Professional athletes are often held up as role models for our youth, and on occasion they actually should be.
After a stellar collegiate career at North Carolina and four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, 6’3”, 320 pound Jason Brown signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2009 and became the highest paid center in the National Football League. As one of the best linemen in the game, he’d seemingly reached the pinnacle of his career at 26. But it didn’t give him the satisfaction he desired. And three years after his record setting contract, Jason chose to walk away from the game.
He was not injured, he was not in trouble, he was not out of options. But he’d reached the conclusion that seven seasons of football, too much time away from his family, and life in the spotlight had distanced him from his values. Brown, a deeply religious man, felt God calling him to something else…something totally different. Even a new contract offer from his hometown Carolina Panthers could not tempt him to stay. His agent told him he was making the biggest mistake of his life, but this gentle giant disagreed.
And Jason Brown, professional football player, became Jason Brown, farmer.
Farming. Not the typical second career for a multi-millionaire, let alone one who had no prior experience farming. O.k., so he’s going to be a ‘gentleman farmer’, right? Own the property and hire laborers to do the dirty work? No. Jason is out there on a tractor, and occasionally on his knees working as hard as any of his crew. And here’s the real kicker---he’s not even doing it for the money. He sees this as a ministry opportunity. Again, not typical---but you’ve probably figured out by now that Jason Brown is not typical.
After he’d decided to make a difference for the good in a profession he knew nothing about, Jason threw himself into this new venture with as much passion as he had his football career. He began by watching Youtube videos, and then talking to farming friends in Louisburg, North Carolina, where he’d decided to open “First Fruit Farm.”
Here, on his 1,000 acre property, Jason has committed himself to the mission of eliminating hunger in North Carolina. He donates the first fruits of every harvest to local food pantries. And in his very first harvest he gave away 46,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 10,000 pounds of cucumbers. His motto is, “Never stop giving, never stop loving, never stop growing!”
In explaining his decision to leave football for the farm, Jason smiles, “When I think about success I think about a life of service.”
From success to significance…
Jason Brown is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.