I’m now in my second year out of the league, and I have to say, I have a much easier time enjoying football. Instead of feeling like I’m on the outside looking in, waiting to see if I’m called back, I’m able to appreciate the sport for what it is. I can root for other guys and enjoy the sport as it was meant to be.
Transitioning out of football can be a really hard thing. Many people really struggle with finding their identity in their game, sport or business. When that avenue is taken away, they don’t know what to do next — what their purpose is. During the past two years, I’ve been able to use my experience and platform to help other guys through that transition. If we understand that our identity is in Christ alone, instead of what we do or accomplish, then we can live a life of fulfillment — for His glory.
Now that I’m no longer an active player, I’ve found that guys really respect the hardship of transition just as much as they do the act of competing. A lot of the guys I’ve been talking to who are transitioning out of the game feel stuck. Wrestling with depression, lack of purpose, direction and insecurity, they feel like they’re in a funk, unsure how to get out of it.
You see the same struggle in the mind of an active player though. When you try to do everything right — trying to impress your coaches and teammates, while attempting to measure up to unrealistic expectations — you will fail. But when you take that burden off your shoulders and let Christ lead you where He wants to lead you, you feel a huge relief. Only then can you perform at the level Christ has called you to, instead of the level you think you need to reach. In my experience, those two levels don’t usually align. We’re so used to going as fast and as hard as we can that we don’t stop and listen to what God is asking of us.
Patience is learned when we choose to go with His plan. Not one of us is going to change the world overnight on our own. God doesn’t put that expectation on us, so why should we? Lately, God has been teaching me patience by putting different challenges and hurdles in front of me. He’s making sure I realize that I’m not a football player; I’m a Christ-follower. I belong to Christ not because of anything I’ve done, but because of all that He’s done for me. Recognizing and living in that truth allows me to do all the other things He wants me to do, and much better than I would on my own!
While you’re in the game, you are so focused on yourself. It’s ingrained in athletes to perform; no one else will earn your spot on that team for you. But when you transition out of the game, you suddenly realize that life’s not all about you. There are others who need your help and who you need help from. There’s a much bigger purpose in life outside of football. Football is a platform for that purpose — nothing more, nothing less.
— Tyler Clutts, NFL fullback
Tyler Clutts is a former NFL fullback with the Browns, Bears, Texans, Dolphins and Cowboys. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.