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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Aaron Kampman: The Big Picture

By Eric Tiansay
Jan. 29, 2012

Aaron Kampman doesn’t have a “life verse,” but Romans 8:28 could arguably be the “season verse” for the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end. The well-known passage says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

Kampman, 32, played his first eight NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who won the Super Bowl last season. He played his last game for Green Bay on Nov. 22, 2009, when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. A Pro Bowl selection in 2006 and 2007, Kampman signed with the Jaguars as a free agent before the 2010 season. Kampman tore his ACL again in early November 2010, and had his second ACL replacement surgery in as many years shortly thereafter.

Although going to the Jaguars didn’t look like a good career move, Kampman didn’t question God’s timing of leaving the Green Bay team.

“Human nature would say, ‘Rats! I missed it by a year,’” said Kampman, who called and congratulated several of his former teammates after they won the Lombardi trophy. “The bigger picture for me is that in life, what really matters is relationships. I had a lot of great relationships in Green Bay. It was time to go. We made the decision to sign with Jacksonville. Don’t get me wrong; I’d like to accomplish winning a Super Bowl someday. … I’m very happy that the Packers achieved it. In the end, I’m trying to have?an eternal perspective for my life.”

Kampman knows the ups and downs of pro football, being on Green Bay teams that went 12-4 and 11-5, as well as two others that went 4-12 and 6-10. The Jaguars were 2-6 at the halfway mark of the 2011 season, and Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio was given an ultimatum to make the playoffs or be fired.

 “The NFL is a performance-based industry,” said Kampman, who was limited to a total of 17 games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons due to injuries. “It’s definitely neat to be a pro football player. But I constantly have to remind myself that this is an opportunity and a platform to share the difference Christ makes in my life. Some days I win and some days I lose. I realize my need for more dependence on Christ, instead of myself.”

Kampman also depends on the Jaguars’ Bible study group and Saturday chaplain service for fellowship and hearing God’s Word.

“I don’t get an opportunity to go to a weekly service [during the season], but we all need community around us,” said Kampman, who grew up in a Christian home and was born again during middle school. “I’ve been very fortunate to be on a team with several men who love the Lord and want to live for His glory. It makes it much easier to stay strong [spiritually]. We have team chaplain Anthony Johnson and solid guys like Rashean Mathis.”

Kampman studied the subject of suffering as an online student at Dallas Theological Seminary, where he earned a certificate of graduate studies during the offseason when he was with the Packers. The experience perhaps prepared him for undergoing two ACL replacement surgeries in two years.

 “These two injuries have not been any fun, but I’ve learned a ton about relationships and what’s important in life,” said Kampman, who has nearly 60 career sacks. “Hopefully, as I continue my career, I’ll be able to share the redemption that comes from continuing to trust that God will see me through. And He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion. I’m still on that journey. I want to continue to trust the Lord and live in the present.”

Kampman and his wife, Linde, have three sons who are all under 10: Lucas, Ben and Elijah. The couple is active with several Christian groups, including Compassion International and Gospel for Asia, which allowed them to travel and minister in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and Central America. 

Kampman has two years left on his current contract. “Who knows how long I’ll continue to play?” he says. “After playing football, there’s a lot of different opportunities to fulfill what God calls us to do.”

ERIC TIANSAY frequently writes for the Pentecostal Evangel Super Bowl Outreach Edition.

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