At the start of the 2012 NFL season, Josh Brown found himself in an unusual position. For the first time in 10 years, he wasn’t on a roster despite nine combined years with the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. It was a tough reminder of how football has become just as much a business as it is a game.
But during that time, Brown was able to spend time with his wife and children and reflect on the blessings he has received thanks to his life in the NFL. Late last season, Brown got back on the field as game-to-game replacement for injured Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent, and for the 2013 campaign, the veteran kicker found a new home with the New York Giants.
In this Inspiring Athletes interview, Brown talks about being raised in a Christian home, how some tough times at the University of Nebraska changed his perspective on faith and why playing in the Super Bowl is his second most exciting sports moment:
Chad Bonham: How big was the jump from playing eight-man football in Foyil, Oklahoma to playing at the elite Division I level for Nebraska?
Josh Brown: I think I was very naïve coming from such a small town and doing so well playing eight-man football. It was a very big change for me to give up the chance to run the ball or catch the ball or play safety. I had opportunities to accomplish those goals. But in the end, kicking was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to see how far I could take it. I just enjoyed it. But it was a very big awakening in my life to be in such a big place.
Bonham: What do you remember most about the game day experiences in Lincoln?
Brown: It’s absolutely overwhelming. ] You can’t sleep at night because you’re so excited to play in the stadium. Emotionally it’s overwhelming to walk in that locker room and see your name on the back of that jersey. But you’re so fired up. You’re so focused on what you have to do that day because you have so much pride in what Nebraska football represents. You don’t want to let those fans down. There is nothing better than that Nebraska tunnel walk. It was more exciting for me to walk out of the Nebraska tunnel than to walk out at the Super Bowl. Guys are like, “That’s impossible.” And I always tell them, “You have no idea.” The Super Bowl obviously isn’t a far second, but to me there is nothing better than being able to walk out of that tunnel with my teammates at Nebraska.
Bonham: During your junior and senior years, how did some of the mistakes you made away from the field bring you back to the Christian faith that you embraced in your home growing up?
Brown: Being 20, 21 years old, I was very naïve. Sometimes it was just a pure lack of common sense, being young and dumb. Going through those things were some of the most embarrassing and most trying moments of my life. But I was able to take those lessons and understand that I am in control of me. No one has the power to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. I had to have a wake up call for myself. Ultimately I did return to the faith that I grew up in, that my parents tried to instill in me. But I had to find my own faith. I had to read the Bible for what it had to say to me and not what it said to my folks and what it said to my friends. I had to have a personal relationship with Christ. I had to nurture that relationship myself. No one was going to help me. That was a big wake up call for me.
Bonham: Are you thankful for God’s grace and the opportunity to help other people through your past experiences?
Brown: There’s no measure to the grace that God has shown me. No measure. Every day, we thank Him for that. We make our kids very aware of how fortunate we are, not only financially but just to be together, to have a home, to have the ability to love on each other freely and practice our faith freely. It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that somebody loved me enough to not only die for me but to give me the opportunity to screw it up and love me enough to let me back in. That’s what’s amazing to me. We serve a God who is that forgiving even though He knows, because He was us. He sent Jesus to live in our skin. He experienced emotions that real men experience. He became us. He knows the trials we go through. He knows the temptations that we face. He knows the opportunities that come our way and He knows how hard life is. So we serve a God that not only knows us inside out from before we were born, but He can also relate to us as men.
Read much more from Josh Brown in the new book Husker Legacy (Cross Training Publishing). Husker Legacy also features past players such as Trev Alberts, George Andrews, Todd Brown, Turner Gill, Eric Hagg, Chris Kelsay, Mike Minter, Cory Schlesinger and Jerry Tagge, as well as long-time assistant coach Ron Brown, former assistant George Darlington and college football legend Tom Osborne.