If you listen to Kelvin Beachum and countless other NFL veterans, training camp can be a “necessary evil.”
The New York Jets left tackle has simply seen enough of summer practices over the years to know how much of a grind they can be.
“You know it’s going to be hot,” he said on the Sports Spectrum podcast. “You know you’re going to have a fight or two. You know it’s going to get a little testy. And you know you’re going to do some things you don’t want to do. But that’s training camp. That’s how you get better, that’s how you grow as a player, that’s how you grow as a team. You become hardened during training camp. It’s part of the journey.”
Beachum’s journey, however, didn’t just include the grueling days of training camp this year.
They also included days before camp. And on those days, Beachum didn’t eat. Literally.
Now, he knows as well as anyone, having played in the NFL since 2012, when he entered as a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, that camp requires players to bring as much strength and energy as they can muster. Eating, then, is as important as building muscle and gaining knowledge of the playbook.
But even more important than those things, to him, is “personally seeking God.” So from a Thursday through Sunday before training camp kicked off, the blindside protector on the Jets’ offensive line spent time fasting during a shut-in at church. For about three days, he sought nourishment only from his relationship with Jesus.
“And God continued to humble me and continued to [show me] intimacy with Christ,” he said. “Those are things that are most important. Football is great. But if I play football and lose my family and lose the covenant I have with Christ, none of this even matters.”
In Beachum’s own words, he was “protecting the gift that God has given me” — not the gift of great blocking abilities, or the gift of an NFL career, or the gift of playing for an up-and-coming Jets team, or the gift of making lots of money, but “the gift of life and the gift of grace.” He was doing it to “dive into Christ.”
Beachum is currently recovering from a foot injury as the Jets prepare for the 2018 season, but when he returns, he figures to reprise his role as the team’s No. 1 left tackle. He started all 16 games for New York in 2017, a year after one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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