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The 700 Club

An Unexpected Journey of Football and Faith

Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do Immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us. To Him be the glory in Christ Jesus. Forever.”

Immeasurably more has elaborately carried Ben Malcolmson from college student reporter to the Seattle Seahawks front office where his formal job title is specifically unique! Ben explains, “Special Assistant to Pete Carroll, Director of External Relations. My daily job with Coach Carroll, it’s kind of Swiss army knife. It’s kind of all over the place. Helping him prepare for meetings, for practices, for games. Video stuff, media stuff, everything in between, hosting guests! Being a sounding board for him! I’m so fortunate in my job! I get to be around some incredible people, obviously, our football players, our coaches, especially working for someone like Coach Carroll who’s so full of energy.”   

“He’s really been my partner in putting together this presentation of this scheme, the principles and the approaches that I give even as we extend the message beyond the team”, says Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll. “That very next turn you make in the road may be something special. And if you want to live a life of wonder - you can! And certainly hope people will get that sense from Ben’s book and it’s a great story and I think it’s a great illustration of how things can surprise you in life. But you’ve got to be receptive to that fact that that can happen.”   

Question: “You are a trained journalist, now an author. Sitting in a room like this, a press room for a football team, how would you write your story?”

Ben Malcolmson: “Oh man! I would love if the title just pointed towards the amazing wonders of God and just the way that He writes incredible stories through each one of our lives, whether it gets a lot of attention or not!” 

Question: “Summarize your USC experience.”

Ben Malcolmson: “Wild and unexpected!  My USC experience went from a journalism major to unexpectedly making the football team and my life took a turn from there.” 

Question: “The USC Rudy?!”

Ben Malcolmson: “Some people have said that, yeah. I was writing for the school newspaper, The Daily Trojan and thought of an idea, I need to write a story about the walk-ons on the team. Well, what if I go through the try-out myself? It was an open try-out for any student at USC. So it was going to be a total joke. I mean, I was a newspaper reporter and I hadn't played football since 5th grade. I was undersized, I had no football pedigree and there I was trying out.” 

Question: “So you filled the 30-inch column, but you found out you got more?”

Ben Malcolmson: “Yeah, it was a gold mine of a story and got a phone call the day after the try-out saying I made the football team. At first I thought it was a prank. And there I was, getting a playbook, I was getting checked in with my equipment. And a couple of days later I was out practicing with the top-ranked football team in the country.” 

Question: “Then all of a sudden injury comes.”

Ben Malcolmson: “Yeah, I was out blocking on a play in practice one day and I get my arm caught in a cornerback’s pad. He rolls over me and I dislocate my shoulder and I’m out for 9 months after the season was over. But for some reason I felt this nudge that I needed to rehab and get back as fast as I possibly could! Through a lot of amazing support, people praying, I was back in 4 ½ months! And the doctors were like, we’ve never done this before, but you’re cleared to go back to the football field.” 

Question: “And then the campaign on campus starts.”

Ben Malcolmson:  “A bunch of students saw themselves in me. You know, I was just the average, the average student. And so they started a campaign, “Get Ben In”! And they wanted to see me get a play in a game. They were chanting in the student section, they made T-shirts, they made signs and it kind of became the rally cry for the student body.”     

Question: “You work your way into the game, final home game of the season against Rudy’s Notre Dame!”

Ben Malcolmson: “Running out of the tunnel, 90,000 fans! This is crazy! The quarterback calls the play - ‘I ride victory on one’. There I am standing there on the line, lined up as a wide receiver. And the funny thing is, is that we had never practiced that play, it’s not even in the playbook because it’s just the quarterback kneel! Thankfully I figured it out.  I mean it was so surreal. It was such a sense of awe. That wow - God is truly amazing!” 

Question: “What carried you through the while process?”

Ben Malcolmson: “Well I had this overwhelming sense that God was with me in it, just encouraging me along that I did have a purpose there and I needed to find it. Tried to start a Bible study - that failed. I tried to start a prayer group - that failed! It was very discouraging, very disheartening. But I knew deep down in my soul that God had me there for a reason far greater than just playing football. Then I got an idea. I placed a Bible in everyone’s locker on Christmas Eve and we get back right before the Rose Bowl on January 1st and I couldn’t wait to get in there that day because this was why God had me on the team. And I walk into the locker room and I see Bibles just shredded, pages ripped out, thrown all over the floor. You could barely even see the carpet. The trashcan was half full of Bibles. I mean I was devastated. I had poured my heat and soul into trying to find my purpose, have an impact for God - and it had failed once again.”

Less than two weeks later, on January 6, 2007 USC placekicker Mario Danelo was found dead at the bottom of a cliff, near his home.  

Question: “Tell me who Mario was, what he was to you.”

Ben Malcolmson: “Mario Danelo was our kicker on the team. He was the fun-loving, enjoyable guy.  He was one of my closest friends! He had mysteriously passed away a couple days after the Rose Bowl. It was absolutely heartbreaking. We go the funeral together as a team and at the top of his casket was a Bible I had placed in his locker. Same little red note sticking out of it saying - ‘the greatest gift you’ll ever receive: the gift of Jesus Christ’. It helped me get through that grieving process. So then fast forward a few years and I move up to Seattle to work for Coach Carroll at the Seahawks. And I reconnect with a former teammate of mine a USC. His name was Taylor. He was a punter on the team. He tells me his life had totally turned around the previous couple years. ‘What happened?’ He’s like do you remember the last week we were on the team together there were Bibles in all our lockers? He saw Mario thumbing through the Bible. He can’t get enough! Taylor for some reason goes back and sits down next to Mario and shares the words in red are the words of Jesus, the Son of God, Savior of the World, came to die to make you right with God. And He started a relationship with God. And then a few days later he obviously passes away. For Taylor, he saw God working and orchestrating in his life and in Mario’s life just in the days before Mario passes away. So Taylor right on the spot recommits his life to Christ. The Bibles in the locker? And I thought it was a total failure! But He was there! And He was rescuing, He was saving Mario just before He passed away! And then He turned Taylor’s life around too! It was just unbelievable!”  

Question: “What did you discover between tending to the next task and being ambushed by something extraordinary?”

Ben Malcolmson: “I think that’s the eternal question: holding the sense of wonder and amazement at what God desires to do. And the beautiful thing is it doesn’t take striving, it takes surrendering, it takes releasing, that wow, God you do have control of my life! And I need to just let Him write it. I don’t need to take the pen from Him. I need to continue to give Him the pen to write that amazing story in my life and in the lives of the people around me. He has become the King of my life and He leads me! Because the things of this world they fade away, they don’t satisfy, like a relationship, a true living relationship with Jesus does!”

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