Recently, I was privileged to have been asked by the NFL to represent them as an ambassador to London. Looking to expand the game of football and talk to brands and sponsors from London, we are excited about the possibility of making football just as big as soccer over there.
This is a great opportunity for the game that I love, and grew up playing, to be broadened to new countries and new people. Many, though, having heard of the game still know nothing about it. And what a great game to learn! Soccer is huge over there and it would be great for them to have a new sport to continue to grow and popularize in their country. It’s also a great opportunity to rub shoulders with people from a lot of different backgrounds and platforms.
My role in going over on behalf of the NFL is not to tell them about the game, but to shed light on what it’s really like. From the outside, people like to share the controversies that occur in the NFL, just like in any sport. But as a former player, I can share about my experience and how much of a blessing this sport and organization has been in my life.
If American football does expand to new countries and people groups, that is something I can look back on and tell my grandkids about. It’s something you can hang your hat on — helping implement something for good. This sport taught me a lot about discipline both on and off the field, which is really important not only in football, but in life as a whole.
Football also taught me a lot about teamwork; it is the ultimate team sport. With so many guys on the team and field, there’s no way you can go at it on your own. As a running back, I can’t block for myself; I have to rely on my teammates. I also can’t receive the ball unless the quarterback throws it to me. You all have to work together and that’s a really good life lesson to learn.
I see how God has put stepping stones in my path. There have been many times when I know I can’t get across the lake unless God places the stones and helps me across. No one is selfmade, there are always people who help you out along the way — stepping stones that God places in your life. He’s always ready and willing to step in and make the impossible possible.
While I have always loved the game of football, I haven’t had any regrets or doubts about retiring. I was ready; I had done what I wanted to do. I played for a long time and when I sought God on this, He made it clear that my time was done. After the wear and tear of 10 years in the league, I know I’m onto bigger and better things for His name.
Being able to represent the NFL in London, be an analyst on NBC for the Chicago Bears with former teammates of mine, and being around to see my kids off on their first day of school — these are cherishable moments I no longer have to miss.
— Matt Forte, former NFL running back
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.