by Samantha Chang
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr spoke out for the first time since being unceremoniously benched for the final two weeks of the NFL season.
In a moving speech last week at ChurchLV in Las Vegas, the devout Christian said he does not feel sad or defeated because his football career took an unexpected downturn.
Carr, who has preached the Gospel at churches in California and elsewhere, said his recent struggles only strengthened his faith and belief that God is using him for a higher purpose.
“I’m a little fired up these past couple of weeks. I’m going through some stuff a little bit, right? And I’ve found out that nothing can get me down,” the 32-year-old NFL star said. “Nothing can kick my feet out from under me.
“There’s nothing that can come against me where I’m not going to win in the end. There’s nothing that can come against my household, for the Spirit of God breaks it free and says, ‘We don’t need to worry about that.’”
Carr, who has spent nine years with the Raiders in Oakland and Las Vegas, reassured his family, friends and fans that he’s not only surviving this latest trial but is thriving.
“Do you all know how many text messages I’ve gotten saying, ‘Are you OK?’” he said.
“Stop asking if I’m OK. You don’t really know me if you’re asking if I’m OK. You don’t know the God that I know.”
The father of four goodnaturedly added: “I’m just kidding. I love when people text me. Because I’m like, ‘Man, you all really love me.’ I thank you. Thank you so much for praying for me. Yes, I’m doing good.”
Carr said instead of whining and wallowing in self-pity, we all should be grateful for the many blessings in our lives.
“We’ve got to get out of the negativity. We got to stop complaining,” he said. “What are those things that are holding you captive? Quit being comfortable there. It’s easy to stay there. It’s easy to point the finger at other people. It’s easy to blame others.”
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback said no matter what obstacles fall in his path, he will always strive to be his best self and not succumb to negativity because he knows God has a plan for him.
“I’m just going to keep striving to be the best version of me that I can be,” he said. “I’m going to keep trying to be better at whatever I do next. … It’s uncomfortable. It’s so easy to do it the other way.”
Carr continued, “But instead, I said, Lord, what is it that you’re trying to reveal to me in this season? Lord, what is it that you’re trying to do in my heart in this season? Patience. Forgiveness.
“Do they deserve it? It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t ask me if they deserve it. He didn’t ask me if they deserve that. … That wasn’t on the agenda for me. The agenda for me was just to forgive. The agenda for me was just to have peace.”
Carr reflected on the bittersweet ending to his Raiders career, saying when God closes one door, he opens another.
“Nine years. One place. It’s been hard. … But aren’t we thankful that whatever it has God has asked you to do that he can be the one to say, ‘Why don’t you just put it in my hands? Why don’t you just give it back to me?’”
“I have walked through the hardest times of my life — not knowing if my son was going to make it, not knowing if my grandpa was going to make it, not knowing what’s next, not knowing my next step, not knowing these things — and I’ve walked through these times with an absolute peace and a grace that has covered me,” he said.
Carr’s unwavering optimism is rooted in his Christian faith.
On his personal website, the NFL star underscored that playing football is his job but being a man of faith is his life mission.
“Being a quarterback is what I do, but it does not define who I am,” he wrote. “I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ.
“Each time I step out on the field, I play my heart out for the Lord. My Faith keeps me centered, and I look forward to what God has in store for me on my journey through life.”
Two weeks ago, Carr bid an emotional farewell to his fans on Twitter and Instagram and reaffirmed that he will do his best to achieve his goal of winning a Super Bowl championship.
“I once said that if I’m not a Raider I would rather be at home and I meant that, but I never envisioned it ending this way,” he wrote.
“That fire burning inside of me to win a championship still rages. A fire no man can extinguish; only God.”
Carr added: “So I look forward to a new city and a new team who, no matter the circumstance, will get everything I have. Winning a championship is what I’ve always wanted and what I will continue to work towards.”
With his exemplary humility and grace, Derek Carr can’t help but win — both at sports and in life.