Why Glen Coffee Walked Away
By Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: November 25, 2010
When San Francisco 49ers running back Glen coffee entered the NFL as a rookie in 2009, his potential to become one of the league’s top running backs was undeniable. But on the brink of the 2010 season, he shocked the pro football world when at 23 years old he told them that he was ready call it quits.
Of course the question on everyone’s mind is, why? Why walk away from the lucrative contracts, the status, or more importantly, a lifelong dream. The answer is one that can be traced back to a decision Glen made during his playing days at the University of Alabama.
“Going into my sophomore season, I hurt my knee,” Glen tells The 700 Club. “I was going to miss the whole year, and up until that point, I entered college thinking I was going to be an all American all SEC (South Eastern Conference) and all of that. It wasn’t happening for me so I was at a point in my life where I was like, ‘What now?’ You know my whole life everything I did was football. Eat football, sleep football, and wake up in the morning thinking about football. It wasn’t happening like I planned. I didn’t take school seriously in high school or college because football was my only ticket.”
During his recovery, Glen got a new roommate.
“I started to realize that this guy has confidence. It’s not worldly. It’s coming from something else. So I just sat him down one day, and I was like, ‘What is it?’ And he told why he lived. He told me that he was on this earth to glorify God and that’s it, you know. Finally man, I said, ‘Christ, I need You in my life. I need You.’ I tried the other route. I tried football. It wasn’t worth it. So I asked Him into my life and it was just a 180. Everything I did was for Him and for His glory.”
As soon as Glen became a Christian all of his priorities in life changed.
“Football was no longer first. Christ was first, you know, and a couple of other things… family, friends. And football fell down the ladder. So one day I told Him,'Christ, look, You’ve got me playing football. I don’t necessarily love football anymore. I don’t love it. It was no longer my dream. If I’m out here playing, I’m going to play. I’m going to do the best I can to glorify You. So I need You to help me.’”
Glen recovered from his knee injury and in his junior year he rushed for over 1,300 yards.
“Every yard I gained was for His glory. When I was on the field, I honestly felt that if you tackled me you were trying to stop me from my ministry. Because I knew that the more media attention I got, the more I could deflect towards Him. And so I had that season and it was a great feeling, but even in having that season I still knew in my heart that football wasn’t it.”
But Glen still struggled with leaving his dream of playing professional football behind. So he left school early and entered the 2009 NFL draft. He was selected in the 3rd round by the 49ers. Looking back he says it’s a move he should have never made.
“I was doing what the world expected me to do. What my mom expected me to do and what my friends expected me to do. All I had known was football. My whole schedule was built around football. So to say I was thinking about walking away was scary. I tried to rationalize it. I said, ‘Okay, God, I did it in college. Let’s do it again.’ But my heart wasn’t in it. I was trying to talk myself up. I was trying to talk myself into it. It was hard, real hard. Because when you don’t listen to God’s will and you do what the world expects you to do, you never reach what you’re trying to reach. You’re always struggling, you’re in the water and you’re always trying to stay afloat.”
His rookie season Glen battled it out on the gridiron. But it was nothing compared to the battle going on inside. So to ease his mind he threw himself into the lavish lifestyle of a pro athlete.
“So I got the money and I started to splurge just a little bit to try to catch a feeling, to find some happiness. I know money didn’t buy happiness but I was going to try to find something. There had to be a reason everybody’s chasing money. I could never find it. I’d buy this or get this, or have this, and it didn’t mean anything.”
Glen reported to 49ers training camp for the 2010 season. He realized he faced a tough decision.
“I told Coach Singletary, I told my teammates, I was going to ride or die with y’all for four years at least. Then maybe think about my career after that. But it was burning inside me. ‘He’s telling you to do something. You didn’t listen so now you’re in this position, so now you’ve got to make a decision.’”
Glen continued through training camp hoping what he felt inside would simply go away. But it didn’t. One day before practice, he came to a crossroad.
“Getting up in the morning was just hard. It wasn’t because I was tired. I was tired spiritually. When you fight God and you’re of the kingdom, you’re going to lose that battle eventually. It’s going to wear down on your spirit. It’s going to wear down on you mentally, physically, all that. And it got to a point where I just couldn’t take it.
“I went into the locker room. It’s like five minutes before practice. I was sitting there and I looked down at my cleats and I’m thinking, ‘If I take this tape off of my cleats, I won’t have time to retape them. I’m really going to walk away.’ I get the tape cutters, and I cut the tape off of my cleats. It was like gorillas jumping off my back. I don’t like to say it, but it was really like shackles falling off my feet.”
On Friday, August 13, 2010, Glen announced he was leaving the NFL. Now, he’s back home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, planning to finish his last semester of college. Though he’s not exactly sure what the future holds, he’s making sure this time around he’s all about God’s plan for his life.
“Now I’m fighting for souls. I’m not fighting for a victory. I’m not fighting for a game. I’m fighting for souls right now. Christ is everlasting. He’ll never let you down. He’s always got your back. So follow His will and you’ll be fine.”
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