What inspired you to write your first book, Playing for More?
It’s funny, the first idea I was kicking around in my head was about my dad, Steve Keenum. I’ve been blessed to be the son of a football coach and a Christian man. I’ve learned so much from him and I wanted to share those lessons. But then when I started thinking about it, I realized my father’s influence shows up in every part of my life. I thought that telling my whole story would bring the things my dad taught me to life.
Tell us about the title of your book, Playing for More. What is the “more” that you play for?
I am a very competitive person. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing football or a silly card game – I want to win at everything. But if that’s all I’m playing for, I’m cheating myself and my Lord. As I say in the book, I’m playing for an Audience of One. God gave me that competitive instinct and the ability to throw a football. I’m not out there just to break records or rack up big numbers. Those are nice. But the real motivating factor is much bigger. I’m out on the field for one reason – to glorify God.
A lot of people were surprised when you said the Minneapolis Miracle was the third best moment of your life. Tell us about the two moments that topped that one.
There were some crazy moments after the Minneapolis Miracle. I could barely put together a sentence. But this was an easy one. Marrying my wife Kimberly is obviously above that. If you knew Kimberly, you’d know why. Giving my life to Jesus Christ is the most important thing. How can anything else possibly compete with that? Winning football games is amazing. But to wake up every day and know that Jesus loves me has given me true happiness.
You wrote this with Andrew Perloff, a writer for Sports Illustrated and a part of The Dan Patrick Show. How did you guys meet each other and how did you choose him to be a part of this project?
I met Andrew when I first got to the NFL. He was writing a story for Sports Illustrated on quarterbacks who came from Texas. We instantly hit it off. We’ve been able to get together for dinners, usually during Super Bowl week. This year we started talking about doing a book and both got excited. Andrew immediately understood why I wanted to do this. Not to brag about my football accomplishments. But to show how my faith has guided me throughout my career. Working together was easy because we both wanted to send a positive message out to the world with this book.
People look at your success and often don’t realize the difficult road it took to get here. What are some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
Nothing in my football career has come easy. I was lightly recruited out of high school and only received on official scholarship offer. During college I injured my knee and had to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility. After a difficult rehab process, I finally returned to the field and had success. But I still wasn’t drafted by an NFL team. I spent my first pro season on the Houston Texans practice squad. Then even after I had the opportunity to start eight games for the Texans in my second season, I was released the following offseason. My pro career has had plenty of ups and downs. I’ve had to earn every snap I’ve ever gotten. I think that’s why I appreciate everything that’s happened so much. I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.
It’s obvious from the book that family plays a huge role in your life. Tell us a little about your family, and the importance of family for you.
My wife Kimberly recently showed me some video she took after the Minneapolis Miracle and one of the best parts is that my family is there after the game. I’ve been blessed to be part of a very tight-knit family. My dad has been at every football game I’ve started in high school, college and the NFL. My mom is often there as well. If she can’t make it in person. she’s always one of the first messages on my phone after the game. My parents have provided an incredible model of a Christian marriage and set a standard Kimberly and I are trying to live up to. My sisters are great and were a wonderful resource for writing this book. And I’m very close with Kimberly’s family as well. I’ve gotten to travel to some neat places in my NFL career, but Abilene will always be home because that’s where my family is and it’s with them that I’m truly grounded.
What do you hope readers gain from reading it?
I wanted to tell my story so fans could get to know me better and so people could see how having Jesus Christ in my life has made all the difference. I’m just a guy from West Texas… I couldn’t have predicted some of the things that have happened. I hope my journey inspires others to believe in themselves and dream big. Especially the young readers who are about to reach the point when they have to make real decisions. Decisions with consequences. I got a lot of help at critical points of my life. I wrote Playing for More with the intent to show that anything is possible with the Lord’s help.