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Seahawk's faith helps him through times of insecurity
Football is a snap to Clint Gresham. Overcoming doubt takes time.
Blessed with the gift of handling a specialized job in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks’ long snapper admits he struggled with some uncertainties early on in his career. That was until he found peace and solidified his faith.
Gresham, a Christian leader and Super Bowl XLVIII champion, follows Xs and Os during the season, but his preferred playbook is the Bible.
“I struggled with a lot of insecurity as a young person, and I really carried that into my walk with God,” Gresham told the audience at Calvary Chapel South in Kent last Saturday night. “I brought this insecurity and this lack of understanding of who I was in Christ into my relationship with God but into my career on the football field. Because I had this insecurity and this doubt, I struggled with the fear of man.
“(But) if you believe about yourself (the way) Jesus believes about you, you will be unstoppable in every single area of your life,” he said. “Jesus thinks awesome things about you. That’s just the truth, man.”
Gresham said his renewed commitment to Christ has brought better, brighter days. He brings that passionate message home to others in his travels as an inspirational speaker.
Kent was the latest stop, an opportunity for Gresham to tell his story, “The Making of a Champion,” replete with oratory, amusing anecdotes and a short film starring teammates and coaches.
A gentle giant, the 27-year-old Gresham performs ministry during the offseason, including summer camps for kids. He lives on Mercer Island, where he shares his home with five other leaders of Young Life, an outreach ministry that serves youth.
During the season, Gresham leads the Seahawks Bible study groups.
Speaking engagements are just an extension of Gresham’s faith-filled calling, a belief deeply rooted with family in Texas.
Given his size and temperament, athletics, notably football, came naturally to Gresham.
The New Orleans Saints took a chance, signing the un-drafted free agent out of Texas Christian University in 2010. But the Saints soon waived him, and the Seahawks, well, snapped him up.
Gresham handles an anonymous but critical job – repeatedly making accurate snaps to the punter positioned 15 yards back from the line of scrimmage. He also triggers the ball back to the placeholder on critical field goals and extra-point conversions.
It’s a repetitious role that has little room for error.
Gresham typically makes an average of eight snaps a game, but practices the motion throughout the game along the sideline.
All told, Gresham estimates he takes about 200 snaps on game day.
At first, the job came with some occupational hazards. The long snapper was prone to punishment as soon as he released the snap on kicks.
“My first year, I got clobbered every single game because I was so vulnerable. I’m already the smallest guy on the line,” said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Gresham, who often struggles to maintain his weight. “When I get down, I have my head between my legs and I’m trying to make sure that I get the ball back in the right spot. And, as soon as I moved the ball, I’ve got this 390-pound dude just undercutting me.”
But new rules today protect the center on kicks.
“You can’t do that anymore. Praise the Lord,” a grinning Gresham said of the immediate blows he absorbed on kicks.
Gresham hopes to hold onto his job for as long as he can. Efficient long snappers are hard to find, and when they blossom and stay healthy, they usually stick around the NFL for many years. Just ask Trey Junkin, who played 19 seasons in the NFL with six different teams, including the Seahawks.
Gresham said he is comfortable with his life, his career and his faith. It’s also great to be a part of a wonderful group of teammates who accomplished something special last season.
“The idea of winning a Super Bowl is so crazy,” Gresham said. “To think that we were the first to actually do that in Seahawks history is pretty amazing. It’s so cool.”