Challenge SPORT

Alexander the great

An ex-sporting legend talks about faith, football, and the only way to live.

Shaun Alexander plays
Number 37 Shaun Alexander during the match between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks in January 2008. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 35-14. (Photo: Jay Drowns/Getty)

Former American football running back Shaun Alexander was already a football superstar in college, with a police escort making sure he survived a walk across campus.

At 18 he was given the nickname "Alexander the Great". By the time he left the Alabama Crimson Tide football team he held 15 records.

The records continued to break after he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. For that team, he scored five touchdowns in one half.

Shaun rode a wave of success until he was 30, in 2007, when a series of injuries to his left wrist, knees, and ankles affected his game to the point of his being cut from the Seahawks team in 2008.

To many players, such a turn in their career would be cause for immense frustration and disappointment, a loss of purpose and motivation.

Not so to Shaun. Shaun had his wife Valerie and two children to care for.

And he had God.

While still at the peak of his career, Shaun told CBN: "I am a Christian who loves the Lord and just happens to play football, happens to be on cool TV shows, and happens to get to be on commercials.

“I don’t
know much
but I know
how to be
obedient”
"I'm a Godly man first. I chase after God. I play football for the sole reason of giving God glory."

Shaun recalls his relationship with God starting with his first prayer.

"I was like, 'God, I don't know much but I do know how to be obedient'. That was my first prayer at 10 years old.

Shaun Alexander
Shaun Alexander during an interview at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2015 in Arizona. (Photo Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

"That's just how I live my life – chasing after Christ, finding new ways to get closer to Him. I want to do what children of God do, and that means going all out for Christ."

Shaun does know how to be obedient and he kept that promise even through the hotel and party scene he was confronted with as a player.

"When you start breaking down things in the Bible and you're chasing after the Bible, you're saying, 'Hey, I'm going to be obedient no matter what I feel like I want to do.' That's picking up your cross daily.

"I crack jokes with people when they say it's hard being a Christian. To me it is not hard. The hardest thing is choosing whether you're going to go all out or not."

Once he decided to go all out, Shaun says some aspects of his life, particularly to do with his game, were easier. A lot of the pressure was taken off and he knew as long as he did his best, God would do the rest.

"I honestly believe that I'm supposed to do everything that I can do to the best of my ability, and God takes care of the rest," he says.

"How can you worry if your Father is taking care of everything? The God who created the world says, 'I got you; just give me the best you've got'.

Val and Shaun Alexander
DALLAS, TEXAS - Val and Shaun Alexander attend a charity benefit at The Ritz-Carlton, on November 12, 2016. (Photo: Peter Larsen/Getty)

"You're never going to be perfect," says Shaun. "But you're always gunning for it. You're usually tired of going through this battle, and that's when you've got to go back and depend on God. You'll have a bad play, and then the next thing you know you make the greatest play that anyone's ever seen.

"You're always in that fatigue where you're crying out for a little bit more. 'God, give me a little bit more strength.' That's kind of how it is in football and in Christ."

Shaun says his life scripture is Psalms 37 verse 4, which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart".

Shaun says he sees this as a reminder to take joy in what God is doing in his life, take joy in learning about him, and take joy in growing as a person every day.

To Shaun, there is only one true way to live, and once you decide to do it, it is not as difficult as you would think.

"I believe it's my job to give you truth and be a light. If you ask me, I'm going to tell you the truth about Jesus Christ walking on Earth and saving souls and dying on a cross."

"[There] is only one way to do it, and that's the way the Bible says it," Shaun says. "That's the way Jesus Christ showed it and lived it, and that's it."?

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