If you are a Falcons fan, you likely know about Brian O’Neal Jordan. You also are familiar with his career if you are a Cardinals or Braves fan—in fact, if you are a sports fan, you probably know about this two-sport star who spent 15 years in the Big Leagues and three seasons with the NFL Falcons.
He didn’t make the splash that Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson made but he was no flash in the pan. Football was his first choice, but he believed that baseball offered the greatest longevity, recognizing that the hard knocks of the gridiron took a striking toll on his body.
Chances are, unless you follow him around during his weekly routine, you are not aware of his civic and charity resume. He has an elementary motto—help his community and help the kids in his community. He is proud of his baseball legacy, batting .282 with 184 home runs and 821 runs batted in. Those are not Willie Mays or Hank Aaron numbers, but statistics that enabled him to flourish in the big Leagues for a decade and a half.
He is proud, too, of the fact that he led the Falcons in tackles in one of his three years with the team. He also had five interceptions and four sacks in his preferred sport.
He is most proud of his foundation which honors his mother who is an educator who taught kids with special needs. “I watched her when I was in high school teach those kids with the greatest of passion and saw her put her heart and soul into giving those kids hope that, despite their disabilities, they could achieve in life,” Brian says.
In 1998, he formed the “Brian Jordan Foundation,” which has awarded over a million dollars in scholarships to special needs kids. That is the statistic that makes him smile the most. The good news is that as support of his foundation grows, those scholarship figures will increase with the passing of time.
“To see the smiles on those kid’s faces and see them become successful in life—that is what it is all about, and I am happy my mom instilled in me the need for me to support special needs causes.”
Jordan knows how fortunate he was, growing up in Baltimore with parents who influenced him to do the right things, and that education should be given the highest priority. When he settled in at the University of Richmond, playing football and baseball, he was able, owing to the greatest of commitment, to graduate in three-and-one-half years.
When he counsels young athletes, those who are prospects to sign elite financial contracts, he reminds them that no matter how much money they get on the front end and how well they manage it, education should remain a priority. “You never know how long you will be able to play professionally, and education will enable you to enjoy fulfillment in life,” he says.
This is a man who could write the definitive manual on the concept of giving back. He has been doing it all his adult life. A man of many talents, he has enjoyed television gigs, he has written three children’s books and champions literacy causes with the deepest of passion.
He reaches out to schools and kids and finds the greatest sense of accomplishment when he teaches a kid to read. Brian is not only a man with the ability to fund such initiatives, but he also functions with heartfelt sincerity in the process. He cares about the educational needs of kids.
When you take note of a successful athlete, you often don’t know the “rest of the story” in his/her life. Then there are the many athletes whose stories are forgettable. Bad headlines befall many successful stars. Bankruptcy is often a companion with many, which is why the Brian Jordan story is so refreshing and inspirational.
Forget, for a moment, what he accomplished between the white lines, which is exceptional. His off-the-field resume is just as brilliant. He is using his fame from being a two-sport star in the NFL and the Big Leagues to do some good for the world. He is forever extending a helping hand.
For example, he plays in a lot of charity golf outings because he enjoys golf. There is another critical reason. He knows that charity golf outings are providing support for an organization which has a bent for altruism. He can be evangelical with respect for the empowerment of youth. “What greater investment could we make today than into the kids in our communities,” he says.
While Brian has a very impressive career box score, his guiding principles of life might be more impressive:
- When an opportunity to prove your worth arises, grab it, and use it to the best of your abilities.
- Adversity happens whether in the form of a disappointing decision or injury. Learn to meet those challenges by getting back in the game as soon as you can rather than letting them defeat you.
- Remain confident in your own abilities. Don’t let other people tell you that you aren’t good enough.
- When obstacles arise, stay focused on the goal beyond those obstacles and insist on pushing your way past them.
- When people look down on you—whether because of your age, your race, your social status, or any other reason—use that negativity as a motivation to prove them wrong.
- Find people who inspire you.
- Follow your faith and let it guide you.
- Believe in your ability to achieve your dreams.
- Make education your highest priority because it is your surest path to lifetime success.
- Understand that disappointments are not God’s way of testing you but rather God’s way of giving you a different opportunity.
Brian Jordan is both a model athlete and a model citizen. “Hear, Hear.”