During his career, former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck heard many preach the priorities of faith, family and football, but their actions sometimes sent a different message.
His former teammate, quarterback Jake Locker, who abruptly retired from the NFL after the 2014 season, is one who truly understands those values, Hasselbeck said in a recent Sports Illustrated article.
"Every coach I ever played for says these are the priorities: faith, family, football. But no one really lives that way. No one," Hasselbeck told Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop. "Jake didn’t retire. He put family and faith first. This is the way I judge people now: If you don’t like Jake Locker, I don’t think I can like you."
Since his departure with little explanation, media and fans have wondered what happened to Locker? Bishop's article explores why Locker quit the game — only four years after he was the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL draft — and what he's doing now. It had everything to do with his Christian faith and family.
"Sure, he loved football," Bishop wrote. "But he loved his family and Jesus more."
Bishop reviews Locker's journey from high school to college at the University of Washington, where fans lauded him as deity with unrealistic expectations. Locker coped with the pressure by drinking and partying.
After Locker was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, his teammate Hasselbeck, a veteran quarterback of the league, became a friend and mentor.
"With a nudge from his mentor, Locker started to explore his relationship with Jesus," Bishop wrote. "Hasselbeck could sense Locker’s angst over his hero status, and he told the rookie that trusting in Jesus could help him cope. Locker still drank at that point, but not as heavily as in college. Alcohol wasn’t his problem; it was a symptom of his problem, how he masked his problem."10 comments on this story
Hasselbeck later invited Locker and his wife to attend a Pro Athletes Outreach conference in Orlando, where the quarterback realized his need to rank his faith and family above all else. During the conference, Locker and his wife were baptized. He began to seriously consider walking away from the game.
"He started to pray daily, mostly about his future," Bishop wrote. "And the more he prayed, the less significant the game seemed compared to his family and his relationship with Jesus."
Today, Locker lives a quiet life with his wife and children on a farm. He works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, helps coach the quarterbacks on the local high school team, enjoys hunting and family time.
Read the entire story by going to SI.com.