Former NFL fullback Dan Alexander gave his testimony last Sunday at Immanuel Baptist Church in honor of Super Bowl Sunday, but it wasn’t the story one might expect from a professional football player.
“I wish my testimony was that I was rebellious and a bad kid, and I was redeemed by Christ,” Alexander said. “…The three most important things to me when I left high school were I was a virgin, I never had a sip of alcohol and I never used drugs.”
Growing up in Missouri, Alexander went Wentzville Holt High School, where he lettered in football, wrestling and track. He won the Missouri state wrestling title at heavyweight in 1996.
Though Alexander described himself as a good child, he said he struggled in school, nearly flunking eighth grade, before he entered high school. Because of that, he wasn’t eligible to play sports prior to high school because of his grades.
“I think maybe part of it was I was just ready to go to high school,” he said.
Alexander said he received a lot of encouragement from his mother, and he knew he wanted to follow his older brother, who was the first in his family to attend college.
“Going into high school, I knew God was first,” Alexander said. “If I want to go to college, I need to get a scholarship first. I need to be the best sports player I can be so I can get the best scholarship I can.”
So Alexander said he remained faithful, focused on improving his grades and began to excel in football, wrestling and track.
“I told myself one of these sports is going to take me to college,” he said. “When I say yes to something, I know I have to say no to something else.”
Alexander said he turned his back on drinking, drugs and late nights and said yes to hard work, Bible study and going to church.
“To be successful, you have to be willing to do things nobody else wants to do,” he said. “When I left high school, I had a lot of things to brag about.
“I was in the Just Say No club when I was in school. The reason the Just Say No effort failed was because they didn’t tell you what to say yes to.”
Alexander was the third best fullback in the country as an All-American at the time. He signed a scholarship to play for Nebraska.
Alexander excelled in football while with the Cornhuskers. He was a two-time finalist for the Nebraska Lifter of the Year award and the first freshman in school history to win the award in 1997. While there, Alexander rushed for 2,456 yards and 20 touchdowns in 38 career games.
That was despite tearing an anterior cruciate ligament the first week into his first season at Nebraska.
“With anything, that’s where the devil can slip in. Sin started slipping in,” he said.
Alexander said the Cornhuskers were coming off back-to-back national championships in 1994 and 1995 when he arrived. He said individual focus began to enter his mindset instead of focus on Christ.
“Our focus is Christ,” he said. “Everything we should do should revolve around Him. God should be the sun in our solar system. He’s the reference point.”
Alexander referenced the Old Testament story of King Nebuchadnezzar, where the king turned his back on God.
“God struck him down, and he started eating grass,” Alexander said.
Alexander went on to be named offensive MVP of the 2000 Alamo Bowl after rushing for an Alamo Bowl record 240 yards in a 66-17 win over Northwestern. He was one of eight semifinalists for the 2000 Doak Walker Award given annually to the top college football running back. He was voted first-team All-Big 12 as a senior by the conference coaches and second-team All-Big 12 by the Associated Press. He was also the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher under then-head coach Frank Solich.
After graduation, the Tennessee Titans selected Alexander in the sixth round, 192nd overall. The Titans went 7-9 that season and released him. He then signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he spent 2002 and then played with the St. Louis Rams in 2003.
In 2004, Alexander signed with the Arena Football League Nashville Kats and was named to the AFL’s All-Rookie team after rushing for 105 yards and five touchdowns and recording 12.5 tackles as a linebacker in seven games.
He went on to play for the Chicago Rush and Alabama Vipers and is currently a free agent.
Alexander and his wife, Amy, live in Franklin. They have a son, Braxton.
At the end of his testimony Sunday at Immanuel, Alexander urged prayerful guidance in all aspects of life.
“You get a vision; you take it to God and others in prayer,” he said. “You take that edited plan and you dedicate it to the Lord. It has no other option; it will be a success.
“That’s really what we need in our lives. I want divine vision. I want to know what God wants me to do in my life.
“God has plans, and it’s going to be seen through His works. God always tells us right from wrong, but He doesn’t always tell us right from left.”