I’m grateful for the life experiences I’ve had—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs. As I’ve done things a little bit dif- ferently, the world has tried to force me onto a roller coaster of identities, defining me by my circumstances and not who I really am.
Was my identity found in the highs when I won the Heisman and later when the Denver Broncos were making a play-off run? No. Was my identity found when, a year later, I was cut? No.
One day, according to the world, I’m on top of my game, adored, praised, and respected. And the next, I’m at the bottom of the heap, cut, criticized, and torn down. You know what I’ve learned in the process? How important it is not to allow either the highs or the lows in life to determine who you are.
It’s tempting to define ourselves or to measure our worth by the external—by how much money we have, by how we look, by the applause of others. The list is long. Think about this. Who are you when everything is going great—when the money is in the bank, when your home life is peaceful, when your future seems certain? And who are you when your world is shaken—when your bank account is overdrawn, when your relationship is on the fritz, when you haven’t a clue what tomorrow holds? Sometimes it takes a challenging time to really find out.
While many know about my career highs, few know the details about the lows. Like having to learn that God’s plans are better and bigger than mine, feeling torn about the future, and working through my dreams being shattered after getting cut from three NFL teams. I admit, writing this book hasn’t been easy. It was tough to relive some painful moments. But I’ll say that in those places of doubt and even of darkness, I’ve realized that who I am has nothing to do with wins or losses, applause, or negative criticism. It has to do with whose I am. Knowing this, I can live out what the king of ancient Israel wrote in Psalm 16:8:
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
While in this book I share parts of my personal life and football journey in the NFL, this is not a memoir. It’s about the truth I’ve discovered along the way. And, it’s also about some amazing people I’ve been inspired by in life as well as through our foundation’s W15H (pronounced “wish”) outreach pro- gram. Though our mission is to bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need, they have, without fail, given those very things to me. While I wish I could tell you about every single child and family I’ve met who has inspired me, I’m excited to be able to share a few stories with you.
Here’s what you can expect to find in this book. The first seven chapters will reveal some of the lows I’ve experienced, glimpses into my life and parts of myself that I’ve never shared publicly. They’ll also uncover the lessons I’ve learned through that time, like what it means to stay grounded in the face of doubt, fear, and criticism; why others matter; and how our objective in life is not to be like everyone else.
The final three chapters move in an outward trajectory, focusing on how we can impact others in our journey of faith and purpose. When we are grounded in whose we are, not only can we handle the storms that come, but we can also begin to move forward in a more purposeful direction. We can begin to live in a new way. We can impact others even when our circum- stances look bleak. We can use our stories to help others in their own.
Look, I’m not perfect. I’m on a faith journey just like you are. I have good days. I have bad days. Sometimes I get it right. Other days I struggle. I know that when I’m settled in my identity, I live at my best.
While this book doesn’t offer cookie-cutter answers or a concrete plan about what to do when you stand on shaky ground, my prayer is that it strengthens your faith, gives you hope, and shines light on your dark places. My prayer is that after reading this book, you can walk away inspired, armed with courage, ready to tackle life, and make a difference.