The Rod Grizzard Error

We are in a crazy time for sports right now.  Summer, fall and winter sports are all happening this month.  The major league baseball playoffs are in full swing.  College and pro football are well into their seasons.  College and pro hockey have just started.  And the NBA is playing basketball.  The only thing missing is college basketball, which gets underway next month.

I just started leading a Bible study on the life and message of the Apostle Paul.  In the first lesson, the author of the study, Rev. Adam Hamilton, talks about the dangers of too much ambition.  It reminded me of Rod Grizzard about 15 years ago.  The fact that most of you are probably asking “Who?”, illustrates the point his story makes.

In the early 2000’s, Rod Grizzard was a college basketball player for the University of Alabama.  He was a pretty good player and made a difference on the team.  But during his junior year, either he or someone else, got the idea that it was time to turn pro.  Instead of returning to the team for his senior year, he allowed his name to be entered in the college player draft.

He was selected in the second round.  He may have gotten a bonus for signing, but that was all he got.  He never made it onto the team and that fall he was playing basketball in Europe and the Middle East.  Later he played for a Canadian team, but he never played for an NBA team in his career.

Meanwhile in the early season of 2002-3, the Alabama basketball team started strong.  Over the Christmas-New Year’s weeks, Alabama was ranked the number 1 college basketball team in the nation.  I don’t know if that ever happened before, but in the 25 years I had been living in Alabama, it never happened (unlike their football playing counterparts).  Finally, in January, 2003, the team came crashing down to earth and began losing some games.

That would have been Rod Grizzard’s senior year.  He could have been part of a number 1 team in the nation.  He might have made the difference in how their season turned out.  His maturity and leadership could have helped to stabilize the team so they could bounce back from a loss or two and regain their direction.

But it did not happen and we will never know–all because Grizzard became impatient.  He let his ego and ambition take the place of common sense.  His potential after his senior year might have made him a first round draft choice and his experience in making a good team better might have made the difference in whether he made the pro team or not.

I don’t want to be too hard on Grizzard.  He might have gotten injured in his senior year and never had the career he eventually got.  He did make a living playing basketball professionally for about 10 years after college.  And he got to see places in Europe and Turkey and Canada that he might not have seen otherwise.

I still think he made a mistake.  I think he let his advisers convince him he was better than he turned out to be.  His ambition tripped him up.

The Phillips version of Romans 12:3 says to “…have a sane estimate of your capabilities.”  We need to be self-confident and not sell ourselves short.  God has given us all talents and abilities and we need to use them to their fullest.  But we also need to place our lives in God’s hands and let God lead us to the place we can best use those talents and abilities (or as the United Methodist Church calls them “gifts and graces”).  If we do that, we will be the most successful and fulfilled we can be.  If we fail to do that, we may end up unsuccessful and unfulfilled.

The choice is ours.  Make it with prayer and the support of spiritual friends.


About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now the pastor of Big Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Brownsboro, AL. He retired as a United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed is now widowed. He had been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 38 years. She was the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. He currently resides in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily, running and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at
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