Football Star Knows His Place on the Field and at Home
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings has been a force to be reckoned with for nine seasons in the NFL. Seven of them he spent with the Green Bay Packers with 2 of the NFL’s best (Rogers, Favre). Throughout his career he’s become a 2-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, but his number one priority has always been to draw men to Christ.
“My purpose is to draw men; to draw men to be a light in a dark place. God can’t use me if I’m not lit. So I have to stay in a place of pursuit of God to understand that I want—I desire to go higher. I desire for God to continue to refine me.”
Together with his wife Nicole, they have experienced just about every high and low in professional football. They say that it’s their faith in the Lord that has helped to keep them stay rooted as a family.
“I cover her, she covers me. Bottom line. ‘Babe, you’re going to have to cover me that –I deal with a lot of principalities at work.’ You hear what I’m saying? ‘Look, Babe, cover me.’ You know, so I know she’s home praying for me. And she’s interceding on my behalf. I’m doing the same for her. So we—look, we’re checking off every—we’re coming against everything; so that this (home) remains peaceful.”
Greg and Nicole have 4 children. With Greg’s busy schedule it can be hard to juggle all 6 of their daily lives. But they say in order for it to work, they have to share the burden.
Nicole explains the system they’ve created in their home. “When he’s at work, he can focus just on that; because I have everything else under control. And that is a job for sure. I think it’s a balance. I think that for me, my biggest thing is just to be there to support him. I don’t want him worrying about me or the kids or the household while he’s at work. I want him to be focused.”
Greg understands his “job” is more than just providing for his family. “I have that 9 to 5, if you will, to where I can provide in a natural sense, food for my family, a home, pay the bills. It’s the same by way of Spirit. I have to be the one that is pressing because it starts with the head. So if God calls me to be the provider in the natural, then I have to be the provider also by way of Spirit.”
Greg didn’t always see things that way. Though he grew up in church, the only time he really depended on God was when he got into trouble. “I would do things and then pray afterwards. You know, just to make sure, ‘okay God, please—if You get me out of this, I won’t ever do this again, Lord. Please don’t let this hurt me or come to harm.’ Then I’d find myself a week or two weeks later, maybe tomorrow doing that very thing that I just asked God, ‘OK, God, if You just get me out of this one, if You just…’ That was the thing, ‘if You just –God, if You just do it this one time,’ and it became this almost this lack of respect for His grace.”
Greg was a standout at Western Michigan University. It was there that he decided he didn’t need his faith at all. He noticed a change in his performance on the field. “I remember we’re at practice and I can’t catch a ball; like literally, I cannot catch. Now I’ve caught everything before. So I’m thinking like, ‘man, what is going on?’ So I start to really like, ‘okay God, let me pull You back off this shelf that I placed You on.’ He began to really like open doors again and I was able to start catching balls.”
Since then, Greg makes sure he and his family keep God in the center of everything. He’s now in his 2nd season with the Vikings working hard to help the team climb from the bottom of the NFC North. When he’s not on the field you’ll probably see him either in TV commercial, guest staring in a TV show, serving his community through the Greg Jennings Foundation. He says, no matter where he is; his purpose remains the same.
“I wanted to look like Christ. I wanted to present myself, literally as a lamp, as a well lit light in a dark place; that when you look at me, you don’t really see Greg. You see God doing a work in Greg. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”