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Fitzhugh delivers his message to FCA

October 29, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

At the pinnacle of his athletic career, Steve Fitzhugh played in the NFL for the Denver Broncos and went to Super Bowl XXII.

But by his estimates, he reached those heights because he joined the only real winning team early in life -- the one that plays for the glory of God.

Fitzhugh, an NFL player-turned-motivational speaker, spoke of turmoil and challenges in his early life that all changed when "someone introduced me to God" and compared those challenges to those kids face today in a powerful and emotional speech before 250 people on Tuesday at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet at Fountain Head Country Club.

"I know what the NFL stands for ... Not For Long," Fitzhugh joked. "Now I'm a speaker."

And with that ability, he conveyed a well calculated and well conceived message, laced with humor that all ages could identify with, along with some strong points delivered in almost evangelistic fashion.

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"We are in dangerous times and students are facing dangerous decisions," he said. "I see what is happening at schools and what is happening to our young people, state in and state out. The FCA makes a difference."

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a non-profit organization which encourages coaches and athletes to compete, win and live through Christian values and beliefs.

For Fitzhugh, that early introduction to God was the pivotal time in his life.

"I am not ashamed to say that Jesus is my hero and my big brother," said the 45-year-old former star of Miami (Ohio). "I didn't have to look further than my front door to see the problems of the world."

Fitzhugh spoke of growing up in first an abusive -- then broken -- home where his father used him as a shield when his beaten mother drew a gun. He spoke of his mother -- "She was my biggest fan" -- and all she poured into his life before a long life of smoking took her away with six brain tumors.

And he spoke of his brother Raymond, who was a star high school athlete with a strong future before he allowed drugs and alcohol to cut his life short, seven months after his mother.

"He never played football again after high school," Fitzhugh said. "He smoked so much crack, his brain stem exploded."

That all navigated Fitzhugh away from similar life choices.

"I was told that God has a plan for me," he said. "I said, 'Sign me up.'"

Fitzhugh addressed the large contingent of students at the banquet and used the FCA's initials to convey the rules to help avoid the tough situations ahead. It is a matter of using Faith, Commitment and Accountability when it comes to dealing with situations of sex, alcohol and drugs.

"Young people are so impressionable. Let's impress them with the Bible," he said. "Because someone introduced me to God, I didn't get caught up in things that happened in my family. The times have changed and the stakes are so much higher now."

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