Find Hope

NFL role model living a double life.

I was out in the bars getting drunk on Friday and Saturday. I was hoping the people in church didn’t see me in the bars. I was hoping the people in the bars didn’t see me in church


My first year was a good one. I had a forty yard average. My second year, I got on Monday night football. Those announcers gave me a nickname. They said; “Every time he kicks it, it sounds like it’s thundering. So we are going to call him Thunder Foot.” My son calls me up and said; “Dad, I have researched this, you’re the only punter in NFL history that ever had a nickname that stayed with him all of his career. Sure enough, that’s true. It was about that time they started NFL chapel programs. Early one morning the day of a game this guy calls me with the most cheery voice and said; “Would you come to my chapel program?” I thought, well you know, I will do God a favor today. I will go to that Chapel program and He will probably give me a good game. I never doubted there was a God. When I was growing up, I think everybody went to church in the small town we lived in. Every Sunday I would go, my Mom and Dad used to make me. I would walk into this church and it seemed like every time I went, the preacher where I went, he used to scare me half to death. I was scared of preachers. Every Sunday he would do the same thing. This guy would get up and he would start out low but as his talk went, he got louder and louder and louder and after a while he would be screaming at everybody in church. He would scream at you for about thirty minutes and then everybody would leave. I thought, well that’s what they do at church, they scream at you. So I walk in and I sit down in the back row. About twenty Detroit Lion guys shows up. Finally this older man walks in. He’s like all the other preachers I have seen before. Finally they introduce him and he stands up and starts out low. I was going to time him. I was going to see how long it took him before he started screaming at us. Five minutes goes by. Ten minutes goes by. He hasn’t screamed at us yet. I’m thinking; “Man, this is pretty good. He’s got a smile on his face. I sort of like this.” I walked by him. He grabbed me by the hand and looks me squarely in the eye. He said; “You’re Herman Weaver, aren’t you?” I said; “Yes sir.” He said; “I have been noticing you today.” I’m thinking, man these preachers must know everything. He said; “It looks like to me that you are searching for something in life.” I could not believe he said that. Those very same words had been on my heart all week. But I was prideful too. I said; “Man, I had a great year in punting last year. I had a hundred young people ask for my autograph last week. I make a whole lot of money. I’m on top of the world. He said; “Well, I don’t think so. Can I leave you with three words before you go?” I thought three words? What difference is that going to make? He talked for thirty minutes and he is going to give me three words. He looked at me like no one had ever looked at me before. He said; “Herman, do you realize that God loves you?” I said; “Wait a minute. There’s no way for that. I have done so many bad things in my life that you can forget that part. It’s over for me.” He said; “I think somebody told you wrong.” I said; “If this is all true. What can I do?” He said; “You can invite Jesus into your heart.” I made the best decision I have ever made in my entire life that night, along with my wife. We both got down on our knees and we said a simple prayer of faith. I felt so good about that, I started sharing that with people all over Detroit. But then I went from Detroit back to Knoxville Tn. I got back there and all of my drinking buddies were still there. None of those guys had changed at all. It wasn’t before long that I started to live a double life. I was the type of person after a while you’d see in church on Sunday. I was out in the bars getting drunk on Friday and Saturday. I was hoping the people in church didn’t see me in the bars. I was hoping the people in the bars didn’t see me in church. I lived that kind of life for seven long years. I became more depressed than ever. I said there is no point to life. This doesn’t work. Nothing works. Then out of the clear blue sky, the guy who started the chapel program starts a ministry called “Sports World Ministries.” He calls me out of the blue, hadn’t even talked to me in seven years. He said; “I remember what you did a few years ago. He said; “Can you come to Atlanta Georgia, get some training and go out and share your story with young people all across the country?” I had to go to West High school in Knoxville TN and speak in front of twelve hundred high school students. As far as I knew, I was going to have to lie to everyone of them. I was going to say; “You guys need to live the right kind of life when I knew I was living it the wrong way.” That particular afternoon my son and daughter were at a Birthday party. My son was eight years old. My daughter was six. He went up a tall tree behind back behind their Grandparents house. My daughter looked up and thought that would be fun. She decides to climb her first tree. Turns out that she went up as high as he did and she hit a short limb. She fell from that tree and landed on her back. Now she’s on a gurney and they’ve got her strapped in. I walked over to her and I noticed her eyes were tightly closed. I tried to open her eyes and when I did, I couldn’t see her eyes anymore. They’re already way back in her head. I looked down and her stomach had now swollen three times its normal size. She wasn’t moving. For the first time in my life I didn’t know what to do. I walked outside and I sat down in the middle of the emergency room floor. Coming from a family of five boys, I can’t ever remember crying until that day. I couldn’t help it. Tears started rolling down my face. I was sitting there crying and I finally looked up and said; “God I know I haven’t been the kind of man you want me to be, but if you will please help my daughter I will do anything you want me to do. I will go anywhere you want me to go it doesn’t matter. Ten more minutes goes by finally two doctors walk out. One of them had a tear in his eye. He said; “Herman, Michelle has a broken back. She has probably internal bleeding. It’s going to be anywhere from six months to a year in a body cast before she thinks about walking. She might not ever walk again.” I was supposed to speak to my first school the next morning. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all. I go back to the hospital at six a.m. I was supposed to speak at eight. As I walk in her room the next morning, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. My little girl was up and walking around. She had the same smile on her face she always had. I will never forget that smile. I will never forget the promise I made to God. I said; “If you will help her, I will do anything, I will go anywhere.” He did his part. Now it’s my turn. I went to that school with a much different attitude. For me that day, the love of God went from here (points to head) and God put it here (points to heart). Since that day, I have spoken in thirty-three hundred schools to over 1.2 million kids. I always tell people, if I could have helped one, it’s been worth it all.

Herman - NFL role model living a double life.

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