Interview with Todd Peterson, former NFL Kicker

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J. Todd Peterson was drafted in 1993 by the NY Giants, leading to a 13-year career in the NFL where he also played for Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco and Atlanta. He set a number of team records and two NFL records – one of which is since broken (most 40-plus-yard field goals in a season). He was named NFL True Value Man of the Year for the Seahawks in 1996 and twice received the NFL Players Association Byron “Whizzer” White award for excellence in character and leadership on his teams. He was twice nominated for the NFL’s Bart Starr Award. Peterson retired in 2006 as one of only 34 players to score over 1,000 points. He is the only player in NFL history to make game-winning field goals for five or more different teams. During his career he served three different terms on the NFLPA’s board.

Peterson lettered in football at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1988 and 1989 before transferring to the U. of Georgia. He graduated with a BBA in banking and finance in 1993 and was honored his senior season as the university’s first GTE Academic All-America in a decade.

The Petersons like to help families with influence and resources leverage those assets most effectively. They enjoy traveling with others to see missional opportunities and desire to see their peers experience the joy of giving.

Peterson also serves on several boards, including Global Generosity Movement, Passion Conferences, the Young Life Foundation, and as chairman for Pro Athletes Outreach. Peterson and his wife, Susan, live in North Atlanta and have two children.

For more information on Todd please see the link below.  

https://www.gospelpatrons.org/films/more-than-a-pro

I recently had a chance to sit down with Todd and catch up.  

What are you currently doing now? Can you please share about your previous NFL career?
I played in the NFL for thirteen years, starting in 1993 and retiring in 2006. I was a kicker. Most of my career was spent with the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Francisco 49ers. I was fortunate enough to be playing for the Falcons in my hometown, right before my retirement. I have been married for 25 years to my wife Susan, an incredible, godly woman and leader. We have two amazing children - my daughter is in her third year at Virginia, and our son is in his first year at Vernon.

Currently, I sit on a number of boards, both in the for-profit private and nonprofit company domain. I feel that Lord has blessed me with many opportunities during my career in the NFL. I got to meet some amazing people around the country and even around the world. Since my retirement, I felt an overwhelming calling to use the influences, resources, and relationships I gained during my career to build the kingdom through a variety of different ministries and business interests.

Did you know you were going to do this after you got out of the NFL? Can you please tell us about your faith journey?
I think that when we trust Christ, we experience salvation. Scripture says we are saved by grace through faith, not our merit, our performance, or our works. His work on the cross saves us. He says, believe this and I am going to invite you on a great adventure. Our faith in Christ invites us on a journey. When we start our walk with Christ, trust God, and begin to have the spirit of God lead us through life, it takes us on a journey. Spiritual maturity takes place over time through various experiences and circumstances. Relationships also help to shape us to be who we are today. Scripture is pretty clear that in life of a Christian, growth is normal. Philippians 1 says that God is faithful to complete the good works He starts in us, to the day of Christ returning, or if Jesus chooses to take us home before that. I think that I am in the process of sanctification. When I left the NFL, I thought that God may have some pretty cool stuff in store for me, but I don’t think I could have scripted it to be nearly as adventurous and amazing as He has allowed it to be. I think that God is always doing immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

How did you come to your faith?
It wasn’t as a young boy, but it was before my NFL career. It occurred over the several years as I finished high school and early into college. From when I was about seventeen, or eighteen years old, to about twenty, I think the Lord was allowing me to see how my empty my world was. When we put our stock, or our faith in things of this world, (relationships, money, success, athletics, academics, fame, connections, anything other than Christ), we feel void and empty. God saved me from a lot of heartache. I didn’t have to go down a path of a lot of horrifying stuff to realize my need for Him. But I did go down a path that led me to feel empty at the end of the day and on a path of worry and self concern, fear, insecurities, and peacelessness. I finally reached a place where, as 1 Corinthians 1 says, the folly or the foolishness of God is wiser than a man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than a man’s strength. It quickly became apparent to me that I would be a fool if I didn’t ask God for His folly in my life. When His folly is greater than my wisdom and His weakness greater than my strength, then I would be crazy to think I should use my wisdom and my strength to live. I am better off with His folly and his weakness. I realized that I needed Him and was desperate for Him; and that He loved me and invited me into a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. That is how I came to faith.

Can you talk about all the different ministries you are involved in, what drives you, and what you are hoping to accomplish through those ministries? My wife and I really sense that the unique opportunity the NFL presented was an Esther moment in our lives. God chooses times and places for us. So, at for that time in our lives, He had us in the NFL. My career in the NFL was clearly a “business” of making kicks. You get compensated well for playing pro sports. Wins and losses matter, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter as much as the eternal security of people. So, we saw the opportunity to invest in my teammates, to care for their families, and to be in relational ministry. Young Life is something we are very connected with, my wife is a trustee of Young Life, and we believe in relational ministry and caring for people. We have been cared for by God, and God says to imitate God. Therefore, we want to care for, love, and serve other people. I think that was the context of our NFL ministry. Most of that happens through our connection with Pro Athletes Outreach. We serve on that board, and I serve as the chairman.

The translation of The Bible has been a huge deal to us. We had the privilege of being introduced to Bible translation about 16-17 years ago and are now involved in ministries like Athletes in Action and The Seed Company. I am currently on the board of The Seed Company and have been serving as chairman for five years. From that came Illumination, which is an alliance between the ten leading Bible translation agencies. They are working together to eradicate bible poverty by 2033. The hope is that 100% of the world population will have access to the gospel and/or some portion of the scripture in their own language through the work of Illumination. More specifically, by 2033, 99.9996%, almost 100%, will have access to the New Testament in their own language and 95% of the world’s population will have access to the Bible in their own language. Scripture says that two things last forever, the word of God and the soul of man. We believe Bible translation is the collision and the intersection of those two things. We are really passionate about that.

For more information on this please see the following link:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/may/together-for-gospels-bible-translation-unity-illuminations.html

As expressed earlier, we have a passion for the work Young Life does, which is ministry to young people: middle school kids, high school kids, and college folks. Another thing we are really passionate about is stewardship, and the movement of biblical generosity that is occurring in the church today. This goes along with nurturing and caring for others. We think It is important for believers to be philanthropic realizing that God has entrusted us with more than we need. Stewardship should be done in a way that advances the kingdom and helps other people steward well with what He has given to them.

What are some effective tips for ministries to partner and to work together?
I think that the key to partnering together is having unity. We found this out at Illumination. They really do a good job spurring unity. We talk a lot about generosity, humility, and integrity, fostering unity and collaboration. God clearly commands us to be honest, transparent, and operate with integrity with one another. He hates lying. I think when people from different agencies are generous like God and humble like Christ, towards one another, it breeds and fosters unity, partnership, and collaboration. The enemy has many names, and a few of them are the confuser and deceiver. What he wants us to be self-interested, stingy and deceive each other, sneak around each other, and accuse each other. But what God wants is for us to be generous, humble, and honest. I think when brothers lean towards each other in generosity, humility, and integrity, the end result is unity in the body. Ephesians 4 says be diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit through a bond of peace. The world is constantly trying to find kinks in our armor, and the enemy is constantly trying to divide the church. But when we are united and work together, scripture says in Romans and 1 Corinthians, that the body of Christ has many complimentary parts, and when they are working together they create a very beautiful effect. We find that we see people move from darkness to light and be raised from death to life. God is pleased when brothers come together in unity.

Was there a team or teammate that influenced you?
It was the guys that were older and more mature than me. They were mentors to me and discipled me, like Mike Singletary, Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, and Eugene Robinson. I think the guys that were my contemporaries were Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, Brian Young, Scott Gragg, and Grant Williams. A lot of guys I played with became dear friends. We ran together and were brothers. We are committed to the same things and on the board of PAO (Pro Athletes Outreach). There is a biblical model of discipleship. If we don’t have guys in leading us, guys with us, and guys following us, then we aren’t really living the way God created us to live. Mike Cannon and Andy Lee were young punters that were coming into the league when I was retiring, and went on to have pro-ball careers. I think that I gave to them what a lot of guys had given to me.

Seattle was a unique team to play for, because PAO was headquartered in Seattle for about 25 years. There was a real concerted effort by a church up there, Antioch Bible Church, to invest in us players. The pastor of Antioch Bible Church,Kent Hutcherson, who was a former player and Karl Payne, the chaplain for about twenty years of the Seahawks, along with PAO, invested in many of us on the team. A lot of those guys that played in Seattle, went on to play at a lot of different places in the NFL, and I really believe, shined brightly for Christ.