Obviously, us fantasy geeks take offense to that at first glance. However, I'd like to let this comment sink in and make us really reflect upon ourselves as human beings.
There is little doubt that this game we play is EXTREMELY addicting and I'll be the first to admit that it takes a lot of will power on my part to re-prioritize my life back in perspective when my addiction starts to become an issue. Having 3 kids under 8 years old and a loving wife who also wants to spend time with me this time of year, really helps me get back on track and remember what's really important.
P.S. The Comments Below Are Religious Based, but You'll Still Want to Read to Find Out Who My New Sleeper LB is For IDP. And, For Me, I Have Faith in Him Because of His New Found Faith
But above all things, what really keeps "my eyes on the prize" is my faith in God. My definition of "eyes on the prize" is the final command of Jesus "to love one another." And this is where Arian Foster's comment comes into play. No matter what you think of him as a person, player, teammate, etc., he is to be loved according to our father in Heaven. And I understand that some who are reading this may not believe in God, but even if you take the "humanistic" approach to life, a 'good' person's first reaction should be about a fellow human being's health over the immediate reaction to analyze how this affects our fantasy team. (don't get me wrong, my 'natural reaction' every time is to think of the impact on my team, but I try hard to remember to pray for that player as a human being first and then analyze the outcome second)
I'm reminded of Luke 9:25 "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and lose his very self?" As irony would have it, just this minute my wife called me to come up stairs and see "the most precious thing" (her words) and as I walked into my sleeping 2 year old's room just now, she was sleeping so sweetly with her open book of "little prayers" still in her little hands and resting on her chest. And by the way her little bears were lined up next to her, it looks like she fell asleep reading them a bedtime story.
A little further down in this editorial, I'm going to post Christian witness stories by some of our favorite IDP guys and the sleeper LB that inspired this story. He's a new Christian who gives full credit to God for learning how to deal with the up and down roller-coaster ride he's had since being drafted in 2009.
But first, I think it only fair that I give a summary of how I went from being a partying college football player, crazy semi-pro rugby player, absentee husband/father throughout the first years of my marriage and how God showed His love and just sovereignty throughout. As I say, just a summary because a detailed recollection would go on for pages and pages.
My Christian Testimony (summarized)
My first confession needs to start with: "I still love the idea of partying." The keywords there are "the idea" because the actual act is so much uglier than the idea of it looking back now. But, at the time, surrounding myself with fellow "animals" who thought waking up with zero recollection of what happened the night before was hilarious and no matter how sick or out of hand the things you did where, they just laughed and began talking about when we can do it again. During one stretch of time as an undergrad in college, I racked up 2 "disturbing the peace", 3 "drunk in publics" and "2 public nudity" citations and the group I hung out with glorified those papers higher than any athletic trophy we could have earned. More importantly, during that stretch, I racked up approximately 4 missed family birthdays, 2 forgotten Mother's Days and 1 skipped Christmas to party with friends somewhere else instead of being with family. The word "lost" could not fit me any better. Considering I was a kid who used to draw every single Mother's Day card all way up to senior year of high school. And I took an almost giddy pride in finding the perfect Christmas gifts for family members growing up. (I can say with complete honesty that I enjoyed giving gifts more than receiving them.) So comparing the person I started out to be with the person I had become was an "open & shut case" for proving how far off the path I had wandered.
After undergrad, I got an internship that summer in Public Relations with the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. I was not religious and that internship did not make me religious, but it did give me a summer away from my college roommates, working 8 hours a day in a "shirt & tie" job and a sense for responsibility. Shortly after, during my first couple weeks of grad school, I met my future wife. I had my relapses of immaturity that nearly cost us our relationship, but eventually wised up and asked her to marry me. My demons hid for a little bit, but my addiction to partying flared back up enough to get me a DUI and nearly cost us our marriage. During that stretch we had a couple miscarriages, a death on her side of the family and our relationship was really being tested. I was studying anatomy books and looking for answers of how the human body has miscarriages and taking the whole scientific approach. My wife didn't want to hear any of it. We were both at our breaking point then one night in a fairly drunken state of mind, I decided to pray. The next morning I woke up babbling, and at this point in our relationship, my wife and I were barely on speaking terms. But that morning she shook me asking what I just said. I was hungover and really didn't know, but I could tell that this was very important to her so I really focused and thought back. I told her that I had a dream about a little girl with brown ponytails bouncing on a man's knee that looked like her Pap, who just passed recently. And he was singing a country song to the girl about everything's OK, they're just waiting for a healthy body for you.
I'll never forget my wife's reaction and her tears as she threw herself at me hugging me and kissing my cheeks. She said that she had the same dream and she jumped out of bed happier than I'd seen her in nearly a year. What I didn't know is that she had taken up prayer as well and had been doing it for a month. That day and that dream was the turning point of our life together. The next day, I went in and found out my "man" count was low and that I needed to give up alcohol and start exercising and doing different vitamins. It wasn't immediate, but after about 7 months of trying, we got pregnant again and ended up having that brown haired baby girl that I dreamed about. We didn't need to be hit over the head twice to know this was of God and we found a good church and got our little girl baptized and the rest is history. (kinda)
The real miracle, when my faith took the next step, came when my Dad was in a comma and it was 100% prayer that saved him beyond the doctors and nurses understanding. And about a 1000 other little things God has done between then and now, but those are stories for another day. All I know is the facts. When I look at my movie collection, I see I'm a changed man with over 50% of it being Christian based (still can't give up my Will Farrell movies or some others), when I look at the books on my shelf (90%), when I look at my checkbook, when I see I'm Vice Chair of my church council and head of our Caring For Neighbors committee and especially when I look at my wonderful kids singing in church, doing plays and growing up so happy and thankful in the loving light of God... I just know and can't believe a horrible ass like me could ever be blessed with such amazing gifts to raise and love.
Favorite NFL IDP Christians
Let's take a look at some of our favorite IDPs and their testimonies:
People often ask Willis how he managed to overcome all the challenges (abusive father, loss of his brother) in his life.
"By the grace of God," he says. "No matter what your circumstance in life, whether it's a bad upbringing or a loss of a sibling or loss of family member, keep your head up and stay strong. Believe in God and he'll take care of you."
—Patrick Willis on his Christian faith from USA Today.
"To get to God, you gotta go through things. Don't look at my yesterday, look at my tomorrow.
I've said it before, God never changes. The relationship was there all along."
—Ray Lewis on his Christian faith.
Brian Dawkins testimony >
Troy Polamalu testimony >
Newest Favorite IDP Sleeper and, more importantly, Newest Christian Aaron Curry (OLB, Sea)
If Nothing Else, Let's Keep Him in Our Prayers All Season as a Person (not just someone who can benefit our fantasy football team)
Credit for this Article goes to Jerry Brewer Seattle Times
Aaron Curry has been called many things, most of them unflattering, during his lackluster first two NFL seasons. Now, he is adding his own label to the list.
"I'm a Jesus freak," Curry declares proudly.
His critics' heads are probably doing 360s right now.
Curry doesn't care. He's at peace, finally. His early pro career has been a whir of underachieving and overanalyzing, of the philosophies of two different head coaches and of mass confusion over how he best fits into a defense. He and the Seahawks have restructured his massive rookie contract, trimming it from six to four years, eliminating a guaranteed $5 million salary for next season and putting his status after the 2011 season in limbo.
You'd expect Curry to be on edge as he approaches a make-or-break year with the Seahawks. But he's not. For a player who often wears his emotions on his shoulder pads, Curry is practically serene right now.
It's the religion. It would be irresponsible to write about Curry and ignore it, even if the topic might be polarizing. He was baptized in March, after attending a pro athletes' Christian retreat with his wife, Jamila. His Twitter feed is a constant stream of Bible scripture and praise. He is like a 6-foot-2, 255-pound evangelist, talking with the passion of a man who has discovered a universal elixir.
And what does this have to do with football? Well, Curry is showing signs of improvement in three key areas — patience, playbook comprehension and discipline — and he credits his faith for that. Curry has struggled with the Seahawks not because he's lazy or content after signing a huge contract. To the contrary, he wants it too much at times. He overruns plays, or becomes robotic when he doesn't understand the nuances of playing the position, or fails to grasp the big picture of what the Seahawks are trying to do in their defensive scheme.
Because Curry's problems aren't physical, he still has a chance to be a rare, late-blooming linebacker if he can relax, study harder and develop a better feel for the game. Many don't see it and breathlessly declare him a bust. But Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft, is only 25. There's still time. There's little question about his athletic ability. And there's no doubt his newfound faith is changing his mental approach.
"I never approached the game and said, 'OK, I'm the fourth pick, and I've got to show why I'm the fourth pick,' " Curry said. "I've learned a lot, through my mistakes and through some successes. I'm going to continue to grow, but definitely, being a Christian, I've learned that, no matter how hard you try, you can't please everybody — and that includes myself.
"I'm not fighting myself now. Even though I was blessed, I used to be unhappy, and I was constantly trying to figure out why I was unhappy. Now, I can't find any unhappy days. My faith in Christ is settling me down. It's giving me peace."
It's giving him a desire to sit and read and explore the complexity of what he's reading. It starts with the Bible, but it carries over to the playbook.
"With the Bible, you have to read it, understand it, apply it and deliver it," Curry said. "That's how you understand it. And that's what I need to do to understand the playbook — read it, understand it, apply it and deliver it. My faith and obedience is definitely helping to elevate my game on the field."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who isn't exactly Bill Parcells when it comes to criticizing players publicly, always says positive things when asked about Curry. But perhaps it's telling that Carroll is praising Curry for his mentality and focus during this camp, saying that Curry has "been at the top of his game in terms of preparation."
Lost cause? Maybe not.
Curry may never justify being the No. 4 pick two years ago. Hyperbole suggested he was the best linebacker prospect of the past decade. He's not that, but he's a legitimate NFL starter. After experimenting with Curry, the Seahawks will keep him strictly as a strongside linebacker this season. It's not a glamour position in this defense, but Curry is willing to accept this role.
"I'm not going to pick and choose when I go hard," Curry said. "The role, whatever. The position, whatever. I can't control that. I can only control my effort and whether I can impact the play or not. I'll leave it up to the coaches to put me in the right position, and I'll go full speed."
The self-proclaimed Jesus freak has found his purpose. Next discovery: his game?