Former NFL player shares his message
Former Indianapolis Colts running back Roosevelt Potts doesn’t have a shortage of exciting stories from his five seasons in the NFL, but during Sunday’s Super Bowl party at Liberty Baptist Church, he spoke about something he felt was more important to the kids of IMPACT, Liberty Baptist’s youth group.
“To me, hell is a lot scarier than worrying about how much fun I had in the NFL,” Potts said. “That’s why I didn’t want to talk to the kids about that.”
The former running back, who entered the league in 1993 with the Indianapolis Colts, chronicled his turbulent journey from the NFL to his current position as assistant football coach at Taylor University in front of a room filled with youth.Potts, who also made short stints with the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, told his story about how he turned away from his faith after the death of his mother and how his then 5-year-old son was instrumental in getting him back to Christianity in 2004.
Battling through $560,000 of debt and a love for all the material things that life in the pros brought, the Louisiana native quit his job and gave God 15 days to do something drastic in his life.
That drastic event happened when he said God drove him to a neighborhood church to preach a sermon to the people despite not knowing anything about the Bible or Christianity. The preacher of the church willingly allowed Potts to do so after having a similar feeling the night before.
Sounding confident as he spoke, Potts admitted he isn’t quick to tell the story.
“I really haven’t shared that story with a lot of people,” Potts said. “I only share it for people that ask me to come and share.”
Potts added that he has delivered similar talks on five other occasions.
In a day and age where professional athletes are placed on pedestals and treated as role models, Potts said athletes shouldn’t be expected to be perfect.
“I think the world has the wrong definition of a role model,” Potts said. “Being a role model is no different than saying, ‘I’m a Christian.’ Even as a Christian, you’re still going to screw up. It’s just that the media makes it a big deal when they (athletes) screw up, and they are no different than us.”
Potts said professional football players can be suitable role models.
“I feel like football players are great role models because in order to play this game you have to have some kind of get-up-and-go. This game here is the one that’s making me survive right now because times are hard.”
After Potts stepped back from the microphone, the group flipped on the game, chowed on all the classic football foods and swarmed around Potts for autographs.
Liberty Baptist Church senior high youth leader Mike Jones arranged Potts’ talk.
“We’re always excited to hear, especially from someone like Coach Potts, about someone who seemingly has everything a person could want, but yet, was still obviously missing something in his life,” Jones said.
Jones added that the message coming from a pro athlete like Potts is a little more effective among youth.
“They do put (athletes) on a pedestal and see them as elevated, but then they understand that they have the same problems as you and I have,” Jones said.
Eastbrook freshman Zach Wallace said his favorite part of Potts’ story was when he went to drive to a liquor store to buy alcohol with the money he should have put in the offering plate and his car wouldn’t start. When his wife tried minutes later, it started up with no trouble.
Wallace also said he thought Potts’ experiences made his message more effective.
“He’s been there and done everything,” Wallace said. “He knows how it feels.”
Potts finished his pro career with 1,475 rushing yards and 863 receiving yards. He said he could become involved with the NFL again by starting with an internship, but doesn’t feel ready yet.