July 15 2015 by Roman Gabriel III

    Chris Draft played linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 years with the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and two years with the Carolina Panthers. Draft was a three-year starter at Stanford University, graduating in 1997 with a degree in economics. In 2002 he received the Ed Block Courage Award, and in 2006 he was voted “Man of the Year” by the Carolina Panthers. In 2011 Chris lost his wife of five years, Keasha, to lung cancer.
     
    In 2006 he established the Chris Draft Family Foundation, which focuses on eight primary initiatives with overarching themes that stress the importance of education, healthy lifestyles, character development, personal responsibility, self-discipline and physical fitness. The Atlanta-based foundation seeks partnerships with local and national community health organizations, school districts and non-profits across the country, striving to empower and uplift communities by educating and equipping families to make healthier choices.
    I caught up with Chris and we talked about his work with NFL Player Engagement, and – through his strong faith in God – taking up the challenge of helping countless cancer survivors and their families.
     
    Q: Chris tell us about NFL Player Engagement and your involvement in helping current players prepare for life after football.
     
    A: The hardest thing our players have against them is that most of them think they’re going to play forever. And thinking that, they don’t consider what they’re going to do next. What player engagement does is communicate to players: you know you’re going to be done at some point, and you know it can happen at any time – regardless of how you’re feeling, how you’re doing or how you’re performing. By preparing yourself mentally, physically and spiritually, you have the best chance to succeed moving forward.

     
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    Chris Draft

    Q: Fans see elite players like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Larry Fitzgerald – star players that play from 8 to 14 years. That is not the norm; most players on the roster are fighting for their jobs every year.
     
    A: It’s a blessing to play that long; I had a chance to play in this league for 13 years. That’s a long time, but when you look at retiring in your early 30s – around 35 – you have your whole life ahead of you. In football terms, that’s an old man, but in real-life that’s a real young.
     
    None of those years were guaranteed. I fought and scratched and pawed. Teams tried to kick me out the door, and some succeeded, and I fought for my job every year. You have to focus on what’s next, but more importantly what you would enjoy doing after football. Hopefully your life isn’t just about football greatness, but about greatness as a man.
     
    Q: As Christians and former professional athletes, you and I know that it is ultimately our relationship with God that keeps us secure and motivated moving forward. How did that fact impact your life?
     
    A: Football is such a tremendous game in terms of getting you in touch with your faith in God and getting to know your faith. You can only do so much preparation and then you must release it to God and let go.
    You can only prepare your body so much, mentally, physically and emotionally. Somebody’s got to take over for me to get up. For me to play that long, it’s a true blessing. You need to help young players understand you can’t play forever.
     
    Q: I heard Tony Dungy say once, “Football is not my life, it’s my vocation.”
     
    A: It’s not your life; it’s a job; it’s absolutely your work. We see that our vocation in our work is an absolute blessing from God. When you accept that, you cannot predict how long you’re going to play, all you can do is put yourself in the best situation. God is the person who takes care of the rest.
     
    Q: You lost your wife, Keasha, in 2011 to lung cancer, and you have committed yourself over the years to her memory, and to many others through the Chris Draft Foundation, and helping survivors and their families dealing with cancer. How is that fight going?
     
    A: We initiated a Super Bowl Challenge for our lung cancer survivors. With most fundraising initiatives you create a team, and the team raises money, and it goes to research. It’s kind of in honor of that person. We wanted [the Chris Draft Foundation] to be a little bit different, because we believe in this cancer fight, it’s not just about research moving forward. It’s also about loving the survivor who’s here right now. So we are fighting for survivors now, and fighting for survivors in the future, and remembering those that have already passed.
     
    Q: Tell us about your current hospital program.
     
    A: We work with all the hospitals and 130 cancer centers nationwide, really trying to find out where they’re lung program is. Then with our Super Bowl Challenge, this year we were able to do more with individual survivors. We have cancer centers raise up their survivors and allow the community to get behind them. Now they’re raising money for that community and local cancer center so they can do more in providing support for survivors in their local communities.
     
    Q: For people who are struggling with lung cancer, or a family member or friend supporting someone, where do they go?
     
    A: They can go to chrisdraftfamilyfoundation.org, and at Twitter @chrisdraft,
    and Facebook at Teamdraft.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. Visit his website:soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: soldoutrg3@gmail.com.)

    7/15/2015 10:37:02 AM by Roman Gabriel III | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Chris Draft, Christian athletes, football




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