Football season is officially here! It is definitely one of my favorite times of the year and “talking football” is fun even if I do have a very limited vocabulary. Can you imagine how exciting it was to meet THE Marcus Allen at our Ozzie Smith IMAC Regeneration Center in St. Louis and have the opportunity to discuss football? The only player in the history of football to have won a Heisman Trophy, an NCAA National Championship, a Super Bowl, and be named NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP and has also been inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame!
DOES MARCUS HAVE REGRETS ABOUT PLAYING FOOTBALL?
There are a lot of teenage boys who love the game of football and a lot of moms who are worried about the potential of injury, especially concussions. But, at the same time, being involved in a strong football program can be the difference between going to college and staying off the streets for a lot of kids. With so much controversy surrounding concussions and football, and being a football mom myself, I couldn’t help but start the conversation by asking Marcus if he has any regrets about playing football.
“I have never had regrets,” Marcus explains. “It is such a great game and taught me a lot about responsibility and facing challenges. My parents wouldn’t step in and solve my problems for me if I had issues with a coach or other players, so I had to figure it out. That made me a better man.”
DID MARCUS GROW UP WITH A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM?
We spent some time discussing how important it is for all kids to have adults that will invest in their lives. Unfortunately, it cannot always be the parents, but other adults can make a big difference in providing opportunities for success and encouragement. Marcus explained how he owes so much of his accomplishment to his parents and other family members.
“My parents were always at my games, took me to practice and made sure I had what I needed to be successful. And it wasn’t just them. I had aunts and uncles who supported me and I always knew I was loved. I know my success didn’t come on my own and I am very grateful for the investment my family has made into my life.”
Marcus knows all kids don’t have the same support at home. He learned those life lessons from stories his dad told him of his own childhood. His dad was the oldest of 11 children and had to leave home at 17 to make a life for himself away from a troubled environment. He taught Marcus that growing up in a tough environment isn’t an excuse to fail. “He promised to be the dad to me that he never had growing up,” Marcus explains. “He is a perfect example of a kid that grew up without family support but he knew he wanted more for himself and he worked hard to get it. He made a way for himself and for our family to be successful.”
WHAT ADVICE CAN MARCUS GIVE TO FOOTBALL MOMS?
I have to admit to Marcus that I cringe on every football play when my son is out on the field. There are so many people who say it’s crazy to let kids play football at all. I can’t count the number of people who have asked if I have seen the movie Concussion. How did his mom feel about him playing the game of football?
Marcus has a surprising response and smiles – “Let’s call my mom and she can tell you what I always said.” What an opportunity for me! I am going to hear from his own mother how she handled her son playing football. A few minutes later Marcus has his mom on the phone and asks, “Mom, what did I always tell you when I played football?”
After clearly being thrilled to hear her son’s voice, Mrs. Allen replies “You told me to never come down on the field.” (Marcus admits that is embarrassing). “And you promised me that when you got hit, you would always get back up.” Then Mrs. Allen shares a meaningful piece of advice with me. “I chose to walk by faith and not by sight. You have to trust God and believe he has everything under control.”
Wow! I never imagined I would be able to “talk football” with Marcus Allen, much less his mom! What a privilege for me. It was very kind of each of them to take the time to share experiences with a concerned football mom. As little as I know about football, we do both understand that football can be the only family some kids have, the positive activity that keeps teenagers off the streets and the path some athletes can take to college. It certainly has its concerns, but with the right program it can be the difference maker for a kids.
Marcus Allen has certainly earned his Hall of Fame status, broken countless records and remains one of the most distinguished football players in American history. To find out he has no regrets is interesting. To hear how grateful he is to his family is admirable. To know he believes football is still the greatest sport and can positively impact the lives of kids is inspiring. I am going to take Mrs. Allen’s advice and have faith that God is in control and has a great plan for each football player from the little leaguers to NFL guys. It is not easy being a football mom, but if she can do it, surely I can. See you under the Friday night lights!
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