When the final cut for the 2009 Baltimore Ravens’ roster was completed and former Rebel Fullback Jason Cook had not made the team, he had an unusual reaction contrary to most aspiring professional athletes in a similar situation.
“I was totally at peace with being cut,” said Cook.
No rants, no major disappointment, no self-pity. Those things are not Jason’s style.
“I had done everything I could possibly do to make the club and it just didn’t work out for me,” he continued. “I realized God had another plan for me. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I would be fine in His hands.”
Little did Jason know then how quickly his next golden opportunity would come knocking.
Todd Johnson, the new Director of Ole Miss Fellowship of Christian Athletes, entered Jason’s life and a brief time later Cook was named the FCA Chaplain for Football.
“I am so excited to have Jason Cook join our FCA organization at Ole Miss,” said Johnson, whose ambitious plan for Ole Miss FCA includes expansion of sport-specific personnel. “You can’t put a value on Jason already having a relationship with the team and coaching staff. He has instant credibility and respect.”
“There will be a learning curve for Jason. We won’t just throw him into the fire, so to speak. There are good people in place to help with his transition and I will supervise him. Jason will have resources to draw from on how to be a fulltime minister. I know he has a teachable heart and we have a lot of people willing to help, so I have no issues with the challenges he has facing him.”
Johnson already knows what is in Jason’s heart and mind.
“Jason has a passion for people and a passion for the Lord. Jason is a fine example of a man who is living life the way God intended and he is anxious to help others do the same,” said Johnson. “Everything else will take care of itself. Everyone I have talked to about Jason has been positive, glowing even. That meant a lot to me when I was searching for someone to head up our efforts with the football team and in his other duties, such as donor development.”
Since his high school years, FCA has been near and dear to Cook. After his professional football career was cut short, joining Ole Miss FCA staff was not a hard decision for him.
“I truly feel I am being led to do this. I never expected to be back in Oxford this soon, but when the opportunity arose, I had a total peace about my decision to accept the position,” Jason noted. “My goal is to build on the relationships with the players I already have developed and to continue to gain and build trust with them. I want to be able to pour into the lives of these young men the same kind of guidance I got from (former Ole Miss FCA leaders) Wes Yeary, Jonathan Rainey and now Todd.”
Jason realizes what is facing him, but he never met a challenge he didn’t like on the football field or in life. He realizes he’s a “true freshman” in regards to being a minister with FCA.
“I am just as much a peer to the football players as I am a minister. I have faith I have lived my life the right way around them for four years and that they respect that. I have faith they know my heart and know the kind of man I am and that will transcend any other relationship status we have,” he explained. “I will have an adjustment and learning curve, but with any new endeavor that is the case.
“Even though I do not have experience in this undertaking, I am on the cutting edge of knowing what these players go through every single day and I have lived it, recently. I know every high and every low of being a football player at Ole Miss – the demands, the pressures, everything. What I lack in experience in the ministry, I can make up for in having been there and done that on the team and I have not lost a sense of what they are going through on all levels. It’s tough if you are not grounded in your life. I want to help facilitate them being grounded in their lives on and off the field.”
Johnson believes great things are in store for Ole Miss FCA, but to achieve those things will take more than hope and a prayer, if you will.
“We want our expansion of FCA here to be long-term, but frankly we do not have the funding for that at this time,” Johnson said candidly. “We need the Ole Miss community to step up and help support our cause in order to keep Jason securely here and to fund a fulltime minister on the women’s side of Ole Miss athletics as well.
“We hope everyone will who wants a viable, productive FCA at Ole Miss will help in any way they can financially.”
To make sure Todd and Jason’s ministry succeeds, go to www.olemissfca.com and make your donation.
“We could not have a better person to minister to the Ole Miss football players,” Johnson closed. “Let’s make sure this is a long-term venture.”