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NFL Combine: have you been training?

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Ohio State Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby runs the 40 yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, Houston, Texas (Credit: USA TODAY Sports/Brian Spurlock)

This past Tuesday marked the beginning of this year’s NFL Combine. 323 players were scheduled to attend the weeklong event being held at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.  There, each player will have his medical history, character, football intellect, and athletic ability closely dissected by the 32 teams looking to help them become professionals in the sport they love. However, attendance is no guarantee of future success. Last year, of the 335 prospects invited, only 224 were drafted. The other 111 NFL hopefuls were left to try and find a roster spot after the last pick was announced.

Moreover, while each athlete is given the chance to greatly improve his status as a prospect over the course of his time at the Combine, many will inevitably do more harm than good to their draft stock. While some will fail drug tests, come in overweight, or perform poorly in the athletic drills, little can have as damaging an effect on one’s place in a team’s draft plans as a poor interview. Many teams will even take some players off their board, removing them from consideration for their picks, because of what is either discovered or confirmed in this setting. Before arriving in Indianapolis, each team submits a list of players with whom they would like to meet. They are then given 15 minutes to talk and ask a variety of questions ranging from scheme to personal history.

For players like Florida State QB Jameis Winston, projected by some to be the first player drafted this year, the interview process will be especially important. He has all the physical traits necessary to be a successful NFL quarterback and even won the Heisman trophy in 2013. However, rape allegations dating back to his freshman season (the case was eventually dropped amid allegations of police impropriety) as well as relatively less important, though still discouraging, incidents such as shoplifting and shouting vulgar comments in the FSU Student Center have raised red flags concerning his character. He will need to use his 15 minutes to convince teams that he has learned from his troubled past and matured if he hopes to maintain his lofty draft status. A tall task to be sure.

While we may not have an interview with that level of material importance today, each of us is likely to encounter conversations of great eternal significance. Whether it is a chance to share the gospel with a coworker, establish a connection with a new friend, or even to seek forgiveness for a past mistake, God gives every one of us opportunities to share the truth of his gospel message with those around us. Are you prepared for that moment when it arrives?

In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle who was never shy when it came to voicing his opinion calls us to always be ready not just to speak for Christ but to do so with a clear explanation of the hope that we have found in him. When was the last time you thought about what you will say when that chance comes? Today may be the day that God wants to use your testimony to change someone’s outlook on eternity. Reflect on God’s goodness, pray for wisdom and discernment, and always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you. That is God’s call for each of us today. How will you respond?