Profile of a Christian athlete: Derek Carr

On June 22, 2017 Derek Carr became one of the richest players in the NFL when he signed a 5-year $125 million contract extension with the Oakland Raiders.  The deal surpassed the previous record amount per year that had been signed by Andrew Luck last season.  The record-breaking contract came on the heels of an MVP-caliber season by the third-year quarterback.  In leading the Raiders to 12 wins and a playoff berth, Derek completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns against just six interceptions.  Unfortunately Carr broke his leg in week 16 and the Raiders lost in the first round of the playoffs without their star QB.  Despite the early playoff exit, Derek and the Raiders enter the 2017 season expected to vie for the AFC West, if not the Conference, title.

Immediately after signing his new contract, Derek was asked what he would do with all his new-found money.  After saying he would buy some Chick-Fil-A,  Carr said the first thing he would do with the money would be to tithe, just like he had since his college days at Fresno State in California.  Derek than went on to discuss his further plans for the money; “The exciting thing for me, money-wise, honestly, is that this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it and it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people, not only in this country, but in countries all around the world.”  When Derek said he would firstly pay a tithe off of his new contract, he was saying he would give the first ten percent of his money back to God, whether that was directly to a Church, or other charitable organizations.  By making this statement Carr was telling the world that the money was God’s first and foremost, and that God was now entrusting him with the money.  Tithing can be a struggle for Christians, and is a mystery to non-believers.  When Derek made that announcement in front of the Country’s media, he was setting a great example to follow for Christ-followers and non-believers alike.  He was letting selfishness go and becoming selfless, with plans to help as many people as he can with the money.  Unfortunately, Derek’s story hasn’t always been one of setting the right example, and he uses his past to now let Christ’s light to shine through him.

Despite accepting Jesus into his heart at an early age,  Derek’s path started veering away from God as a teenager.  After relocating from California to Texas, Carr felt a need to fit in with the cool crowd, and that was where things started going awry, as he told a California church in 2015. “I started hanging out, started going to parties, started having sex; I started doing all those things… Then I was like, ‘Well if I’m doing that I guess I can smoke a little weed. It’s not going to hurt,” Carr said. “I thought if I did these things and I prayed at night I would be alright.”  Carr’s struggles continued as he committed to Fresno State University, where he followed in his brother David’s footsteps to become the starting QB for the Bulldogs.  Living a selfish life, consumed by the partying lifestyle, Derek was confronted by his girlfriend Heather, herself a Christian.  Heather, concerned by Derek’s double-life, wrote him a letter which called Carr out for proclaiming he lived life as a Christian, but was really living out another life separate from God.  After receiving the letter from his future wife,  Derek’s life changed. “I crumpled it up, threw it in the trash, fell on my knees and I bawled my eyes out that whole night,” Carr said. “For hours I sat there and cried my eyes out because God had finally grabbed my heart and said, ‘What are you doing? Enough is enough, I’m putting my foot down on your throat and I’m changing your life today.”  Derek went on to fully commit to living his life for God, and finished his Fresno State career as a two-time All American, two-time Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, and the owner of 27 school and 41 MWC records.  In 2014 the Oakland Raiders selected Carr with the 37th pick in the NFL draft. In three years with the Raiders, Derek has amassed 11,194 passing yards, 81 touchdowns and a 22-25 record as a starting QB.  Off the field, Derek and Heather remain heavily involved in the community, working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Valley Children’s Healthcare and numerous other local and national organizations.

Derek’s story is a great example that you don’t actually have to be perfect to live life fully for God or help others, you just have to make the commitment itself to Christ and those in need.  Whether your impact is made financially or through the act of working with others, Christ can use an imperfect person to serve His perfect will.

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