rebelling against low expectations

Drafted: Why Chris Norman Said No to the NFL


(Desiring God) — I invite you to watch this moving 11-minute story of Michigan State linebacker Chris Norman.

Desiring God commissioned the video because God is at the center of the story, and because at one key point, God used Don’t Waste Your Life as part of his surprising plan for Chris’s life. Special thanks to hip-hop artists Flame and Shai Linne for their contributions to the soundtrack, and to Michigan State University and ESPN for the game footage.

Why would a promising All-American turn from options in the NFL toward theological education and the pastoral ministry? The decisive reason came in 2011 at a Christian camp for athletes. He saw something different: People enjoying Jesus.

I didn’t know that Jesus could be enjoyed. So once I figured that out — it was the night of May 24, 2011 — Christ got a hold of my life, captivated my heart, and changed me from the inside out.

As it has happened for many of us, this love for Christ became, in Chris’s life, a specific call to ministry. About a week after his final game he decided to go to seminary. It is a remarkable story brimming with lessons for life. Lessons like . . .

  • First loves in life, no matter how good, and how intense, may not prove to be last loves.
  • Joy in Jesus is captivating.
  • At key points in our lives direction from God will be followed by opposition and obstacles.
  • Surprising, unexpected help comes along the path of obedience.
  • Drop your pebbles of Christ-exalting truth in every pond you can. You have no idea where the ripples might go. This surely has been the story of my life. Share the gospel. Preach a sermon. Give a devotional. Write a book. For example, Don’t Waste Your Life. And seven years later it falls into the hands of a Michigan State linebacker.
  • Now Chris has dropped his pebble into this video. Where will the ripples go? When you watch, you will become part of that story. And it will become part of yours.

Would you help us share Chris’s story with more and more athletes and sports fans? It will begin with your friends, family, classmates, and co-workers. You can send them to

Check out Chris Norman’s article, Why I Said No to the NFL, where he explains his decision and answers questions raised by the video.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

John Piper

wrote this article for and is not affiliated with John is the founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

Do Hard Things Community
By John Piper
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →