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New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder: 'The NFL is structured like 'Squid Game''

Nate Solder is a 33-year-old offensive lineman for the New York Giants. He was drafted by New England in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft and played seven seasons with the Patriots, winning Super Bowls XLIX and LI. He signed with the Giants in 2018, and after opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Solder rejoined the team for 2021. He explains below how a relationship with Jesus, not football victories or contracts, satisfies him.

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The most recent craze is the Netflix series called “Squid Game.” The Korean show has a dark plot and gruesome imagery. Even across cultures, we are gripped by the layers of meaning and the humanity we see in the ugliness. The characters are simultaneously evil with their deception and selfishness, and beneficent with their sense of fairness and cooperation.

In many ways, “Squid Game” is a compelling show because it reveals so many contradictions in American culture and in human nature. I cannot help but find connections to my own life and business. Big picture, the National Football League is structured like the squid games.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is the face of 32 different teams’ ownership, along with the thousands of fans who get enjoyment from the efforts of others. They hire coaches to run these teams. The coaches have very little control, they just keep things moving. The players are the squid game participants. Players cannot make the rules, nor can they ever change their odds or affect ownership. We just play the game. With great risk to body and mind, we try to earn the prize.

“Thanks to Jesus, the best thing I take out of the NFL is not the money or the Super Bowl rings. I found God and started a relationship with Jesus. That cannot be taken away or risked in this game, and is of far more worth and value than the money and the wins.” — Nate Solder

In my own experience, I chose to join the NFL not out of a passion for the game, but because the world told me I don’t want to miss the great opportunity. And I had a sinful desire to please the world. As a first-round pick, I willingly accepted the signing bonus and the salary, for it was far more than I could ever imagine. But along with the money came the expectations, the risk to my health and the consumption of all my time.

In the show, the families of the squid game participants did not know where their family members went; my family could relate. I was “gone,” chasing after wins and contracts with every waking moment. I am one of the few who have won the game — I was on a Super Bowl-winning team, I have earned multiple contracts. All along, I was miserable and only kept signing up because I was in the pursuit of more and more. I kept telling myself, “Maybe it’s the next accomplishment that is going to make me happy and all this craziness is worth it.”

I can tell you: After 11 years of playing in the NFL, all the money in the world and all the Super Bowl trophies are not worth losing your life.

Thanks to Jesus, the best thing I take out of the NFL is not the money or the Super Bowl rings. I found God and started a relationship with Jesus. That cannot be taken away or risked in this game, and is of far more worth and value than the money and the wins. My mission now is to show others they too can find a relationship with Jesus.

The NFL is not alone. Millions of Americans are abandoning their families and children. Millions of Americans are ignoring their mental health and the health of communities. Millions of Americans are more lonely and isolated, more sick and broke than ever before, yet we all keep chasing after material wealth, thinking that if we just have more, we can fix the problems. There will never be enough.

With Jesus, we have enough. Jesus plus nothing is greater than everything. It’s time we spent our Sundays with our families and communities, worshiping the Lord. It’s time we stop chasing after that which God already offers freely. It’s time we stop putting our trust in the world, and start putting it in God — for He is enough.

I was wrong to try and please the world, because my accomplishments will never be enough to satisfy it. Yet, my desire to please the Lord is fully accomplished and there is nothing I can do that will change how much He loves me because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

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