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Living my dream

By David Carr

In 2002, David Carr became only the 12th quarterback selected with the top overall pick since the NFL and AFL became one league in 1970. The Houston Texans then signed him to a seven-year contract. He became the team’s starting quarterback after winning the job during training camp.

I started throwing a football when I was in diapers. I’d throw it either straight into the floor or behind me. That’s how my football career began.

Over the years, throwing a football on the living room floor turned into playing backyard football. Dad would hold my little brother under his arms and chase me all over the yard and throw my brother on top of me. I guess that’s where I learned football is a contact sport.

When I was 9, our family moved to Fresno, Calif. I attended Mountain View Elementary School, where I played tackle football for the first time. I’ve played quarterback my whole career. At a young age people would tell Dad that God had blessed me with a gift and talent. If I gave God the glory and praise for what I accomplished, they would say, God would continue to bless me and let me play. At first, I thought I was just having fun on the football field. But God has been in all of this, and He’s been faithful.

In junior high, we went 10-0 and were the Raisin Bowl champions. I completed 75 percent of my passes and was the team’s MVP. Things were looking up. But, more importantly, that was the year I joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

One night, my coach, who led the FCA, told me we were going to have a special guest speaker and I needed to attend. I didn’t know who it was and he wouldn’t tell me. We went to my friend’s house and there were about 15 people there. We were in a garage hanging out, and in walked Trent Dilfer, who at that time was quarterback at Fresno State. He spoke for 15 minutes, but to this day I can’t tell you one word he said because I was so in awe that he was there with me.

After that, Dad started taking my brother and me to Fresno State practices and games. The first time I saw a Fresno State game and watched the players walk down the ramp, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

We moved back to Bakersfield for my freshman year of high school, and suddenly my football dreams were put on hold. I didn’t play because they said I was too small. I was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 105 pounds. It was difficult because I had just come off a great year going undefeated and we were doing really well. But I trusted in God and kept practicing. Dad and I would practice early in the morning or late at night, whatever it took. My sophomore year I didn’t start either — I didn’t even play on the junior varsity team.

I knew that if I wanted to fulfill my dream of playing college football, I was going to have to get going. My junior year I finally made the varsity team and started and things went really well. We went further in the playoffs than our school had ever gone. God was blessing me by giving me the opportunity to play.

Colleges started contacting me my senior year. They would approach Mom and Dad and anybody who was close to us to try to persuade me to go to their school. Schools like Washington, Purdue, UCLA, just to name a few, offered me scholarships. But it didn’t feel right.

Fresno State was the team I had always wanted to play for, but they hadn’t called and it was getting close to the national letter of intent signing date. One night, Dad couldn’t sleep. He went downstairs and prayed. The next morning Fresno State called and offered me a scholarship. It was an unbelievable blessing from God and I thank Him for that to this day.

I finally got to put on the red Fresno State jersey and walk down the ramp. But things didn’t happen like I had planned. I thought I could go in there like Trent Dilfer had, flip Fresno’s record book upside down and leave a trail of glory. My freshman and sophomore years I only played a little. My junior year I wore street clothes and a headset. I thought I was going backwards. But God had a greater plan for me. I was growing as a Christian. I learned to cast my cares upon the Lord.

The next year it was finally my turn to walk down the ramp as Fresno State’s starting quarterback. God blessed us with a wonderful season and, although it didn’t end how we would have liked, it was a lot of fun. I thank God for that. Being on national television gave my wife and me the opportunity to share the love of God to the nation, and we’ve had a lot of fun with it.

It hasn’t been an easy road. I didn’t always play and a lot of things went wrong, but God never said it would be easy. He just said I wouldn’t have to do it alone. And I haven’t. He’s been with me every step of the way, and my family has been there too.

God has a plan for each of our lives. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, teacher or cab driver. You don’t have to be a football player. God gave me the ability to throw a football, but not for obvious reasons like entertaining a crowd. He did it so I could have a platform to share my faith.

I love football. I eat it, breathe it and sleep it. But I love God so much more, and I thank Him every day for what He has given me and for the opportunity He has blessed me with. I always try to live by this truth: What I am is a gift from God; what I become with it is a gift back to God.

From an address given on September 9, 2001, at People’s Church (Assemblies of God) in Fresno, Calif., G. L. Johnson, pastor.

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