This Monday night when the Denver Broncos take on their rival, the Oakland Raiders, one player’s dream of playing in the NFL will come true. Chris Harris grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from Bixby High School. Chris was an undrafted rookie, looking for that one phone call that would give him the opportunity to play professional football. The Denver Broncos made that call, but it wasn’t until last Sunday that Chris found out he would make the 53 man roster and become a member of the Denver Broncos.
“It is a Great Feeling to be here.”
His dream started at Bixby High School, where he was an All-State defensive back. After graduating, Chris accepted a scholarship to Kansas University where he played 50 games (41 starts) for the Jayhawks. He finished his collegiate career with 290 tackles (197 solo), four sacks (21 yards lost) and three interceptions. When he left Kansas, he ranked third among defensive backs in all-time tackles. He started all 12 games as a senior in 2010, including six at safety, earning KU Defensive Back of the Year honors in addition to being named a team captain. As a junior, he started all 12 games in 2009 and was named a co-recipient of Kansas’ Don Fambrough Award for Unselfishness. He started seven games as a sophomore in 2008, registering 59 tackles (46 solo) and one sack. He started 10 games as a true freshman in 2007 and garnered Big 12 Newcomer of the Year accolades in addition to receiving honorable mention Freshman All-America accolades and was a member of the Orange Bowl Championship Team in 2008. (Stats from Denver Broncos.com)
Chris is a humble young man who gives all the glory to God for this great blessing in his life. I had the privilege to interview him by phone this past Tuesday night, and I wanted to share some of what I learned with you. Chris talked to me after he had concluded a business meeting with the Broncos figuring out his salary, contract and all the stuff that comes with it. He recently bought a car for himself and rented an apartment in Denver. But what I want you to know is that he was very appreciative of me visiting with him about what was really important in his life; his Spiritual Walk with Christ.
His spiritual journey started when he was a child and continues today. Chris was raised in the church, and he gives credit to his family for putting him around the right people and for encouraging him to be active in his church. He was saved at a young age, and his parents always tried to keep him busy in the church. Chris was very active in his youth group, and church was always something he did in life. His parents instilled their faith in him, and later, in college, he grew in his own walk with Christ. Chris gives credit to a couple of teammates, Gary Green and James McClinton, who really helped him get where he is today because they were on a whole new level in their walk with Christ.
He spent two years ministering to the youth with the 9th Street Baptist Church in Lawrence, KS. Many of the youth would come to him for help with their problems in life. He was their role model and he spent time helping them gain their own personal relationship with Christ.Professional sports need great role models. I’m thankful we have a young man who will be starting on special teams who definitely wants to be a just that.
“Being a role model defines our job. We are blessed to be on this plateau and it is a role we have to play.” – Chris Harris
In Chris’ life, Sports and Faith have gone hand in hand. Being in the NFL and being a Christian can be hard for some players, but according to Chris, “You can’t change who you are.” Being in the NFL is not going to change his spiritual outlook on life. Chris told me that you can’t change what you have always done in your life. “Being a Christian is always going to be hard, it’s not easy.” Chris tries to live out his faith on the field. One of his favorite scriptures to apply when he puts on that helmet and walks on the field is Colossians 3:23,24-“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”
Chris goes has hard as he can because everything is in God’s hand. He gives the glory to God because God has gotten him this far in his career. He told me that he isn’t worried too much because he delights in the Lord and if you do that, God will give you the desires of your heart. Having this type of attitude will make Chris a great role model for years to come. Chris spends time in prayers before and after every game, when he wakes up, when he goes to bed, and throughout the day his mind is focused on God.
There are other teammates who also share the same faith that Chris has. Chris mentioned to me that Brian Dawkins, Tim Tebow and a lot of guys in the NFL live their Christianity, both on and off the field. “We all know why we are here and who got us here.” Chris gives all the glory to God for letting him have this chance to play on the NFL. He is now on the big stage like Tebow is, and he wants to let others know about his walk with Christ. A few more of his favorite passages in the Bible that have helped him keep his focus and grow in his walk are Psalm 91 and Philippians 4:13. Take a moment to read Psalm 91 this week and you can see how this passage helps Chris in his daily walk. Read the last few verses of Psalm 91.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
The NFL is all new to Chris right now but after playing the Raiders on Monday night, he will really see how things work. He’s not sure about all the temptations that will be surrounding him, but he does try to keep his feet on the Rock, Jesus. After all the Rookie hazing, in which the Rookies had to put on a show in which they had to go up front and tell a joke, or sing their college fight song, or tie the shoes of a veteran player, Chris is ready to show the Broncos and the world what Number 25 can do. As of right now, Chris is playing with the 2ndteam, but will be on the 1st team Dime Defense and will start on special teams. He really believes that the Broncos have come a long way; they believe in each other, get along with one another, are very confident, and are gelling as a team.
Being a former Jayhawk, Chris still finds the time to check up on his old team. He believes that the Jayhawks will do well this year and should improve from last season. Chris mentioned that they are a young team, and this season they will be seeing a whole new level of competition when they play all the South teams, like OU, Texas, and OSU.
Before my interview with him, he had already done one with Sports Animal in Oklahoma. I asked him how it went and he told me this: “I believe in helping out those who have helped me out in my career.” Even at the end of our interview, Chris told me to let him know if I need anything. Chris even gave me advice to give to my 10 year old son who plays tackle football. He told him to work hard every day, that there will be obstacles to overcome, but play for God and play for what you believe in and always give the glory to God. Chris is the type of role model I want my son to look up to, and hopefully, when he gets some jerseys, my son will get an autographed one.
With a snap of a finger life is changing for Chris, but his focus on helping others, being a role model and living for God will not change.