|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
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Playing for More
My dad's father left his family when my dad was a kid. As a result, my dad didn't have a positive male role model in his life when he was growing up. By God's grace, he got invited to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle meeting by a coach at his high school. And at that meeting, he accepted Christ as his Savior. This led him to live a very different life than that of his own father.
The choice to follow the Lord changed his life and the entire trajectory of our family for generations to come. I'm sure as a seventeen-year-old kid, he wasn't thinking about the impact this decision would have on his future family, but without his faithfulness as a father, I would not have grown up into the man I am today. My opportunities to grow into a professional athlete, marry an amazing woman, and eventually raise godly children are in large part possible because my dad modeled what it looks like to be a man of God.
As I've grown up, I realize more and more how blessed my sisters and I are. After leaving home and living around the country, I draw back on countless lessons that my parents taught me. I can't imagine going through life without the foundation that I have. My dad's words "Do the right thing, son" ring in my head still today when considering situations. Did I always listen to them? No. But as time has gone on, I have learned that even if it's hard to admit, my parents were right about most things.
My grandfather started coming around again when my sisters and I started getting older and participating in organized sports. My dad had reached out and wanted to give his father the opportunity to be in his grandkids' lives. I have some good memories spending time with my grandfather during the holidays and at games, and I really appreciated him coming. As every kid does when he gets older and starts to learn more of the truth about the world, I slowly came to realize that it wasn't all rainbows and roses. My grandfather wasn't very good with money and he got involved with the wrong people time and time again. To this day, I still get phone calls from debt collectors looking for my grandfather.
I may not have had the best example of manhood from my grandfather. But my dad ... he is a stud. It seems like every day I learn something new about Dad and come to admire him in an even deeper way. I'm sorry-not-sorry about being boastful here, but I have to brag a little about my dad because I think he is the best example in my life here on Earth of what our heavenly Father is like.
I realize that this topic is painful for many whose fathers were not around, who feel rejected or unworthy. I know there are many young men who have longed for the love, approval, and pride of their earthly father. While my dad was in the stadium for every athletic event, I know there are kids who are competing and looking up to the stands to find someone to cheer for them. The gift I have in my dad isn't lost on me, but even in his great love for me, he falls short every time compared to the love of my heavenly Father. That's the power, the secret I want to share with you.
If you remember one thing from this book, make it this: we all have the same heavenly Father who is full of perfect unconditional love that no human could ever give. He is waiting with open arms asking to be in a relationship with each and every one of us. That love, along with unbelievable peace and joy, awaits you. You don't have to earn it! He gives it freely. When you have this relationship like I have, you are eternally welcomed into a family that is far better than anything this world offers. When my father accepted Christ, everything changed. By the grace of God, my father's life was transformed and his heart was filled with love where anger had once been. In an incredible act of this grace, my dad took my grandfather back into our life and even took care of him in his final years when he came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. What a story of redemption and victory. Pretty awesome. That's my dad. He restored integrity to the Keenum name.
He's a real man. He's a kingdom man. He's my dad. Growing up, I didn't really think about how much money we had as a family. My dad was a coach, and my mom was a teacher. As a hard- working middle-class family, we never spent any money that we didn't have to. My brother-in-law complains about not being able to share a milkshake with my sister Lauren. She drinks the whole thing down the first chance she gets. That's because when I was a kid, if you didn't get your share when it was passed around the first time, it wasn't coming back to you. We went to Taco Bell on Sundays after church. This was a special treat for us. I didn't think about other restaurants I was missing out on. I may not have had everything I wanted, but I had everything I could ever possibly need and more.
The money I've been fortunate enough to make during my career will affect my family's financial situation for years to come. I find that money is very difficult to talk about.
Recently though, I've been convicted more and more that I can step up in this area of our lives. As our financial situation has changed over the years, I think I do a disservice to myself and the kingdom to not make my use of money a high priority in my life. The Bible not only calls me to lead in all areas of our relationship, but the Bible also mentions money more than heaven and hell combined. How we handle our money as believers is obviously important, so I want to make sure I am in line with Scripture every step of the way. I know I wouldn't be in this position without the Lord, and I'm not going to change who I am because of how many zeros are at the end of my account. I will keep doing what I'm doing, giving my firstfruits back to God — using the influence I have to support others who are using their talents to further the kingdom. Isn't all the money God's anyway?
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." — Luke 12:34
I've never seen a U-Haul on the back of a hearse. You can't take it with you. I've definitely regretted some purchases I've made for myself over the years. But I've never regretted parting ways with one dollar that I've given to church or a worthy charity.
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected." — Luke 12:48
I've been blessed. In more ways than one. I want to share that with others. I want to get deeper into the business of making a difference. I have a platform through professional football. I have a unique opportunity to be part of something much bigger than myself. I can't imagine saying no to that. Just like I can't imagine keeping my faith to myself.
There is nothing wrong, in and of itself, with money. But my dad — and my mom — gave me something much more important than any of that. They gave me what I needed. They gave me a foundation of learning about faith that would guide me my entire life. They set me on a path that has sustained me, even when I couldn't see anything good up ahead. They put me in position to meet the One who would change everything about what I do, and who I am.
They gave me a framework to play for something more.CHAPTER 2
Pray Hard, Play Hard
Abilene, Texas, is the place I call home. I was born in the small town of Brownwood, but if you know anything about football coaches, you know that they move a lot. And that's what my dad, Steve Keenum, did. In the midst of all that moving, if there was one constant in my life, it was football.
The sport is in my blood, always has been. Ever since I can remember, I've wanted a ball in my hands. Dad was at Ballinger, Brownwood, and Cooper high schools; and then Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Sul Ross State in Alpine, and Hardin-Simmons and McMurry Universities in Abilene. Growing up, I would find any excuse I could to hang around his teams, and a big chunk of my childhood was spent at the field house. Being a coach's kid was the best thing in the world.
I had unlimited access to the locker room, weight room, and practice field. The football facilities were my playground. From the very beginning of my life, I began working hard to be a part of the team. In those early years, I was working to be a part of whatever team my dad was coaching.
For example, when I got a little older, I asked my dad if I could be his ball boy — the little kid on the sideline helping refs during games. His answer? Not until I could throw a college ball from the sideline to the hash where the ref usually stood.
If you've never held a college-sized football, you need to understand something. Most kids my age were throwing a Nerf Vortex football that fit well in an eight-year-old's hands. But I practiced chucking a real ball — a ball that was bigger than my head, mind you — in the backyard every day. I kept working and working ... and eventually it paid off. And once I earned that ball boy job, I didn't let go.
Saturday was the highlight of my week. Being on the sideline, catching extra points and field goals, being a part of big wins and heartbreaking losses — these are memories I'll never forget. Sometimes, when I'm back home, I'll see old highlights of those games, and there I am, running around the sidelines against teams like Howard Payne, East Texas Baptist, and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
I wanted to be around players any chance I got. One of my earliest memories is of my dad bringing me in front of his team at Sul Ross after practice and announcing, "If you can run a route and catch a pass, I won't make our players do harness pulls." Remember, we're in West Texas, and this was a typical scorching-hot summer day. Harness pulls were the last thing anyone wanted to do.
My dad threw the ball and ... I dropped it.
I felt awful. But the guys on the team stepped up; they asked Dad to raise the stakes, double or nothing. If I didn't catch this one, they'd do two sets of harness pulls.
This time I really concentrated. I ran my route and ... I caught the ball over my shoulder. I turned around and the entire team was chasing me! I guess I hadn't registered how happy they would be. I was terrified of these huge men running after me, and I took off in the other direction running for my life. When they finally caught up to me, they put me on their shoulders to celebrate. After I realized they weren't going to trample me, I felt like the coolest kid in town. My dad had the best job, and I was the luckiest kid in the world.
Being around my dad's teams, that's when faith and football really began to come together in my life. See, my dad didn't just recruit guys based on talent. He recruited men of character. Men who did the right thing. He expected his players to handle themselves a certain way. If you were on my dad's team, you didn't curse on the bus — especially when his son was tagging along for the ride. (I've been on a lot of team buses since then and, trust me, it's not easy to keep a bunch of college kids from cursing.)
I could tell, even at that early age, that certain players carried themselves differently than most. They talked differently, walked differently, on and off the field. I would come to find out that they were Christians. I still remember some of their names: Rory Peacock, Jon Rhiddlehoover, Wes Tidwell, Keidric Dixon, Johnny Golden, David Harmon, Brian Valenzuela ... But McMurry quarterback Braxton Shaver was my guy. He was a great player and a man of faith. These men had accepted Christ into their lives, and they were living that out on and off the field. I wanted to be just like them.
Sure, we're talking about guys at a Division-III school in West Texas; they may not have been nationally known, but they were stars in my eyes. They were a great reminder to me that the way you behave as a player influences other people. What you say, what you do, even what you don't do — it all matters. I don't agree with Charles Barkley's famous line, that athletes aren't supposed to be role models. In fact, athletes were some of the first men I looked up to, and they had a huge impact on me. As people, the way we act matters. That's just as true for non-athletes as it is for athletes. You never know who's watching — a little brother or sister, a friend, a neighbor. We often underestimate our ability to affect others. You never know what kind of effect you can have by making a positive impact on others. You can actually affect generations of people.
The apostle Paul understood this. He wrote in a letter to a group of Christians, "Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). No matter where we are or what we're doing, no matter whether we're on the field or off, we should always live worthy of our calling. You never know who might be watching.
I've been fortunate to have a lot of great influences throughout my career, but my dad set the standard. He taught me what it means to be a real man of God.
Before every game, he texts me four things: Pray hard. Play hard. Take care of the ball. Have Fun. This is what I think Dad means:
1. Pray Hard. Faith is the foundation for everything. I play for an audience of One. Before every game, I pray: "No matter what happens, let my light shine for You, God." I don't just play for the name on the front or the back of my jersey. I play to glorify God. Life is too hard to go about it alone. Playing QB is too hard without help. Prayer is our direct line to the Creator. Spending time in prayer is important not just before big games or big moments of our lives ... an active prayer life means staying connected daily to the One who will always have your back. He's always there to listen. Take a moment to try it out.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in everything; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
2. Play hard. My pops is talking about mental toughness. Don't get down on yourself if you throw an interception or make a mistake. Give it your all on the next play. Nothing that happens on the field is ever as good or as bad as it seems. As Christians, we're called upon to maximize the talents that God gave us. We can't let the enemy distract us with negative thinking.
Don't you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. — 1 Corinthians 9:24
I learned a big lesson about playing hard at an early age from my dad. I was ten, and I was in my first year of playing Little League baseball. Tryouts were on a Saturday, and I was really excited. The tryout consisted of taking five swings at the plate, and then running to first base after the fifth one, whether or not you hit the ball. I proceeded to rip five base hits and, feeling pretty good about myself, I trotted to first base. Afterward, I went up to Dad expecting him to be proud. Instead, the first thing he said was: "Son, I don't care if you strike out, hit the fence, or get hit by a pitch — you run as hard as you can to first base." I remember those words like he said them yesterday. I don't run to first base anymore, but I still strive to play as hard as I can when I take the field, no matter the situation.
3. Take care of the ball. The football is the most important part of the game. And as a quarterback you have the ball in your hands every play. You have the most responsibility on the field. Accept that responsibility. Don't shy away from the fact that people are counting on you. If something goes wrong, don't make excuses. Do whatever you can to do better the next time.
I like to think I was a pretty good kid. But like most teenagers, I found trouble once in a while. Nothing major. There was the time my friend bet me I couldn't throw an ice cube from the stands at a football game into a tuba below where the marching band was waiting to take the field. (I could, and the guy playing tuba wasn't very happy about it.) Sounds funny now, but trust me: I paid for it later on.
In Dad's house, there was no getting out of trouble if you got caught. Which I did. One hot summer day, my friend Zac Taylor and I desperately wanted to go swimming. My family had a membership at the local pool, the Wylie Swim Club, but Zac didn't. So Zac and I told the girl working the front desk that Zac was Steve Keenum. Like that was going to work in Abilene — hah! Of course, the director of the swim club found out. He called my dad, and they came up with a punishment: I had to mow the club's lawn all summer long. As always, my dad was teaching me a lesson. Our actions have meaning and consequences.
4. Have fun. Football can seem like life-or-death. But it's not. Do I love to win? Heck ya. Do I hate losing? Probably more than I love winning. But we're out there playing for a bigger purpose than wins and losses. If you keep that in mind, competing can be an awesome experience.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Playing for More"
Copyright © 2018 Case Keenum.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Playing for More,
Chapter 2 Pray Hard, Play Hard,
Chapter 3 Under the Lights,
Chapter 4 Third Ward Cougars,
Chapter 5 The Show,
Chapter 6 Down but Not Out,
Chapter 7 Kimberly,
Chapter 8 Chasing History,
Chapter 9 Draft Daze,
Chapter 10 Welcome to the NFL,
Chapter 11 Soaring on Eagles' Wings,
Chapter 12 Go Rams,
Chapter 13 Goin' Hollywood,
Chapter 14 Minnesota Nice,
Chapter 15 SKOL,
Chapter 16 Bronco Country,
Chapter 17 Why I Play,
About the Authors,