Wide receiver Jason Avant is in his eighth NFL season. He was originally selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan. Avant devoted his life to Jesus Christ during his sophomore year at Michigan and refers to May 4 as his Christian birthday.
"I devoted my life to Jesus Christ on May 4, 2003. It was a day when, if you can imagine it, your eyes are opened to a whole different light. On that day, I had a consciousness of God that I never really had before. It's sort of like being in darkness, but you finally start to see. I realized that day that all of the stuff that I learned growing up was backwards, according to the Scripture. It was the day that changed my life. I started realizing that I had a purpose, and every thought from that day on went through a filter of Jesus Christ first. Before I can make a decision I have to think, ʻWould it be pleasing to God?'
There are a lot of religious players in the NFL, but what I have goes way beyond religion. It's a relationship. If you're in a relationship with a woman, when you walk down the street with her you don't want to walk in front of her or walk behind her. You let the whole world know that you're holding her hand and you walk side-by-side. That's the difference between a relationship and a religion. Yes, there are religious guys who are in the corner and don't let people know that they are Christians and that type of thing, but I want it to be a relationship where I'm not ashamed and my lifestyle is not where I talk one way and do something else. I wanted Him to be in everything that I do, whether I'm playing a game or in public. I want people to see Jesus, and I think that transcends the religious part and turns it into a relationship.
My relationship with God has not changed since I became a professional athlete. God has been shaping me since May 4, 2003. In college, a lot of my teammates thought that I would flunk out of school because I did more reading of my Bible than I did of other books. I always ended up with a high GPA, but I was preparing in the Word so that when I got to the NFL God had already groomed me to stand out and be different. The NFL has the influence because there are so many different things going on that if your character isn't right, it will consume you. You need your character to be right so that you don't go down with the pitfalls and traps of everyone else. That's what Christ does for me. He keeps my mind at a level plane so that when I see the janitor or the security guard, they're the same as me.
I host a Christ First Football Camp every year in Chicago and Camden, N.J. In our society, we try to give people solutions without Christ. That's society's mentality and its goal. We send them to Alcoholics Anonymous. We send them to clinics and have them talk to psychiatrists. Everyone is trying to solve your problems without Jesus. Personally, I find that to be very, very hard and virtually impossible for someone. If you could solve your problems without Christ, we all would be perfect.
That's what I want for my camp. I want to be able to help kids solve their problems by trusting in Christ, and to let some of the people know in the neighborhood that I was in that and if you put God first he can level the playing field. He can change your mentality. It's not just about being a good football player. The camp is about getting you to think different, so that you don't think that going into someone's house or selling drugs is OK. All of those types of things are impacting kids in the inner-cities, and that's what the camp is about - giving kids an option to see something different, to see a person walk different, to see the staff at camp speak something different than rap songs and videos, so that they can see a different part of life."
Straight Talk gives the players a chance to explain topics and issues that they are the most passionate about. This feature appeared in the Cowboys issue of Gameday Magazine.