June 26, 2013
(Garden City Telegram) After a successful and high profile career as a record-setting place kicker, Jason Elam has found the post-pro football life to his liking.
Family man, author, pilot, and ministries sum up part of Elam’s life, keeping him busy since he left the NFL in 2010.
Elam, former kicker for the Denver Broncos from 1993 to 2007, signed autographs Thursday night at Menard’s as part of the store’s grand opening.
Judging by the long line, the two-time Super Bowl champ made an impact with people in this part of the state in his playing days.
Elam is the only player to have 15 consecutive seasons of 100 or more points, he was the first kicker to convert 300 field goals, and he was the fastest player to reach 1,600 and 1,700 points.
In addition to two Super Bowl titles, he was also a three-time pro-bowler.
Now living in Alaska, Elam has stayed busy as a husband and father of five, and soon to be adding on.
“I have one on the way. We just found out we’re going to have our sixth,” he said. “I love being a dad, and I love being a husband.”
He is also doing a ministry in Alaska that is tied in to the Middle East.
It’s life after football, and it’s worked for him.
“A lot of guys struggle. You’ve heard all the statistics coming out of the NFL. A lot of it boils down to identity. That was their identity for so long, and now they struggle. I think I was able to keep a perspective that football is something that I did; it wasn’t who I was,” he said.
Elam said he always figured life was going to be better after his football days, and football was “awesome. I’m living a blessed life so far,” he said.
Elam has co-authored four fiction sports books, the Riley Covington series, which he started while he was still playing. The title character plays linebacker in the NFL, and he’s served a tour of duty in Afghanistan and is a Christian.
“My older brother’s in the military — a full colonel in the National Guard — and he loved hearing all the stories on team flights, on the sidelines, things that happened in the locker room. He said, ‘Jason, you need to write a book. People like to hear about all those things,'” Elam said.
He was reluctant to do so, he said, because he lived it all the time. However, on a team flight, Elam said he got the idea that if he could combine some of the current events that were happening, tie them to those football stories and combine his Christian faith, he might have something.
“I wrote up this synopsis, thought about it for a while and ran it by my wife and a few friends. Everyone liked the idea,” he said.
Without previous experience, Elam said, he wrote a few chapters and sent it off to a literary agent, who liked it. Elam then enlisted a friend, Steve Yohn, who ended up as a co-author.
“Before we knew it, we had a book and sent it off to a bunch of publishers,” Elam said.
Eventually, the publishers wanted a two-book deal, which turned into four books.
“It was fun. I had a great time doing it. And I was able to combine all those things,” he said. “I had some really good feedback.”
Elam has channeled his Christian faith into a ministry that takes him to the Middle East.
“I really have a heart for the Middle East. I started going over there back in the ’90s. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m the director of Israel for a ministry called e3 Partners,” he said.
The group, which can be found at e3partners.org, works closely with Messianic Jewish pastors, Arab-Israeli pastors, and Palestinian pastors.
The Midwest has been good for Elam, who was born in Florida, was reared in Atlanta and attended college in Hawaii.
Since he spent most of his career as a Bronco, Elam said he has a special spot in his heart for Denver and its fans.
“I had a chance to play in every (NFL) city, and I just love the Denver fans and the Denver organization,” he said. “I loved everything about Denver. The people were always so great to me. I felt like I always had a really great relationship with the fans. They were so die-hard, almost everywhere you went, people knew who you were and welcomed you. It was awesome. Still, now, when I go back to Denver, they’re so welcoming and hospitable.”
He remembers his days as a Bronco fondly.
“Those were fun, fun years. They were really special. Getting to play with guys like John Elway and Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman, all these Hall of Fame guys — I just felt very, very blessed to have those guys as my teammates,” he said.
Even for a kicker, his lengthy stay in the NFL was amazing, Elam said.
“I never thought it was going to last 17 years. I thought I’d get in and just try to get vested, maybe get four or five years in and get a pension,” he said.
His love of competition has transferred to his children.
“They all love sports. My oldest is 16 now, and he’s really into soccer. Anything having to do with sports, my kids are all over it,” he said.
The 43-year-old loved the teamwork and competition of being a pro. He also liked the camaraderie and environment.
But it’s a life that’s part of history now, he said.
“I got it all out of my system, though. You know, 17 years of stress every Sunday, I’m glad it’s over now. With the NFL, every game comes down to three points or less. So if you miss a field goal…,” Elam said, the implication obvious.
But he had a dream and he got to live it, in a position that comes naturally with pressure.
“You might be sitting on the bench for two or three hours and then get told ‘Go win the game,'” he said. “But that’s OK. That’s part of the game. It’s what dreams are made of right there.”