It Takes Commitment

NFL coach Jerry Palmieri’s challenge for you

By Jerry Palmieri, interview by Athletes in Action   |  23.May.2013
Jerry Palmieri
Photo courtesy Athletes in Action

Jerry Palmieri is the third coach from the right

I’m a strength coach for the New York Giants; I’ve been in the NFL for 18 years.

I went to church every Sunday. I threw some coins in the basket and prayed every night before I went to bed—especially if I needed His help. Then, my sister invited me to her church. The pastor asked us to bow our heads and close our eyes. And he said, “If you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He died for your sins, raise your hand.”

I’m a good church kid; of course I believe that, so I raised my hand. Well, I was the only joker who raised my hand that night. The next thing I know, he called me up front. In front of all these people. And he starts talking with me about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I thought, Whoa, wait a second. You asked me question. I raised my hand. I don’t know anything about this personal relationship stuff.

Then, it became obvious to him; I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing.

But he handed me one of those modern English version Bibles. He showed me how to read it and took me to the New Testament and I took it home that night and beside my bed I began reading. And I did so every night for the next 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks of reading that Bible beside my bed, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Accepting Christ as my Savior was just the beginning of my spiritual journey.

I consider it a privilege to be a coach in the NFL. Actually, I consider it a privilege to be any kind of coach. I really feel like God called me into this profession. Physical education was my major and I was always into fitness and exercise, but to be able to get into strength and conditioning and to be able to coach talented athletes and help them reach their full potential is a dream come true.

I’d like to think my life is the Bible and I am an example of who Christ is. I love my athletes and I care for them and I challenge them. When you love people you have to challenge them and push them. You have to hold them to discipline, but I strive to care for them to get better and reach their fullest potential.

And in the process, they begin to understand who I am and what my values are.

Just as they go through life, I have found they will come to me. They will ask me to pray for them. They will share their heart with me. It is then, I can share who Jesus is in my life.

Everybody thinks they have everything and everything is cool. Well, everything is not always cool in their life. They have a lot of money, and they have the material things, but sometimes there is no peace. Sometimes there is a struggle of family members wanting things from them and always calling upon them. There’s issues with, am I going to lose my job? Am I going to get cut? There are issues with getting hurt and looked poorly upon by the coaching staff and you don’t want to get back on the field. There are all these things and the pressure to go on.

To be an NFL athlete—to be any kind of athlete—it takes a great deal of commitment. And if you want to be on God’s team and live your life for Him, it takes commitment as well. So as I was challenged as a young believer, many, many, years ago, I challenge you: get into the Word of God, spend time in prayer, spend time in fellowship and do it on a regular basis--be committed to it. You will be amazed by how God continues to work in your life.

Would You Like to Know God Personally?

Watch Jerry’s interview.