As a Christian, one of the exciting aspects of the NFL in recent years has been the inclusion of several vocal Christians who are not afraid to share their faith. The Super Bowl played earlier this year saw quarterbacks Nick Foles and Carson Wentz included among that description and many Christians enjoyed watching how the two navigated such intense pressure combined with personal trials not only for personal triumphs but pointing to our Lord in the process. Missing the Super Bowl by just one win (a game the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles that would have sent them to the Super Bowl instead) is another vocal Christian, Case Keenum.
Case Keenum has been part of the NFL for many years, but those following it were especially intrigued when he was suddenly elevated to the primary position of the Minnesota Vikings after the surprising injury of Teddy Bridgewater. Fans were even more intrigued when the Minnesota Vikings embarked on an unexpectedly good year with Keenum at quarterback. His journey to that position has not followed the normal paths and so with the help of Andrew Perloff, Keenum utilized the offseason to share his story in Playing for More, published by B&H Publishing Group.
Playing for More is nothing more than an autobiography and should be read as such. Therefore, readers should not move forward reading Case Keenum’s life story with the expectation that he or she is going to learn great spiritual truths or that this book is the solution to one’s motivational problems. Keenum simply writes to share about his own journey while emphasizing God’s faithfulness in that journey. The bulk of the book focuses on his career as an NFL football player with only limited discussion about his upbringing and childhood. Even the initial chapters and limited information devoted to Keenum’s childhood through college years generally focus on the football aspect of his life.
As believers, readers should appreciate Case Keenum’s priorities. In January 2018. the Minnesota Vikings face the New Orleans Saints in the divisional playoffs and pulled off the win in the final seconds. Keenum, of course, relives this moment in his memoir and shares his response to reporters when asked if this was the best moment of his life. For him, it was the third best, after giving his life to Christ and marrying his wife. This order of priorities is reflected throughout the entire book. Football is what he does for a living, but his faith and his family occupy the most important aspects of his personal life and he continuously points to them, their influence, and their roles in his personal life.
Admittedly, I would have preferred if he would Keenum would have been more direct about God’s influence in his life. From past interviews and discussions, it is clear that Keenum not only believes but gives priority to God for the course his life has taken. However, in this particular book, sometimes his references to God appear as an afterthought in which he inserted some quick Bible references or thoughts about God only after the rest of the passage was written. Additionally, Keenum uses Scripture more casually than I am comfortable with. At times he will cite Scripture in an effort to point to God, his faithfulness, and his care, but he misapplies Scripture especially the Old Testament passages that he adopts for himself but are written for Israel. Truthfully, he is simply following the model of what many people do these days. It is important to note that his theology is not necessarily false, but there is great danger in doing this because when context is not considered and one holds on to promises that are meant for Israel, then he or she is simply adopting part of the Bible that are likable and denying others without an understanding of why.
Playing for More is a fascinating story that indicates Case Keenum’s uncommon journey into the NFL. He closes out the book well with a fixation on Christ’s work. If one desires to know more about Keenum or wants an easy-to-read story, this might be a fascinating book. However, if looking for a deep book or even a biography that stimulates an intense love for God (such as many of the old missionary biographies) this is not the book to read. It comes down to one’s priorities and preferences.
Note: Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles also published a book in the offseason. Thus, if you are interested in these types of books it may be of value to you. I have not read it and therefore cannot give a recommendation, comment, or overview of it.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of the book.