As training camp approaches, it’s clear the excitement is palpable. The season is about to start, there is the excitement of spending time with teammates after an offseason away from one another, and the opportunity to get back to the game we love. But training camp is also known to be a necessary evil. You know it’s going to be hot, you know there’s going to be a fight or two, you know you’re going to have to do some things that you don’t want to do, but it’s all a part of the job. The sacrifice of camp is how you get better, how you grow as a player and as a team. It’s how you get hardened. It’s a part of the overall process.
After a few weeks of training camp, the food starts to taste the same. It gets tiring being around the same people all the time. The pranks and jokes committed on rookies and young cats on the team are incomparable and are always some of the best memories made. There are always certain experiences you go through during training camp that solidify the team chemistry. It shows that you really have something special to look forward to during the season. These are the things the fans never really hear about or get to witness.
As an NFL athlete, moving from team to team is often a smooth transition. The main adjustment is the difference in team culture with each move. It’s our families who really struggle with the process of jumping from team to team, city to city. We ask them to uproot, pack up each house, and move somewhere new, with no definite time table on how long you will stay. You want the consistency of coming home to the same place while allowing your kids to sleep in the same bed. That structure is priceless. I grew up in the same home every day of my life growing up. I didn’t move and I didn’t know what it was like to move until I went off to college. Since graduating, I’ve been on the move ever since. They say the NFL stands for “Not For Long.” Having been on three different teams, it’s so good to be back with the Jets this year.
Looking back, I vividly remember the day I was selected in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft. The first day of the draft I was in Texas, down at my dad’s shop. I was doing everything in my power not to be anywhere remotely close to a TV. During that time, I spent a lot of time with family. I was actually asleep during the days of the draft when I started getting phone calls. The phone calls kept coming until the last day, while I was alone in my apartment, and I got the call from Pittsburgh. I left and picked up my girlfriend (now wife), went to the SMU football banquet to join a few of my teammates and was drafted into the League.
When I came into the League, I tried to connect with solid people — solid Christians. In Pittsburgh, there were a number great guys in the locker room. I knew me, I knew what I experienced earlier in college and I didn’t want to go down that road again. I started hanging with solid people who could hold me accountable. I found a church and got plugged in to community. Temptation is always there, whether it’s for greed, money, fame, females or something else. I knew me and what was truly important, so I tried to everything I could to stay away from that tempted part of me, knowing those things are of the flesh.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of His blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness.” — Romans 3:23-25
Experience is the best teacher. I know what sin does with my relationship with Christ and it’s not worth it. Nobody is perfect. We have a gracious God, but we also have a jealous God. The Bible talks about being either hot or cold. If you are lukewarm, He will spit you out. I was lukewarm in college.
Understand what the Word says. If you want to be a follower, be a follower. Pick a direction. Don’t sit in the middle.
— Kelvin Beachum, New York Jets offensive tackle
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.