The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 11, 2013

Ex-Steeler punter awaits God’s plan

By Lauren Mylo
Herald Staff Writer

NEW WILMINGTON — Over and over again, former Pittsburgh Steeler Daniel Sepulveda said he’s witnessed blessings that came because he trusted in God’s sovereignty.

The 28-year-old said he didn’t want to be a kicker after making the team at Baylor University, but God showed him that position was where he was supposed to be. Sepulveda also said he hadn’t anticipated moving to Pittsburgh to play professional football – his family lives in Texas – but that was in God’s plan as well.

“When I turn to God and say, ‘OK God, whatever you want,’ I end up in the NFL,” Sepulveda said. “Can you see it in your own life when you don’t want something, and God leads you?”

On Sunday night, Sepulveda told a crowd at Victory Christian Center at New Wilmington that he’s depending on that trust now as he looks to what’s next in his post-professional football life since a knee injury that prevented him from playing in not only one but two Super Bowls also has kept him from being re-signed by the Steelers.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do (next),” said Sepulveda, who said he had five workouts for teams last year but didn’t see anything come of them. He noted his knee isn’t what it used to be so it’s probably wise not to push it.

“It’s wait and see,” he said. “I know I’m excited about the opportunity to share (tonight) what God’s doing in my life with anyone who will hear it. This process (of preparing to speak) has already been an encouragement and a blessing.”

He jogged up the stairs to the microphone, Bible in hand, to speak to more than 100 people at the church – at least his third speaking appearance there. Some in the audience asked if he’d ever considered ministry full-time.

He said he had, and he also noted he enjoys working with college students, but he’s really just waiting to see what God has next.

“I’m just trying to be patient and discern what (God’s) will is,” he said.

He gives talks periodically about his faith and his time on the team.

“People will come and hear what a Pittsburgh Steeler has to say – almost no matter what he has to say,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

But he said his message hasn’t changed whether he’s on the roster or not.

“My identity is firmly rooted in the fact I’m a child of God,” he said.

He said something that really shaped his life was growing up in a Christian home where his parents gave he and his three brothers one consistent message: “You’re a winner, you’re mine, and I love you.”

His parents also made sure the last words the boys heard before leaving the house were, “Make good choices.”

“How do you match that with ‘you’re a winner, you’re mine and I love you?’ ” Sepulveda said. “They cared about us.”

Sepulveda paralleled that message with God’s love, saying that God asks his children to follow him because he cares and knows his way is best.

He said if he could have chosen between playing in the Super Bowl or spending a year struggling with a knee injury but growing closer to God, he’s glad he got to live the second scenario.

“You don’t get through that time with any peace of mind if your faith in God is not real,” he said, noting there’s no contest between choosing between temporary glory or preparing his life for eternity.

Sepulveda shared a few humorous anecdotes from his time with the team – he was on the roster from 2007 to 2011 – including one from his missed 2009 Super Bowl.

He was on his way back to the locker room with the team after the first half when he realized he could turn around and watch the halftime show since he wouldn’t be playing in the second half either.

He headed back to the sidelines while the stage was being set up, and soon Bruce Springsteen came out. There was no rope or barrier dividing Sepulveda from the stage.

“I was in the middle of the halftime show,” he said with a laugh.

A few people asked questions about the other Steelers or what Sepulveda’s favorite team was growing up, but the first question an audience member asked was, “Do you like the Browns?”

Acknowledging the heated rivalry between the teams, Sepulveda responded, “That wasn’t even a question.”