By Michele Yowler

       On October 22, 2000, Doug Pederson assumed the starting quarterback position for the Browns, following the season-ending injury, a broken right thumb, of rookie quarterback Tim Couch on October 19. Pederson did his best to rally the injure ravaged Browns. In addition to the multitude of injuries, this was a young and inexperienced team that went face to face with the best the NFL had to offer. Entering the 2000 regular season, 31 of the club's 53 players tallied 1 year or less experience in the NFL; with an average age of 25.5. Pederson, however, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with highlights of his career thus far including four years as a Green Bay Packer; claiming two superbowl games among his blessings.

       He began his relationship with Jesus as an eight-year-old attending a week of vacation bible school. His parents were teaching the classes. At the end of the week, young Pederson felt convicted that he needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

       Asked about God's influence in his life, Pederson said, "in my playing career I felt there were times that things were stacked against me and I didn't know why. Yet, I always felt that God was going to take care of me." He acknowledges that at times when life seemed difficult and everything was against him, he would question God and wonder why.

       Once such time was in 1995, when he was waived for the sixth and final time by Miami. He said, "I had just gotten released by the Miami Dolphins; I was back home and I was struggling with me, I was struggling with God, and I didn't understand why I had been released." At that time, he was down as an athlete and chose to recommit himself to God; telling Him, "God just handle this, if you want me to play, I'll play, if not I'll go and do something else, take all the distractions from me."

       Pederson said he relied completely on God during the three months that he was out of football. He spent a month working as a truck driver for Roadway Packaging (RPS). He believes it was during this season of his life that he became more humble and focused on what was really important. "Football didn't mean that much to me anymore; it was during that time we started our family." Having a family has helped Pederson put things into perspective and he understands what is more important to him. "There are things that are more important than football; football is just what I happen to do; I've learned that over the past six or seven years."

       God still had a hope and a future for Doug to continue his career as a NFL player. "After that time, God opened the door for me to go to Green Bay. I had four years up there; two super bowls, the whole deal." Since giving his life totally over to God he has seen his career go upward.

       When asked to elaborate on some of the lessons God brought him through during this time of recommitment, he said, "I felt like I had to do it myself. I wasn't allowing God to take me through a season. I felt like I was playing football because of what I had done; not because of what God had done. Even though I understood that he gave me the talent and the ability to play; I just felt it had to be me. People say that you can't take God on the football field, that you have to be tough; be something God isn't. That is the kind of attitude that I had; I've seen other players have it, other believers too, but it really brings you down. You're better off having God out there, because he can protect you and he will bring you through a tough situation."

       Then there is the distraction of peer pressure. Being an athlete, being in the spot light, people are always tugging on you wanting you to do so many things; things that take your time away from spending time in your bible, praying, and time with your family. So, I had to learn to prioritize."

       Pederson's favorite scripture is, "I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13. Asked why, he answered, "Because as a football player, as an athlete, as a parent, we need that strength every single day. We need God's strength, he is the only one who can see us through any situation, good or bad. And by relying on God and asking God to fill me with his strength, it has brought me through some tough times.