The Ottumwa Courier

October 19, 2012

A huddle with the Lord

Ex-NFL pro talks good football teams, good decisions and the Good Book

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Lee Rouson isn’t just a former professional football players. He is also a child of God. And a pretty good singer, too.

“I love singing to God,” he said to a group of Seton Catholic School students.

They met the ex-New York Giants player in the church sanctuary of St. Mary’s of the Visitation on Thursday, which was, Rouson told them, actually his 50th birthday.

The students seemed a bit surprised at Lee Rouson’s somewhat familiar relationship with the Lord, like when he referred to his “heavenly Daddy.”

And he likes changing modern songs into songs to God, like the funky “Brick House” and the more sentimental, “You Are So Beautiful.”

But as a child of God, he said, he knows how to conduct himself. He had a playbook as a New York Giant.

“The Bible has all God’s plays for you,” he said.

Madison Brandt, a 10-year-old in fifth grade, said she liked hearing the player’s stories.

“About Jesus and God and love,” she explained. “And to find out who you’re supposed to be.”

“[So you can] be who you really are,” added Adam Denniston, a Seton fourth-grader.

That’s how you reach your potential, the students said after the presentation.

Adam’s favorite part of the presentation?

“The autographs.”

Madison’s favorite part?

“The stories.”

Rouson told how he played football for the University of Colorado. His teammate during the Blue and Gray all-star game was former NFL star Jerry Rice. When he sat down next to him on the team bus, Rouson asked him who he was.

“He said, ‘I am the best wide receiver in the NFL.’ We weren’t in the NFL at that time.”

Now, he said, Rice can look back on a career as one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history. He had always known who he was, and worked as hard as the best wide receiver in the NFL would be expected to work. And whether or not you’re a superstar, there is a lot of hard work required to be the best “real you” that you can be.

“You see these Super Bowl rings,” Rouson said to the kids, “but you can’t see all the blood and sweat that went into [winning] them.”

He never had the best statistics in college ball, he said. His team was on probation for something he didn’t have anything to do with. And lots of players just walked away. He said because he worked hard and never quit, the coach of the New York Giants saw something in him that he felt would make a good addition to the team. Rouson was a running back for the Giants and the NFL special teams player of the year in 1986.

“The four hours a day of lifting weights. The two hours a day of running. The times it was so hard I almost quit ... then told myself I will not give up. I will not quit.”

The oldest students leaned forward to get a good look at the two rings. Later, Rouson gave out football cards, which he signed.

“God is our heavenly father. He has told us how to live, and He [is pleased] when we all do this together.”

He got the students to clap and yell, “Break!”

“In a huddle with the New York Giants, the quarterback would say, ‘Are you ready?’ and all the players would clap their hands like this — and say, ‘Break!’ But this is what it sounds like when God is [the quarterback]: ‘Love one another. Love one another. Are you ready?’”