HOUSTON (BP) -- When Bradie James steps onto the field for the Houston Texans' playoff matchup with New England on Sunday, plenty of his teammates and opponents will be playing for themselves.
James knows, because he used to be one of them.
"Playing football, everything is all about who becomes a champion," James said. "In my game sometimes, it's all about who has the biggest ego, who has the biggest car or the house and this and that. I was living a worldly life. I was living for myself."
A starting linebacker for the Texans, James eventually came to a crisis of faith as he began to question why he played football. He started going to church and trying to understand where he placed his faith. He picked up a Bible and started reading.
James shares his testimony in a video on the "I am Second" website. "I am Second" is a movement that tells the stories of actors, athletes, musicians, business leaders and others who have seen the Lord transform their lives.
The Bible verse that changed James' life was Romans 12:2.
"I'll never forget it," James said in the video. "That verse said, 'Do not conform to the things of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' For some reason, something clicked. I have to renew my mind. If I renew my mind, then my actions will definitely follow.
"God has given me this talent, and if I do my best, and if He receives all the glory, that's really what it's about."
James said his decision to follow Christ caused him to lose some friends when they started noticing that he wasn't doing the things he used to do. But his conversion also has given him many opportunities to talk to teammates about the Lord.
"I've had a lot of guys ask me what's going on with me," James said. "I like it when they ask me that because it's my chance to disciple or tell them the Good News. I give them food for thought and then help bring them back to their spirituality."
Rather than playing for selfish reasons and trying to measure up to someone else's expectations -- which James acknowledged he'd never meet -- James said he now plays for a bigger purpose and for God's approval, no matter whether he wins or loses.
"We all have a story and we all have a platform," he said. "It's funny how God can take what we think is a mess and turn it into a message."
Tim Ellsworth is editor of BP Sports
and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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). Watch Bradie James' "I am Second" video at Bradie James].