Ask Daniel Jeremiah about virtually any NFL draft hopeful, and he’s quick to rattle off information you might not have even known to ask for. Strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, statistics, even biographical facts. Like a super-computer, Jeremiah condenses his vast football knowledge into succinct, useful scouting reports that help give football fans insight into their favorite players.
Jeremiah’s encyclopedic mind perfectly suits his various roles as an NFL Network analyst, NFL.com contributor and co-host of the “Move the Sticks” podcast. He knows he was made to do this. He knows God placed him in these roles to glorify Jesus’ name and further God’s Kingdom.
But Jeremiah’s path to covering the NFL on national television has been far from easy and far from simple, and it has tested his faith at every step.
Faith defined young Daniel’s world. His father, David Jeremiah, is a celebrity pastor in San Diego and his school met on the grounds of the Shadow Mountain Community Church.
“Anybody who’s a pastor’s kid would tell you, you’re definitely growing up in a fishbowl,” Jeremiah said on the Sports Spectrum Podcastd earlier this year. “I mean, everybody’s kind of keeping an eye on you and paying attention to you.”
Jeremiah didn’t mind all eyes being on him. In fact, it kept him out of trouble. After all the love and support his parents had shown him, Jeremiah couldn’t bear the thought of embarrassing his dad by getting in trouble himself.
“I was so blessed to have such a great home to grow up in,” Jeremiah said. “[Childhood] was a great experience.”
Jeremiah’s father played college basketball at Cedarville University and was very involved in ministering to the San Diego professional sports teams. He acted as the chaplain for the NBA’s Clippers (then playing in San Diego) and often led chapel services for NFL teams in town to play the Chargers.
His father’s interest in sports quickly rubbed off on Daniel, an avowed Dallas Cowboys fan in his youth. Jeremiah played quarterback in high school, and his abilities garnered interest from some college programs. He played at Northeastern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) for a year before finishing out his career at Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.
With newfound independence on the other side of the country, college presented Jeremiah with new tests of faith. But God’s strength never wavers. Jeremiah made and continues to make mistakes as all believers do, but the foundation God built in his life at an early age withstood it all. He even launched a team Bible study while at Appalachian State that thrived for years after he left.
“With everybody’s faith journey, there are moments when you’re more plugged in than others,” Jeremiah said. “I think that’s totally normal. I never had a moment where I doubted my faith. I never had a moment where I ‘backslid’ in a different lifestyle or anything like that.”
An injury kept Jeremiah on the sideline during his senior year in 2000 and quashed a playing future, so he turned his attention to the broadcasting dream he’d had since high school.
View this post on Instagram
My favorite moment of the weekend–This is a couple hours before the draft on Thurs night. When I was in college, I met Chris Mortensen and we instantly hit it off. I let him know early on how much I loved the NFL Draft. He was kind enough to let me intern for him at the Draft in 2000…it was a thrill to be a small part of my favorite event. Fast forward 17 years later– I found myself sitting at the main desk for NFL Network's draft coverage. I wouldn't have a broadcasting career without Mort's help and guidance. So, it was pretty special to share this moment with him. Love you Mort!!!
Eventually, Jeremiah found his way to the NFL Sunday Night Football crew as a production assistant for two seasons. It was in the press box one Sunday night in Baltimore that Jeremiah bumped into his brother’s college roommate.
“Ever thought about scouting?”
Jeremiah had never considered it before, but he jumped at the opportunity. After four years as a scout with the Ravens and two more with the Browns, the whole scouting team was fired. A time of questioning God began:
“Was going to Cleveland the right move? What does my future even hold?”
Maybe more than ever before, Jeremiah had to hold tight to God’s promises.
“Whatever plans you think you have for yourself, just have faith that God’s got a much better plan,” Jeremiah said.
Believing that promise from above wasn’t easy. But it was so worth it.
In 2011, Jeremiah had almost secured a position with ESPN when the NFL lockout hit. No one was hiring a football savant. Instead, simply needing to support a young family, Jeremiah landed another scouting job with the Eagles.
Two years later, the NFL Network came calling in need of an analyst. At long last, after a lifetime of twists and turns, Jeremiah accepted the position he knew God had prepared for him.
“The job that I have now would have been my dream job growing up,” Jeremiah said. “This is exactly what I’d want to do.”
Jeremiah admits that he has questioned God in the past. But now, looking back on his path, he sees God’s hand in every situation.
In college, Jeremiah wasn’t sure how to break into the broadcast industry. One day, as Jeremiah came home from his father’s church to eat lunch, he found ESPN’s Christ Mortensen seated at the table. The two struck up a conversation and formed a friendship that extends to this day. “Mort” offered Jeremiah the opportunity to shadow him at Super Bowl media day, intern at the Orange Bowl and help him out at the NFL Draft. It was also Mortensen that helped launch Jeremiah’s popularity as a scout. Mortensen suggested to his own Twitter followers that they follow Jeremiah for player evaluations.
“Without ‘Mort,’ there’s no way I would be where I am,” Jeremiah said. “It was just a total God thing putting us together.”
As an injured college senior sitting on the training room table, Jeremiah saw God at work again. Jeremiah saw his brother’s college roommate in town for a scouting trip — the same one who a few years later would offer him his first scouting job with the Baltimore Ravens. Without an encounter in the training room that day, the two would have never recognized each other in an NFL press box and Jeremiah would have never been where he is now.
“Me getting hurt was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Jeremiah said.
And even when Jeremiah decided to uproot his family from Southern California to Bristol, Ct., to join ESPN, God’s plan was better.
The NFL lockout hit, what Jeremiah thought was a big blow to his broadcasting dreams. He had to wait on his goals for two years as a scout for the Eagles, where God revealed to him his need for greater patience. Then NFL Network — based in California — came calling. Jeremiah’s setback had only resulted in a better offer. He didn’t have to move across the country.
God doesn’t always give His followers what they want, but He always gives them what they need to grow in faith.
“You go through life and you look back at these different moments and you say, ‘OK, God was there, God delivered, God was there, God delivered,’ that just strengthens your faith,” Jeremiah said. “It’s not going to be smooth. There’s going to be rough moments but hey, there’s a plan. There’s a purpose. And your faith grows through each and every experience.”
Jeremiah’s father often told his kids they could still make an eternal impact outside the ministry. Now, Jeremiah sees just how true that is, and that he can do it with relationships. He identifies believers in his life and simply provides a listening ear or a caring word. Whether it’s Carson Wentz, Brandin Cooks or Zach Ertz in the NFL, or someone in his broadcasting field, Jeremiah can’t help but show other believers the sacrificial love that Christ first showed him.
“Look at the pain and suffering that [Jesus] went through, and He did it for you. He did it for me. He did it for everybody. He lived the ultimate selfless life,” Jeremiah said.
As for what God is teaching Jeremiah now, well, he’s quick with that answer too.
“I’m learning the Lord has a sense of humor,” Jeremiah said.
He’s recently read about the downfall of sluggards in Proverbs 6. God’s people were designed to work. So when Jeremiah begins to feel overwhelmed when he has work on TV, “Move the Sticks” and NFL.com all at once, or when he has to learn everything about 400 draft hopefuls in a six-week span, it can be overwhelming.
Yet after all Jeremiah has learned from God in his life, he’s certain of one thing: The Lord alone will give him ultimate rest.
– NEW PODCAST: Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network Analyst
– NEW PODCAST: Lee Strobel – Author “The Case for Christ”
– Vikings chaplain stays firm in bringing Gospel influence to NFL