Tim Brown was ready to retire from the NFL at the age of 30.
He had abandoned his Christian upbringing to the point that he literally couldn’t look himself in the mirror any longer, causing him to brush his teeth in the dark.
According to the Times Leader, one night in prayer, he heard God tell him, “Now it’s time for you to serve,” but he didn’t fully understand who God was calling him to serve.
Brown recounted his story in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., Wednesday night. He was the featured speaker for the eighth annual Celebrity Dinner, hosted by the Volunteers of America.
Brown seemed to have it all early in his NFL career. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1987 while playing for Notre Dame. He was drafted in the first round in 1988 by the Los Angeles Raiders. And his faith was intact. When he came into the NFL, he put a towel over his head in the locker room to block his view of the players who were smoking, drinking and cursing.
Over time though, he told the crowd Wednesday night, he dropped his defenses and allowed himself to be influenced by those around him.
But he couldn’t continue on that path.
He said he eventually figured out God wanted him to serve his teammates. The transition was difficult. He was tested by some of the players at first, but over a two-year period he earned the respect of his teammates. They even began to play Christian rock music in the weight room and toned down their coarse language.
At one point though, shortly before he retired, he was tested again when the team experienced a losing streak. Some of his teammates wanted him to exert his leadership by standing in front of the team to curse them out.
“And you know for that split second that thought runs through your head because you know this is your career,” Brown said on The 700 Club. “I can do that and God will understand. But, I got to thinking this is nothing but the trick of the devil because I think if I would have done that [no matter what I would have said, no matter how great the year would have been], I think guys would always realize that when times get tough, Tim would break just like everybody else is breaking.
“So I just told them no. I mean they were dead serious about me doing it, and I just said that’s not something I’m gonna do.”
Brown retired after the 2004 season. During his 17-year NFL career, the standout wide receiver went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, making the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. Some believe he’ll end up in the NFL Hall of Fame someday.
Currently, Brown works as a college football analyst for ESPN.