Brian Jordan, a retired two-sport professional athlete who played for both the Atlanta Braves and Falcons, almost didn’t make it to the pros.
After starring in both baseball and football at the University of Richmond and being drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals, Jordan still wanted to give football a try.
He was invited to play defensive back in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where, in the first quarter of the game, he collided with another player, breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle.
Doctors and trainers from several NFL teams said he would never be able to play at that level.
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“That night, my mother told me, ‘That’s why you finish your education,” he recalled.
Jordan did finish his education, but he said he used the nay-saying from the doctors to motivate him to rehabilitate his injured leg. Three months later, he said, with plates and screws helping hold things together, he was running full speed and on his way to three years in the NFL and 15 in Major League Baseball.
Jordan recalled the incident during a speech Thursday to the 2012 Hope Luncheon for the Feeding the Valley Food Bank at the St. Luke Methodist Church Ministry Center. He said when he was asked to speak, he looked into the nonprofit’s mission and was particularly drawn to one program.
“Kids Café is near and dear to me,” Jordan said.
Feed the Valley Executive Director Babbs Douglas said the Kids Café program provides 90,000 evening meals annually to children who might otherwise go hungry. During the summer, it provides 26,000 lunches to those children.
Children are the focus of the Brian Jordan Foundation, established in 1998 to promote education, health and fitness and literacy. Education, Jordan said, is the number one focus.
“Football can be taken away from you with one hit,” Jordan said. “But no one can take your education from you.”
Jordan also stressed encouraging children to play organized sports and to stay outside and active as much as possible.
“With all the computer games and social networks on the computer, there are so many distractions,” Jordan said. “Encourage your kids to get outside and be active.”
Finally, he urged parents to instill self confidence in their children and to motivate them to set goals and work toward them.
“Encourage your kids. Build up their confidence,” he said. “Make sure they know they can do whatever they set their minds to.”
Jordan played three years as a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons, then had a 15-year Major League Baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.
After leaving the field, Jordan became a broadcaster for Fox Sports South and Comcast Sports South. He does pre-game broadcasts for the Atlanta Braves and play-by-play for the Gwinnett Braves and has a sports talk radio show in Atlanta.
In addition to running his foundation, he has published three children’s books: “I Told You I Can Play,” “Overcoming the Fear of the Baseball,” and “Time-out for Bullies.”