NFL Kicker David Akers on Navigating Life's Kicks
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“My first kick off in a regular season NFL game went down to the 10 -yard line, not that great of distance but it had a lot of hang time. So Steve Buchard for the Seahawks catches it, he heads right up the middle, he cuts out to his right and it’s gone 90 yards, for a touchdown on my first kickoff in the NFL. It’s like welcome.”
Place kicker David Akers’ NFL debut with the Washington Redskins only got worse.
“So I had kick off returned, missed two field goals, oh, and I had to do an onside kick, that we did not get, so needless to say, I was cut the next day,” recalled Akers.
In just one game, it seemed that David’s dream of being a NFL kicker ended before it even got started. But his fortune changed and he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. For the next 11 years he was on top of the world, racking up five Pro Bowl selections. He was also raising three kids with his wife Erica and growing in his relationship with God. Life was good
“ Everything was going peachy. Financially we’re doing great, our kids are healthy, we’re happy, I’ve got a great career going on, I have a lovely wife, my marriage is great, everything is wonderful”, said Akers.
But storms were on the horizon, and David would find out how much he needed God. It started in 2009. David had been putting away money into what seemed to be a solid investment for retirement.
“ I started to get calls that the place where I had my investments, it looked like some illegal things were going on.”
David had fallen into a Ponzi scheme that victimized 300 people. He says he lost close to 5 million dollars.
“ How did we lose all of this?” questioned David. “I worked so hard, I finally make the dream of playing in the NFL, we haven’t lived outside our means, I don’t have the Ferrari’s and all the different cars, and blown it on jewelry or whatever, now I wish I would have, you know, someone else is getting the chance to do that not me. So it was very frustrating, a why God moment.”
Still reeling from this financial wipe out, David had a rough start to the 2010 season. But his wife gave him the encouragement he needed.
“My wife’s like, have some faith, God is going to hold you with this, you’re going to be fine.”
David was encouraged by those words and a week later had the first perfect game of his career.
“ Every field goal I made around 40 yards, I had all touch backs, into the wind, it was a great day. I came back in and I thought my wife would say atta way! And she goes don’t you ever doubt God again. That’s what she texted me!” laughed Akers.
But David would have to trust God for something far more important than a football game. His six-year-old daughter, Halley, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and her left ovary had to be removed. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
“ From the time of the prognosis to the time of the surgery I had to play a game.”
Not just any game. The Eagles faced the Packers in the playoffs – a trip to the Superbowl on the line. David’s concern for his daughter clouded his performance.
“I had a horrible game. I missed two kicks, now my wife said I was never mentally there, I always thought I could put stuff away. Maybe I didn’t on that day,” Akers remembered. “We lost by five points, I missed two field goals, as Andy Reid said, you do the math.”
Later that year David left the Eagles. But things started looking up. By now Halley had completely recovered and, he got picked up by the 49ers. David had a great season and even kicked a 63-yard field goal, tying the NFL record. But more storms were on the way.
“I felt like I was never getting out of one,” said Akers. “The sun might peak but then, Blammo! Thunder and lightning again. But to say my faith was challenged would have put it lightly.”
The following season, David had double hernia surgery and his performance suffered.
Akers admitted, “It was a mess. Guys came in to compete during the playoffs, and it was like what’s going on here? I felt bad for letting my team down.”
Still they made it to the Superbowl and David pulled it together, making all three of his field goal attempts. Still San Francisco lost, 28-23.
“I can tell you at the end of the Superbowl I cried because the whole emotion of the year came down on me.”
Once again, David was released, and signed with Detroit. He knows God guides him through life’s storm but says it’s still tough.
“I’d read Romans 3-5. Rejoice in the trials and the sufferings. Who rejoices in trials and sufferings? It is brutal!”
He says it’s the next verse in Romans 5, that’s the kicker.
“ It’s the perservence and I can make that same understanding in my football life. Because without persevering getting cut three times, now four times, that if you don’t persevere and get through that, then you don’t have that refining period. And the refining period is developing your character. And it’s through God and our hope through Jesus that gives us that. The grace that you can fall back on.”
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