I set 90 NCAA Division 1-AA records at Portland State University, and was an All-Pro with the NFL Cardinals in 1984 and 1987, but the transition of my life happened when I was a sophomore in high school. Read the rest of my story at The Goal.
My success as a quarterback in the NFL and at Portland State University couldn’t have been predicted by my high school career. I was a pretty good athlete in all sports, although I thought I was better at baseball. I took a scholarship offer from Portland State because there were no other offers – certainly not for baseball, and not for football.
As it turned out, it was a wonderful decision.
Football was fun at Portland State. Mouse Davis, author of the Run and Shoot offense employed by a few NFL teams, was my coach. We threw nearly every down. I wound up setting over 90 NCAA Division I-AA records, and even threw for seven touchdowns in one quarter.
Then the NFL became interested. I was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as the second quarterback selected in 1981. I had a good career with the Cardinals, earning All-Pro honors in 1984 and 1987.
I retired in 1990 because of hip problems and had total hip replacement surgery a year later.
The real turning point in my life came not when I went to Portland State University and set all kinds of records – but two years before, when I was still a Sophomore in high school. My brother, with whom I did not really get along, went to something called “Malibu Club”. He came back changed. He went from being a brat of a brother to someone who was kind and considerate and caring. He had given His life to the Lord.
I was enticed. If something could change my brother it must have been very powerful. My brother and his friends sent me to the Malibu Club, and I had the same experience. I saw what he saw. I felt what he felt. I, too, was touched by God, and came back a Christian.
Coming back to high school after my experience at the Malibu Club was the most difficult time of my life. I had changed, and my friends resented the change. My priorities were different. I wasn’t doing the things I used to do, and my friends no longer accepted me.
I stayed involved in church through college, which allowed me to stay focused on the things that were important. I never got caught up in the college scene. I was able to say no to things that might have been destructive to me as a person and as a football player because of my faith. I stayed grounded even with all the success.
Looking back on my career in the NFL, I am very grateful. I had a good run. When I was forced to retire because of my hip, even though it was painful from a physical standpoint, it was my relationship with God that allowed me to focus on just getting my health back and being able to enjoy my family.
The piece of steel in my hip hasn’t hurt my golf game. Golf is my passion, and while I’m currently playing on the Celebrity Players Tour, I look forward to polishing my game to the point I can join the Senior Tour when I reach that age.
I’ve known success in my life, and have reached a certain level of fame and status. But God loved me just as much when I was a sophomore in high school as when I was an NFL quarterback. God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow, and He loves us the same whether we’ve accomplished something in the eyes of the world or are still struggling.
There’s something all of us can count on, whether we’re a pro or a student or an average person – the love of God.