“Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Prov. 30:8-9, NASB)
It must be terribly difficult to be rich. I wouldn’t know. And with God’s help, I never will.
I don’t dream of winning the lottery. I don’t buy tickets. I don’t envy those who win. Or who are wildly successful in their endeavors. Including athletes.
Wealth changes people. Often not in a good way.
Sudden wealth is worse. The recipient is clueless on spending.
This came to my conscious mind watching salaries skyrocket in pro sports. This year, contracts for NFL quarterbacks and defensive stars have moved into the stratosphere—often with guaranteed money.
Last spring, Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson agreed to a five year contract extension in the range of $260 million. Lamar is even guaranteed $185 million!
Philadelphia Eagles QB, Jalen Hurts, isn’t hurting either. His 5-year extension is reportedly worth some $255 million—$179 million guaranteed. The Kansas City Chiefs signed Patrick Mahomes to a ten year deal worth reportedly $503 million!
Speaking of quarterbacks, I recently introduced you to a true football family. The Kemps. Jack Kemp and sons Jeff and Jimmy all played at the pro level. Jeff and Jimmy earned nowhere near the big bucks of today. Two of Jack’s grandsons played for Wheaton College, before paying college athletes became a deal.
I asked my friend Jeff Kemp about this money issue. His last year as a starter he was paid ??? Are players today worth all that dough?
“People and TV worship football and pay a lot to do so. That’s why they get paid so much. They earn the league tons of money and carry franchises and incredible pressure and combine talents of exceptional athletic gifts, intellectual rigor, and leadership influence. They become the face of the franchise.”
But wait a minute. What about those who sign a deal and then hold out to renegotiate a better deal? Jeff Kemp honored his contracts. It was an integrity issue. And he says,
“I prefer incentive contracts to cover for players who have far outperformed their early contract assumptions and value.”
Football may be a team sport, but just how important is the quarterback? Jeff opines,
“A QB touches the ball every play, must know every position and study defenses completely, know the coach’s mind and mindset, work with every personality, especially receivers who can be demanding and tempermental and who ‘want the ball every play.’”
He’s not finished.
“QB’s must appreciate, honor, and make the game manageable for linemen. He’s got to be tough, take hits and bounce up without ever getting prepared for it (QBs are never hit in pre-season or practice.). He’s got to study constantly, play loose, run the huddle, loosen up the tense players, fire up the despondent or lackluster dudes, handle the coach’s personality.”
And that’s not all! Quarterbacks stand in the face of a blitz, change a play or routes at the line, know when to scramble, when to throw away the ball, when to risk a tight pass, when to protect the ball, and have the indomitable confidence to bring a team back from three touchdowns even when some guys aren’t sure if they can get it done.
And if the QB fails in the midst of this pressure, boo-birds come calling. QB’s must be resilient and bounce back.
That is why they must be stalwart leaders!
It is also why real personal faith in God is a great core found in many QB’s. As Jeff Kemp says,
“The ups and downs, pressure, and excessive glory/risk of pride must be understood and neutralized. If not, a QB can’t develop, earn trust, lead, and avoid the pitfalls of selfishness, compromise, and arrogance.”
Along with his speaking role, Jeff encourages men in their daily lives through his email messaging. His new book, Receive—The Way of Jesus for Men, released November 1st. You’ll find it on his website.
I began this article by discussing the problem of wealth. You can add success and fame to those life distractions. It’s not just pro athletes who face all three of those challenges.
Many men do. Perhaps you. So I encourage supporting ministries that reach out to inspire successful men. Their influence can be profound.
Meanwhile, after a rough start, the Chicago Bears hope to get back on the success train!