Rags to Riches

Super Bowl LIV has come and gone and unless you are a fanatic football fan, or you were stimulated or repulsed by the half time display of soft porn, it likely has become a meaningless memory. That being said, often times in big games like this there is a rags to riches story. Such was the case for the center for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, Austin Reiter.

In 2016 Austin was a center for the Cleveland Browns. The team went 1-15. In 2017, Austin returned for another season with the Browns, only this time was limited to special teams offensive line play. The team went 0-16. That’s the worst two year stretch of any franchise in the NFL.

Before the start of the 2018 season, Cleveland released him. Arguably the worst team the NFL has ever seen determined that Austin Reiter wasn’t good enough to play for it anymore. From the outside looking in, this made sense, your team goes 1-31 and you might as well clean house. After all, exactly how good could a special team’s player be who couldn’t crack an offensive line rotation that allowed a whopping 50 sacks in 2015 and also allowed their quarterback to be hit an additional 130 times?

Reider didn’t have much pedigree to argue. He was a two-star recruit out of high school before signing with South Florida. Then the Washington Redskins drafted him in 2014, but not until the seventh round. He spent his entire time in Washington on the practice squad and obviously no one in Cleveland thought much of him either. Maybe, it was fair to wonder if having the Browns fire him was a sign his NFL career was over.

“One man’s trash,” Reiter said, smiling, on Sunday night (of the Super Bowl), “is another man’s treasure.” Reiter, 28, was standing in the middle of the celebratory swirl of the Kansas City Chiefs locker room. He was wearing a Super Bowl champion hat on his head and a Super Bowl champion t-shirt over his shoulder pads. He was about to get his hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy, give it a kiss, and pose for     a picture.

The guy who couldn’t make it on one of the worst teams in the league had just been a starting center on the best team in the league. After playing in four games in 2018, the Kansas City chiefs rewarded Austin with a two-year guaranteed contract with up to $5.5 million “The NFL is crazy,” Reiter said. “The Lord works in mysterious way and here I am.”

After reflecting on Austin’s story, I began to think about all the “unlikely heroes” in the Bible—men and women whose “teams” would have released for their lack of integrity or productivity. The fact that Jesus called Peter to leave his career as a fisherman and follow him likely meant that Peter was not a very good student in school. We know about all the times Peter spoke before thinking and especially the time when Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was (what a lying dogfaced pony soldier).

And yet Jesus never gave up on Peter. After Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus and receiving Jesus’ forgiveness, Jesus re-signed Peter by saying, “Follow me.”

Peter would go on to become one of the great Apostles and would come to understand his reward saying, “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. (I Peter 1:4). What a rags to   riches story!!

And may it be so for you and me. Don’t ever give up; God’s not done with you. The Lord works in mysterious ways. You’ll play a part on his winning team!

Pressing on to win the prize,

Mike Altena

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