Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rod Woodson: Local kid does good, enters Pro Football Hall of Fame

On August 8th Rod Woodson entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While beginning his speech he quickly issued the following, “But first I want to thank my lord Jesus Christ. He is my savior. He died for my sins and my salvation, and really without him I would not be here.” Woodson continued, “And without his mercy, without his love, and without his compassion for me as a person, as a human being, as one of his children, I wouldn’t be here. So I say thank you Jesus.”

The most poignant moment for me during his speech was when Woodson spoke about race and ethnicity and growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He talked about how people still unfortunately judge you by color over character. Woodson issued the following, “I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, in a biracial relationship. And it taught me a lot. I think it taught me early in life that people will judge you by your skin color. Not the content of your character.” Woodson continued, “Society wants us to choose what side they’re on. You know, we always want to choose, but we don’t have to choose. God made you what you are, remember that.”

As his life-long friend Tracy Foster suggested while introducing Wood the “reluctant hero” used his athletic platform to issue the following message to biracial children of the world. The only time he nearly choked up during his lengthy speech Woodson stated, “You people who have mixed marriages tell your kids they do not have to choose what side they’re on. You know, we always want to choose, but we don’t have to choose. God made you what you are, remember that.”

Hallelujah! Someone who uses his platform for something other than self-promotion is refreshing.

Woodson went on to talk about his family and how instrumental they were in his development as a child. He thanked his former coaches from his PAL up to the pros. He thanked his wife of 17 years for “saying yes” and for giving him five wonderful children.

Woodson went on to mention three men who were very instrumental in shaping his faith. The first was local agent Eugene Parker. Those who know Parker know his faith is very important to him. Woodson thanked him for being a more than his agent. He thanked him for being a mentor and teaching him that word is really bond.

Next it was Rodney Harrison who was the team chaplain with the Baltimore Ravens who helped to lead him down the righteous path to fully embrace the word of God. Then finally it was former NFL player and now Senior Pastor Napoleon Kaufman he thanked for helping him become a man of God out in California.

Woodson briefly talked about his days in Pittsburgh and some advice legendary coach Chuck Knoll uttered. Knoll told Woodson, “You have to get on and do your lifes work.”

It appears that Woodson is doing his lifes work after football. He’s a man of faith who is about faith, family, and helping children. He’s using his celebrity for the betterment of those around him and afar. And the great thing about is he’s not seeking the limelight of the press. He’s now seeking the light of God.

You see, football is what Woodson did, it’s not who he was. His speech clearly defined that.

Speaking of the power of choice Woodson ended his speech with Matthew 22:14. Woodson concluded his speech by saying, “I leave you today with these thoughts. Choose. Choose to love rather than hate. Choose to create rather than to destroy. Choose to persevere rather to quit. Choose to praise rather than gossip. Choose to pray, rather than curse. Choose to live, rather than die. Choose Jesus Christ over the world. God bless you.”

I found it to rather in interesting while covering the Hall of Fame ceremonies that Woodson talked very little about sports. He mostly talked about his faith, his family, friends and those who helped him along the way. He talked about race and ethnicity and the power of choice. It’s rare for a football player entering the Hall of Fame to talk about such things, but I guess that’s Woodson’s choice.

Oh by the way, he was a heck of a football player too.

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