Higher Calling

Plenty of athletes crave media attention whether it's a high school recruit or an NFL star who makes good or bad choices in life. Glen Coffee is one former NFL running back who surprised many when he abruptly retired from the league after one season. He is not calling for any media attention. Coffee has made a very easy, peaceful decision to serve the Lord.


Glen Coffee was the second back behind Frank Gore for the San Francisco 49ers, but churning yards was no longer a goal for the former Alabama star.

Coffee made his college choice in December of 2004 to commit to the University of Alabama. The class of 2005 saw few players who remained on the team to earn the 2009 BCS National Championship for the Crimson Tide. Several players failed to qualify, kicked off the team for violation of team rules, medical hardships, and players who transferred to smaller schools.

The key members who did remain and wear a national championship ring today include All-American Mike Johnson, Lorenzo Washington, Brandon Deaderick, Cory Reamer, Eryk Anders, Baron Huber, Roy Upchurch and Chris Rogers.

Coffee could have remained with his signing class and gone on to a victory at the Rose Bowl, but he opted to leave early for the NFL draft. He is following a different path today which has been more than an overnight decision.

Glen Coffee, Alabama

"I am still out in Cali right now," said Coffee. "I will probably be out here for another two weeks. I am just trying to get everything tied up. I am getting ready to move.

"I am going to go back to Florida (Fort Walton Beach) for now. I wanted to enroll at Alabama, but I don't know yet if I will be able to do that with classes starting early. My major was Consumer Affairs. I have two classes left, so I only need six hours.

"I don't know the plans after that. I will see if God opens the door for me to go in the ministry. The ministry is not something you can take lightly. I am not sure if I will go full time or not. Whatever God wants me to do after I get my degree I will do it."

It wasn't leaving Tuscaloosa early which made Coffee have any regrets once he moved to San Francisco.

"When I was at Alabama was the first time I realized this wasn't for me anymore," he said. "I didn't feel it in my heart. I found Christ when I was in my 20th year [age]. I said I was done with football. It didn't matter anymore, but if I was going to play then it was going to be to glorify His name.

All-SEC

"I then had the season I did as a junior. I still didn't feel that football was my calling. I thought to myself maybe if I was getting paid then I could tolerate it. That's why I decided to leave college early. I knew at the time money couldn't buy happiness, but I disobeyed God's will and did it anyway."

The decision was easy for Coffee, but expectations run high for great athletes. A common bond with the 49ers head coach made it a little easier for him to understand about the departure.

"When I made the decision I had total peace," Coffee said. "The thing I am most upset about is I fought with the decision because it was what the world expected of me. I had the talent and the ability to play football in the NFL. It's not God's will for me to play football, and that's why I made the decision.

"I told the 49ers on Friday morning about my decision. They were shocked. I was having a good camp, and I am a hard worker. At first they were surprised. Coach [Mike] Singletary, now that's a man who chases after Jesus. He loves the Lord, and it was a blessing to talk to him.


Head Coach Mike Singletary, 49ers|AP
"He told me to follow my heart. He said if my heart wasn't in football then it wasn't the right place for me. He told me it was my decision. He said if I walked out the door then I was walking out the door. I will say Christ was in that meeting. It was two Christians having a great talking with each other.

"I talked to my teammates about my decision. They understand why I made the choice. I will say when it's all said and done your true fans will always understand. They will always support you. In the end my teammates were supportive.

"I had not talked to my family recently about my decision. God and I alone needed to discuss it and work it out. I needed to hear it from Him. My family has mixed views on football. It's mixed feelings now about my decision. It's something I will have to pray on. Everyone isn't going to be pleased no matter who you are."

Coffee was a like a rock star in Tuscaloosa as with many athletes across any college campus. He enjoyed the party scene, but it was one individual who helped change his life.

"I had a roommate named Matt Watson," Coffee said. "I saw something in him. It was the first time I had looked at another guy and said, 'whatever it is you have I need it in my life'. He was living for Christ. I could see Christ beside him.

"He just gave me instant wisdom. Christ opened my eyes to the truth of the world and why we are here. It was a rush. There was no turning back. I saw it in my roommate, and I told Christ I was ready to receive. I knew what I was on this earth to do.


San Francisco 49ers, 3rd round selection
"I didn't want to play football anymore. I played football my whole life. When I was a little kid it was always my dream to play in the NFL. I knew it wasn't for me. It wasn't what Christ was calling me to do. I fought it for so long."

Coffee left Alabama after rushing for 1,383 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards a carry during his junior season. He was named First Team All-SEC by the Associated Press. He was selected in the third round (No. 74) by the San Francisco 49ers. He rushed for 226 yards last season.

Coffee is proud of the accomplishments of his former college teammates, but a much higher level has his attention.

"I am glad I left, but I didn't leave for the right reasons," Coffee said. "I only played because I cared about my teammates. I wanted to play for them and not let anyone down. I always wanted to be there for them.

"It's great they had the opportunity to win the national championship. I don't regret not being there. I don't want to upset anyone, but I am not too worried about championships. When I walk through the golden gates of Heaven I am not going to be judged on how many championships I won."


Glen Coffee prior to NFL draft
Coffee has walked away from the game of football, but his path of life is in great hands.

"As far as ever going back to play football that won't happen," Coffee said. "I have told Christ I am done. I have sounded the battle alarm. You can't tell Christ let's go into battle and then change your mind. It doesn't work like that. If it's ever His will for me to coach then it will be done.

"My plan right now is to go back to school first and foremost. Christ will open up a door when it's meant to be open. I am going to glorify His name. That's how I am going do everything in life.

"I am at peace with my decision. I have never felt like this before. Before a high school game when you have all the butterflies floating is how I feel right now. My master is everyone else's master. I have nothing to worry about."

This is not my typical area of coverage with FoxSports/Scout.com, but you develop relationships through the years of covering high school football players and keep in contact. Glen Coffee is definitely a player who remains on the all-time favorites list, and for good reason.

abone@scout.com

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