Most boys dream of making it to the NFL; few taste the reality. Those who do make it into the NFL will do anything they can to hold on to their glorious position, right? For one of the best centers in the league, the answer was a resounding no.
Jason Brown had made it to the NFL, had a $37 million contract and a bright career ahead of him. But he found his lavish lifestyle, mansion and athletic status stale. When he was released from his contract with the St. Louis Rams, he could have gone to any other team or easily continued with his career. That’s certainly what his agent wanted him to do.
Instead, in 2012 he decided to launch into an entirely new profession, one in which he had no experience whatsoever: farming.
In an interview with CBS, Brown said, “My agent told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,’ and I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No, I’m not. No, I’m not.’”
Brown not only wanted to give up a life playing football, he also planned to give away his first fruits of every season to food pantries. He relocated to his home state of North Carolina, bought 1,000 acres of land and learned to farm by watching YouTube videos.
Appropriately, Brown named his land First Fruits Farm and devoted his life to serving God and helping others.
“When I think of a life of greatness, I think of a life of service,” Brown told CBS.
In 2014, the farm blossomed into fruition. Workers harvested and gave away over 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to food pantries thanks to help from the Society of St. Andrew, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. More than 600 volunteers helped in the effort.
Brown also partnered with the graduate students of North Carolina State University to conduct research on the property. In addition, First Fruits Farm hosts community events featuring hayrides, fishing, food and music.
So, was it worth it?
For this ex-NFL player, the answer is absolutely.
“This is the most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life,” Brown told the News and Observer. “And it’s living a life with purpose.”