From what I have heard about Bryan Schwartz
, some things haven't changed.He
is still a big, friendly South Dakota farm boy with a combine bin full of passion.The 6-foot-4 former linebacker loves his
family and home state, and he
still attacks life like a heat-seeking missile.
However, this is the new and improved Bryan Schwartz
.Kinder and gentler.The quick temper that sometimes served him well in high school, college and pro football has dissolved into patience, love and a deeper understanding of what is really important in life.
"The difference is that I am working a new owner now," said Schwartz
, whose 30-year-old body has recovered from knee and leg injuries that shortened his
football career."I work for the Lord, and thankfully, he
is not going to fire me if I don't produce on some days.The Lord has a little more grace than your average NFL coach."Schwartz
, who grew up on a dairy farm five miles east of St. Lawrence, was the featured speaker Monday night at the fifth annual Clergy Appreciation Banquet in Aberdeen.It was sponsored by Heartland Men of Integrity and March for Jesus.Schwartz, who spent five years playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the National Football League, is now senior associate pastor at Morning Star Christian Church in Austin, Texas.
Not only will you find a more content man, for those of you in the area who knew and competed against the 1990 Miller High School graduate, but one with a Texas drawl as well.He
three daughters have that same drawl, and he
and wife Diane are expecting a fourth Texan.
said there are similarities between pro athletes and ministers."Every day.I have opposition trying to stop me from doing the things that God wants me to do with my life.But every day, I strap on the armor of God and go to battle.There are a lot of sacrifices that have to be made.Just like a training camp, you sometimes have to get down with God, and it is not always easy.But He
gives you that extra wind to make it through the tough times."
has fond memories growing up as an athlete in the Miller area, including Aberdeen."I love this city," he
told the crowd of more than 200.
"Today we drove by Northern State and Dacotah Hall and all these memories started flashing back to me," said Schwartz
."When I was in grade school, we always came to Aberdeen every year for the big Y basketball tournament.And I remember coming to Aberdeen to play Roncalli, and in the summer, we would come to Aberdeen for Teener and Legion baseball tournaments.Getting back to this area and this whole state has been like a breath of fresh air for me."Schwartz
is an all or nothing type of guy.For example, he
said the air conditioning in his
car is either going full blast, or its turned off.His
message was well-received on Monday night.Fellow ministers thanked him for his
continues to shine even though he
is no longer a star in the bright lights of a world stage like Monday Night Football.
isn't signing a $1.3 million contract or leading the team with 165 tackles like he
did in his
rookie NFL season fresh from Augustana College
But it is obvious that the rewards Schwartz reaps from the word of God is much more satisfying.