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Brian Kinchen and the Snap Seen 'Round the World

CBN.com A SECOND CHANCE
In December 2003, Brian was in his seventh-grade Bible school classroom at Parkview Baptist Middle School when he got the call of a lifetime.  The New England Patriots were on their way to another Super Bowl and needed a long snapper.  A long snapper is the player who snaps the ball through his legs to the kicker.  The NFL employs 32 long snappers, one per team.  It is a vital position, because if the long snapper does his job well, he will play in front of millions without ever being noticed.  One critical mistake could mean the end of the long snapper’s career. 

Brian, then 38, considered the opportunity heavily.  Three years earlier, he was injured while playing for the Carolina Panthers, and after surgery, he was cut from the team.  Optimistic that other teams would call, Brian thought he would continue to play, but no one called.  So Brian began calling NFL teams to try out as their long snapper.  Three teams let him try out; all three rejected him. 

Forced to end his career, Brian couldn’t shake the idea that he was a failure.  He always measured his self-worth based on his performance on the football field.  Now Brian had the chance to play in the NFL again and prove himself worthy on the football field.  With the support from his wife, Lori, and his school, Brian temporarily left teaching to play for the Patriots through the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl. 

While he was away, Brian attended a weekly Bible study.  He missed his family tremendously; he also stayed in touch with his students through emails. “I became a teacher so I could influence the lives of young people,” says Brian.  After reading through a pile of cards and letters from the students, Brian felt encouragement and blessings from the kids.  When he was done reading, Brian reflected on this unexpected payoff of being a teacher.  He realized he never experienced any feeling of fulfillment like this from anything he had ever done in the world of sports. 

Then on January 14, 2004, Brian journaled his life purpose statement in the back of his Bible.  To continually seek God’s heart, and share Him with the world….loving and raising my children to have hearts for God and to be my living legacy in this world and the next.  (Brian commited his life to Christ at age 12.)

PLAY OF A LIFETIME
Excitement was building as the Patriots made their way through the playoffs.  The Patriots would play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.  Brian felt the pressure to throw accurate snaps but he was throwing inconsistent balls.  He realized the magnitude of the idea of costing his team a championship and looking like a failure in front of millions of people.  Feeling anxious before gameday, Brian prayed with his Bible study leader, Don Davis.  After practice, Brian reminded himself to have faith. 

The big game started out slow, but in the fourth quarter, Carolina scored a touchdown and tied the score with the extra point.  It was 29-29.  Brian’s heart raced on the sideline and he prayed that the Patriots would score a touchdown so the game would not come down to a field goal.  Quarterback Tom Brady moved the Patriots to the twenty-three yard line.  With nine seconds left, the Patriots called their final timeout.  The game would come down to a field goal.  Brian walked out on the field with holder Ken Walter and kicker Adam Vinatieri.  The team’s entire season was in Brian’s hands; his career was about to be forever defined.  Brian positioned himself over the ball.  Carolina called their final timeout.  The field goal team took the opportunity to reposition themselves in a better spot.  Ken signaled Brian that he was ready, then Brian unleashed a perfect snap!  Adam ripped through the ball with his right foot and the ball went straight through the goalposts. 

“I could not accomplish what I had to do without God,” says Brian.  “It was like He was just stripping me down….just to depend on Him, because I had no clue where that ball was going.”  After a few months, Brian realized that the Super Bowl ring he achieved simply provided a platform to reach others.  It was something he never really needed in the first place.

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