLC

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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610

©2015  Insightful Player, LLC

Perry Williams

Former New York Giant Perry Williams 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.

Perry Williams

Giants’ Two Time Super Bowl Champion Perry Williams

Dedicates his life to his faith by empowering youth

When former New York Giants cornerback and two-time Super Bowl winner Perry Williams says that he tries to “be a positive influence, a positive role model, to do the best I can to make a difference,” it’s a bit of an understatement.

Perry has always made a positive difference, whether it was to the offense on the opposing team that he was somehow always able to catch up with, or to the economically disadvantaged children in New Jersey and New York on whom he lavished free stadium tickets when he played there and found out his team wasn’t going to be using all the tickets to which they were entitled.

And today, Perry is making perhaps his greatest difference of all. With his professional football career behind him, Perry is following a personal mission to touch and transform the lives of young people through a multitude of channels, including as a college instructor, a motivational speaker, a camp director, a curriculum designer, and a spokesperson for Beyond the Laces.

Beyond the Laces, as Perry explains, is a collaboration between himself and Bob Salomon, who has written a children’s book and created a movement by that same name. Beyond the Laces is intended to inspire children and families to face life’s challenges and obstacles courageously. It promotes the importance of kindness and the message that persistence and faith can overcome any adversity.

The message of succeeding through persistence and faith is also the story of Perry’s life. He reflects upon his humble upbringing in the sandhills of North Carolina. Despite the absence of a father in the household, Perry believed his life to be a balanced one. “My grandma and my mom instilled in me all the right values: manners, respect, obedience, and all the other qualities that are vital for a young man or young lady when they are growing up. I had a strong foundation of love and compassion.”

Attending their Southern Baptist church was a major factor in Perry’s upbringing. “By the grace of God, I grew up to be a spiritual person. I realized early on nothing was going to be handed to me and I would have to work for what I wanted to achieve.”

Perry set his sights on a professional football career at the age of six – and proved to himself and those around him that even a small child can have the persistence to follow through on a dream. With the help of coaches, mentors, and an attentive uncle along with his mother and grandmother, he worked hard as an athlete and as a student. That commitment and diligence made it possible for him to attend North Carolina State, where his success on the football field resulted in his being drafted by the New York Giants after graduation.

But all the acclaim and attention he was garnering as a football player came at a price, as it so often does. Publicity, Perry now says, is even more of a trap than financial gain. “When enough people start telling you how great you are, you start to believe it,” he says. “That was what happened to me. I got lackadaisical and put my spiritual beliefs aside. I forgot that it was through the grace of my true God that I was there. I stopped going to church; I put aside many of my spiritual practices.”

A rude awakening caused him to change his ways abruptly. During a pre-season game against the Jets in the season following the Giants’ 1987 Super Bowl win, Perry made a tackle, landed on the ground, and found he couldn’t get up. Not only that, he couldn’t move at all. And that was when he heard a booming voice asking him, “Who’s your daddy now? Who’s the big dog now?”

It was the voice of God, Perry believes, putting him in his place. Instantly he regained his sense of humility, acknowledging that his fate was entirely in God’s hands. He recognized at that moment that it was God who had landed him flat on his back unable to move and it would be God who decided what would happen next.

“ I closed my eyes and said ‘God, you’re the boss. If you let me get up, I will change my ways. I will regain my sense of humility and I will never again think I’m bigger than you.’ I lay there praying, asking for forgiveness for my sins. And God decided to spare me.”

Today, Perry works as Director of Outreach for Fairleigh Dickinson University in addition to his role at Beyond the Laces. His university job involves designing curricular units and outreach programs for students of all ages to develop self-esteem and cultivate leadership skills. He has also initiated free summer sports camp programs for young people in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Perry is very excited about his new partnership with Bob Salomon and the Beyond the Laces initiative. Because the movement is based on kindness, he expects it to give many more kids the ability to lead a very fulfilling life and to inspire the same in others.

And again, Perry gives more credit to God than to himself. Four years before meeting Bob and finding out about Beyond the Laces, Perry was at a restaurant in New Jersey. A gentleman approached him and, despite the fact that Perry was surrounded by a group of friends, the man spoke directly to him, saying, “I can see you are a man of God. Don’t be afraid to accept it.”

“Less than a minute later, I excused myself and went outside to follow him,” Perry recalls. ”But when I got outside, there wasn’t a car or a person in sight. I thought at that moment, ‘That was an angel talking.’”

The second visitation happened shortly after Perry had met Bob Salomon and been invited to serve as spokesperson for Beyond the Laces. He was in a store when a stranger said to him, “Are you doing what God told you to do?”

“I looked at him and just kind of backed off,” Perry recalled. “He said to me, ‘I was sent to ask you this question: Are you doing what God told you to do?’ I said, ‘I think so. I’m trying to make a difference in my life.’ He said ‘No, God wants you to work with young people. Things are going to happen, and you won’t believe how big this is going to be.’ And then all this stuff happened with Bob and with Beyond the Laces. And whoever that man was, an angel or whatever, he was right. I can’t believe I have been chosen for such an important role in helping young people to make more of their lives.”

With his lifelong commitment to helping others and staying on the right spiritual path, Perry Williams embodies the spirit, drive, and character of a member of the Insightful Player team.

Instant replay of Perry Williams’ Guiding Principles:

  1. Put your relationship with your God at the center of your life. Never let pride or any other emotion blind you to the importance of God’s grace and God’s will.
  2. Show respect for other people, especially those older than you. Rely on traditional manners in your dealings with people: behave with deference, good manners, and appreciation for them.
  3. Honor your family and other mentors. Look for good guidance, whether it comes from parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, or coaches, and follow the advice of people you respect.
  4. Don’t see money or material acquisition as a worthwhile goal. Once you do, no amount of money will seem like enough, but if you never give it a place of preeminence in your life, you will always maintain the right values.
  5. Reach out and lend a helping hand anywhere and anytime you can.
  6. 6. Make it your mission to encourage everyone around you.
  7. Be a generous, proactive, and caring leader within your community, whether that community is made up of your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, your teammates, or your friends. Show others how to do the right thing by doing the right thing yourself.
  8. Set goals and do not lose sight of those goals. You can achieve whatever you want to achieve, if you keep your goals in sight and follow a clearly established path to attain them.
  9. Lead a purposeful life. Embrace goals that go beyond yourself and contribute to the betterment of others.It is in giving that we experience the most joy and fulfillment.

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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610

©2014  Insightful Player, LLC

Matthew Slater

New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater 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.

Matthew Slater photo

New England Patriots Captain, Matthew Slater

Admired throughout the NFL for his athletic skills, leadership
and his community outreach efforts,
what matters most to him is his relationship with God

The word “humble” comes up a lot when teammates, coaches, or friends talk about Matthew Slater, wide receiver, safety, gunner, and special teams captain for the New England Patriots who has played in three Pro Bowls since first being drafted in 2008. Matthew truly believes he is an agent of God, doing the Lord’s work even as he passes and intercepts on the football field.

Raised by his mother, Annie, and his father, Jackie, who was himself an NFL Hall-of-Famer, Matthew had an intimate view of his future world in the NFL from an early age.

“It was a unique experience to grow up with a dad who was in the Hall of Fame,” Matthew recalled. “I was able to experience a lot of things most youngsters don’t have the opportunity to experience. But most importantly, he shared his faith, which was always what led him. And that was the perspective with which I viewed my world. My faith is the most important thing in my life. Beyond football, beyond family, because I believe I can’t be a good member of my team or of my family without first honoring my faith. “

But after being red-shirted in his freshman year at UCLA and then plagued by a series of injuries in his subsequent college years, Matthew found himself questioning God’s presence. “I was left with a lot of doubt,” he admitted. “Was God really present in my life? Was He really who I had been raised to believe He was? When things didn’t go my way, I became upset and angry.”

But with a combination of faith in God; strong coaching on the field; the mentorship of his parents, his pastor, and other trusted adults; and his own inner strength, both physical and mental, he was able to overcome these obstacles. And nothing could have spoken louder to him about the power of God than what happened in the 2008 draft. “Hearing my name spoken was equivalent to seeing the Red Sea parted and seeing Lazarus rise from the dead. There’s no other explanation for how a player who never started a college game, who literally never had one productive college season, could be drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots. It was certainly a surprise and very humbling, and the biggest sign we’d ever been given of God’s presence.”

And when he infamously caused his team to lose an important game against the Steelers during his first season, he reached back to the spiritual lessons of his college years to get through it. “I took it really hard. It was a big shock to my confidence. I felt like I’d let everyone down: my teammates, the coaches, the fans.”

Instead of doubting his faith as he did when he was younger, he turned immediately to God. “That’s where you have to remind yourself what’s really important beyond the game of football. That’s not to say I don’t value and love the sport and want to work hard at it, but it’s more important to remember that you are grounded first and foremost in Christ.”

Matthew’s natural leadership abilities have arguably done as much as his athletic skills to make him a stand-out among his team members. Not only is he a Patriots captain; he was one of the very few players ever requested by Coach Bill Belichick to accompany the team to away games even when he was on the disabled list.

When not on the field or in training, Matthew enacts his rock-solid Christian values through community service and outreach. He won the Ron Burton Community Service Award in 2013, but he hastens to say that he doesn’t do it for the accolades. Along with considering it a spiritual imperative, he truly enjoys community outreach. He works in youth fitness outreach programs and in encouraging teens and young adults to finish school and stay out of trouble. He is also the team representative for United Way.

At the moment, things couldn’t be going better for Matthew as a player – but that doesn’t stop him from looking ahead to the future. When his football days are over, he dreams of furthering his mission to bring spirituality to others by joining the ministry profession, perhaps as a youth outreach worker. “The message I want most to communicate to everyone I encounter is that I don’t need to be praised or given recognition for football. I humbly accept it, at the end of the day, I recognize that I am a flawed man who has been very blessed. God makes himself available to everyone through a relationship in His son Jesus. He has a unique plan for everyone. It may not be football, but he loves you and has a plan.”
With his profound sense of spirituality, his love of family, his leadership skills, and his eagerness to reach out to the community, Matthew Slater exemplifies the qualities of an Insightful Player® team member.

Instant replay of Matthew Slater’s Guiding Principles:

  1. Respect and attend to your parents, spiritual leaders, coaches, and other adults. Look to them for strength and advice.
  2. Be a source of comfort and nurturing to your family.
  3. Help your community. Use your own strengths to support those who might need more strength of their own.
  4. Refrain from judging others. Acknowledge that each of us has his or her own private struggle.
  5. Don’t blame God or anyone else when things don’t go your way. Instead, focus on what you can improve.
  6. Carry yourself as a role model for teammates and the young people who look up to you.
  7. Maintain a sense of balance and keep sight of your priorities. Remember that sports and other pursuits will never be as important to your life as family or God.
  8. Above all else, look to God as your source of sustenance and guidance.

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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610

©2014  Insightful Player, LLC

Jason Campbell

Quarterback Jason Campbell 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.

Jason Campbell

Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Jason Campbell

a caring leader who grows stronger with every setback because he places his destiny in God’s hands

To see Jason Campbell play football, whether back in his Auburn University days, as a starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, or in his new role with the Cincinnati Bengals, you might imagine that sports was the sole focus of his childhood. But in fact, his parents put just as much emphasis on academics as sports for Jason and his siblings. “My father was a high school coach, but he was also the high school principal, and he made us understand that no matter how good you are in sports, you can’t get to where you want to be without good grades. You have to earn a college degree so that you have something to fall back on.”

As a high school freshman, Jason made the same varsity basketball team for which his father was a coach. One day he heard another parent accuse his father of starting him only because Jason was his own son. “I didn’t tell my dad what I overheard, but I took it to heart and made a promise to myself that my dad wouldn’t have to worry what people thought because I was going to outplay and outwork all the other players and prove my worth to the team. I outscored everyone on the team that year, and I was only a freshman. From that point on, no one accused my dad of favoring me.”

The lesson Jason took from the experience was not only about hard work but also about not taking unkind comments to heart. “People will always find a way to discourage you or try to get under your skin,” he said. “You can’t let it get to you. If anything, you have to use their negativity as a motivation.” This was a message that would come in handy many times throughout his pro career, when Jason came to know how important it was not to take criticism from the media to heart. “If you’re having a bad season and you listen to the outside world, it can really get to your head. You have to ignore all that and stay focused.”

Another principle that has guided Jason for as long as he can remember is his faith. The message he absorbed at a young age is that his destiny is ultimately in God’s hands. “Once I understood that God controls my destiny, that’s all I needed to know,” he said.

Hard as he has worked for everything he has earned, Jason was always motivated more by love and devotion to his family and to God than by the wish for athletic glory or the adulation that comes with it. “Being drafted by the NFL was always my goal, but not because I wanted the fame or money: it was because I wanted to be able to buy my mom and dad a new home,” Jason said. “And that was the first thing I did when I got drafted. That was the best goal I’ve ever achieved in my life: the goal of buying my parents a house.”

The team Jason played for at Auburn University was legendary for its tight fraternal bonds. “Our team chaplain, Chette Williams, liked to have us lock arms before every game,” Jason recalled. “The idea was that we were locking ourselves together as one. Then when we went out on the field, that sentiment stayed with us even after the physical structure was broken. Everything we did on the field, we did together. ”

The same chaplain who created emotional intimacy by having the players lock arms fostered a sense of group protectiveness off the field as well. At regularly held meetings, team members could ask the group for support in dealing with their individual problems. “We were a brotherhood, not just a team,” Jason said. “I found out personal details about the guys: who had lost a family member, who had escaped gang life by getting a college scholarship, who had been beaten up or forced to do very difficult things. Sharing at those meetings made us want to help each other. We went into every game thinking we had to win because we were doing it for each other, and we were undefeated that season of 2004.”

Jason seems to have a knack for seeking out the right role models and taking the best lessons they have to offer. From Auburn University, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins, where he developed a deep admiration for Coach Joe Gibbs. “He used to tell us, ‘Guys, I care about you as men. Football will come and go, but what matters is how you live your life and how you treat others. Use your platform for positivity, not negativity.”

While playing for the Redskins, Jason became involved with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and raised a significant amount of money for that organization while also forging personal connections with some of the young patients who were beneficiaries of that cause. Witnessing their battles with illness and cheering them on transformed Jason’s perspective on his own life as well, as he battled several injuries in the years that followed. When his career took him to Oakland, Jason continued seeking out opportunities for public service.“The community outreach opportunities are the best thing about playing in the pros: golf tournaments, kids’ activities, banquets, speaking engagements,” Jason says.

Another outreach effort that means a lot to Jason is the one-day summer camp program he helps to run back home in Mississippi. “The camp is free. We supply all the resources, the food and drinks, and the coaches and NFL players volunteer their time. The players tell the kids their stories, what they did, how they succeeded. It’s so good for the kids to hear. We give them some form of hope that they will have opportunities that will change their lives.”

These days, Jason is perhaps best known for his resilience in the face of successive injuries, including a dislocated knee and a badly broken collarbone. “Playing the game, there are going to be injuries,” he says philosophically. “You try everything you can to avoid them, but some are unpreventable. Injuries made me stronger and compelled me to get back out there on the field when the time was right. You have to listen to your body and trust your own judgment.”

And ultimately, Jason says, there is a greater lesson to be learned from injuries. “The tough times don’t last, but the tough people do,” he said. “If you have a strong mind and strong will, you’re always going to succeed and come out on top. Life doesn’t always go your way. But you keep going, keep working, and come out even tougher.”

Instant replay of Jason Campbell’s Guiding Principles:

  • Nothing is worth having if you haven’t earned it. Work tirelessly for what you want.
  • Put your faith in God, who controls your destiny and will see to it that you have just what you need.
  • Find excellent role models to learn from and to emulate.
  • Remember that you yourself are a role model to others, and use your influence over them to improve their outlook.
  • Be mindful of your blessings. No matter how tough life gets for you, there are ways in which you are far more blessed than other people.
  • Let setbacks and injuries make you stronger. Use them as a chance to reevaluate and build strength.
  • Listen to your body and respect its knowledge of what it can and cannot do. Speak up if you feel that you are being pushed beyond your limits.
  • Give back to your community. Find ways to reach out to anyone less fortunate than yourself.
  • Be tirelessly supportive of your friends and teammates. Listen when they share their personal experiences, and use the information to better understand them.
  • Form friendships and allegiances with people who show a positive attitude. Do not let negativity from other people pervade your own spirit.

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 http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610

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