When former NFL quarterback Travis Brown sustained shoulder and elbow injuries early in his 2005 season, he fully expected to return to the game after a standard period of convalescence.
“When I was done playing, I didn’t know I was done playing,” Brown says.
His injuries, and the resulting surgeries, would mark the end of his NFL career, but the start of a whole new life.
Phoenix, Flagstaff, faith and pro football
Born and raised in Phoenix, Brown attended church services with his family every Sunday, but it wasn’t a priority.
“Church was something you checked off the list,” he says.
Throughout high school and college, church was pushed even further down that list, with football taking a front seat during his time at Northern Arizona University. Brown would go on to set career records and earn All-America honors as a quarterback at NAU.
After college, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but was cut from the team in training camp. He later signed with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he would spend his rookie campaign during the 2000 season.
It was during his time in Seattle that he found his way back to a relationship with God. He was inspired by his teammates who he saw living their faith in their daily lives.
“This amazing group of guys – whatever they had, I didn’t have it,” Brown recalls.
In the fall of 2000, Brown and then-new wife, Cory, each made a personal commitment to Christ. This re-found faith grew and strengthened over the next five years as they moved around the country each time Brown was traded to another team.
Two shoulder surgeries, an elbow surgery, a knee surgery and two concussions later, Brown’s pro-football career was cut short in 2005 while playing for the Indianapolis Colts. Dreams of Super Bowl stardom would remain dreams as Brown retired from the NFL and returned to Arizona.
Home again, home again
With three kids now in tow, the Browns moved back to Flagstaff in 2007. Brown returned to his old stomping ground to work for the NAU Athletic Department and pursue an MBA.
When they learned they were expecting once again – twins, this time – the Browns packed up and headed south to be closer to family. On August 1, 2008 identical twin boys Justin and Wyatt were born – three months preterm.
At 1 pound 11 ounces and 2 pounds 2 ounces, Wyatt and Justin were dangerously premature. The months that followed were dramatic for the Brown family, to say the least.
With two newborns fighting for their lives in the hospital, and three more children at home, Brown started feeling the pressure of his hectic schedule. Between running a quarterback school for NFL hopefuls, to his duties as offensive coordinator for Peoria Sunrise Mountain High School’s football team, responsibility was mounting. It was time for Brown to prioritize.
“I just couldn’t do it,” he says. “I realized, ‘right now might not be the best time to be doing so much.’”
After just a few months at Sunrise Mountain, Brown left his coaching position behind. Justin and Wyatt were discharged from St. Joseph’s hospital on October 14, 2008. With their fourth birthday approaching the boys are happy and healthy. Brown says, as parents, he and Cory feel truly blessed.
“There were not nearly as many complications as there could have been,” Brown says.
With two girls and three boys, all 10 years old or younger, life in the Brown house can be chaotic.
“We’ve literally been in diapers for 10 years,” Brown chuckles.
Joining a new team
The following spring, Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) approached Brown to oversee its youth football program. Brown was attending a nearby church at the time but had a special place in his heart for CCV.
“I grew up going to CCV,” Brown says. “I was at the first service in a movie theatre at Metrocenter mall.”
Thirty years later, CCV has grown in size, both physically and in number of attendees. It currently operates a 100-acre campus in Peoria, and an additional campus in Surprise. More than 18,000 members attend 10 services every weekend.
In the years that followed, Brown became more involved in ministry at CCV, taking on additional leadership roles. When CCV opens its newest location in Scottsdale this August, Brown will lead the way as Scottsdale Campus Pastor.
“This is another opportunity for us,” he says.
The new campus will serve the 2,500 CCV members who currently commute from Scottsdale.
“If people have to drive 20 or 30 minutes to get to church, they’re less likely to get involved,” Brown says. “[With the new location], it will be easier to make an impact in the community.
“Statistics show that 87 percent of people in the Valley don’t go to church at all. Our goal is to reach as many people as we can.”
When asked about his hopes and goals for the future, Brown says that, through all the experiences that brought him here, he has learned to not put limits on God and to trust that He has a plan.
“God has used all that,” Brown says. “My NFL experience has given me platforms and opened doors that otherwise would have been unavailable.”
While he did not envision himself in this role when he started with CCV three years ago, Brown says he feels very grateful to be a part of the church and to be making a difference in people’s lives.