(Photo courtesy of WVU Athletics)
The choice to leave the Eagles damaged my chances at signing with another NFL team. That was the first impression of me, and what teams saw was a quitter. After that one day, no other team thought I was worth a second shot.
God is the complete opposite.
No matter how many times I messed up, God doesn't see me as a mistake. He just sees me as Noel, a child of God.
I understand that, even if NFL teams don't.
So my journey took me to the Canadian Football League, the CFL, where I played for the Edmonton Eskimos and the Montreal Alouettes. If you thought West Virginia was different than Fort Myers, you should try playing in 20 degree weather in a French-speaking city!
I was playing in a completely different country, but now that I was healthy again I was back to my old self. I ran a 4.25 40-yard dash...that would have put me with Titans legend Chris Johnson as the fastest player to ever play this game. It still wasn't enough to earn the trust of NFL teams, so I decided to go out and try to dominate in Canada.
Then on my first play - literally, on the special teams play before we even had a down - I got hurt. Football has now taken me all over the place. I played in the Flag Football League that Chad Johnson helped start. I played in The Spring League for guys trying to make it back in the NFL. I now play in the Arena League with the West Virginia Rough Riders. It’s cool to be back here, but I know it’s not the NFL.
I've also been doing some speed training lessons for clients, and I'm looking into becoming a coach some day. I'm not quitting on my NFL dream, I just know that some day I will have to start chasing a new dream.
I will say this too: through all the moving, from one job to another and one state to another, Candace and my kids have been supportive of me from Day 1. No matter where we lived or what team I played for, we always had the mindset as a family that we are going to make it work.
When I heard about that Jeremiah 29:11 verse, it talks about prospering, and even though football didn't make me a millionaire, I would still say the verse is true. My relationship with my family and with God is as strong as it's ever been, and if that isn't prospering, then I don't know what is. What’s even better is watching my own kids succeed at sports. It doesn’t matter which sport they play, it’s just great watching them follow in my footsteps.
I’m still enjoying myself and taking things one day at a time. I’m looking forward to seeing all you West Virginia fans at my arena games, and hopefully I can still make it to the NFL. Just know that through all the trials and tribulations, my faith in God - and His plan for me - will always be there. My future with football has no guarantees, and I can’t promise I’ll ever play in the NFL, but what I can say one thing with certainty...I’m staying on God’s path -.wherever it takes me.
And for the the time being, that path is apparently on some Country Roads.
Take Me Home.
Noel Devine, # 7