Tuesday, September 23, 2014

David Nelson--A Bright Spot in the NFL

The NFL has received a black eye, and I’m not just talking about a punch from Ray Rice.

The National Football League has always had a few bad boys, but they were isolated events. Michael Irvin had drugs and Michael Vick had dogs; there were off the field issues with Adam “Pac Man” Jones and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.

But today’s NFL seems to have given way to the thug culture, where violence, substance abuse, and fathering babies out of wedlock has become the norm.

Ray Rice sucker punched his then-fiancée, and his team may have tried to cover it up so he could play. Greg Hardy assaulted and threatened to kill a former girlfriend. Adrian Peterson beat his toddler with a switch to the point that he had lacerations on his legs and buttocks. And although Ray MacDonald maintains his innocence, he was just arrested for hitting his pregnant girlfriend.

These recent stories follow last summer’s unfolding drama of the alleged murders committed by Aaron Hernandez.

The NFL has had to double down on its domestic violence policy. It also cracked down on its substance abuse policy following multiple violations from guys like Wes Welker, Will Hill, Dion Jordan, and Josh Gordon.

Willis McGahee has nine children by eight different women, and Antonio Cromartie has an even dozen from nine different women. In a now-famous interview Cromartie struggled to name his children. 

I’m not trying to pile on these guys. In fact, I pray that they will get their lives straightened out. I bring them up because the NFL is under heavy fire to get its personnel under control. With its image in bad shape, many fans wish there were more Tim Tebows in the locker rooms and on the fields.

But there is one such young man: New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson. A Dallas native, Nelson made a name for himself catching passes from none other than Tim Tebow. He also won a pair of National Championships with Tebow and the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2008.

Leading by only three points late in the 2008 BCS Championship game, it was Nelson who grabbed a TD pass from the Heisman Trophy winner to put the Gators up 10 and seal the victory. Nelson went undrafted, but signed with the Buffalo Bills. His career, however, came to a screeching halt when he tore his ACL. When the news of the injury broke, Nelson took to Twitter with this simple tweet: “James 1:2-3,” a Bible verse instructing us to count it as joy when we go through hard times.

The Bills released Nelson following the injury, and the Cleveland Browns gave him a chance. It wasn’t much of one, because they never played him in the preseason for precautionary measures, and they cut him on the final day of roster cuts. David Nelson was out of the NFL.

The struggling Jets gave Nelson another chance late last season, and he has not disappointed. At 6’5” he gives his quarterbacks a great target, and his sure hands help him get the job done.

But beyond anything Nelson has done on the football field, he is more valuable off of it. After his ACL injury he took a trip to Haiti that changed his life. Now teamed with his two brothers Patrick and Daniel, David leads a ministry called i’mME, a Christian organization that takes care of Haitian orphans.     

As a follower of Jesus Christ, David Nelson is a good young man that kids can look up to and emulate. Don’t give up on the NFL just yet; guys like David are using it to promote their cause. I’m glad that there is still a bright spot in the NFL.

Keep shining, David.  

Check out this video that aired before Monday Night Football

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