In 2009, Jason Brown’s five-year, $37.5 million dollar contract, $20 million guaranteed, with the St. Louis Rams made him the highest-paid center in the NFL. For three years he started every game, before he was released in 2012.
Instead of signing as a free agent to interested teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens, the 6-foot-3, 320-pound former offensive lineman bought 1,000 acres of farmland in Louisburg, NC, to grow crops and donate them to feed the hungry programs.
“When I think about a life of greatness, I think about a life of service,” Brown told CBS News.
Even though he reached the NFL, made a lot of money and lived in a big house, Brown said that he hasn’t felt more successful than he does now. “Not in man’s standards,” Brown said. “But in God’s eyes.”
Brown, who spent his NFL career with his hands in the dirt plowing the way towards the end zone for his teammates, found meaning in serving others.
“My agent, he told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,’” Brown said to CBS. “And I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No, I am not.’”
Brown said he knew nothing about farming before 2012. He said he learned by studying tutorial videos on Youtube and talking to other farmers, according to newsone.com.
“When you see them pop out of the ground, man, it’s the most beautiful thing you could ever see,” Brown said.
Rebecca Page, who works with Society of St. Andrew, a nondenominational organization that helps feed the needy, was assigned to Brown’s farm.
“One day, out of the blue, I get this call, and the man on the line says, ‘Come and get these cucumbers,’” Page told The Boston Globe. “Are you telling me this because you want Society of St. Andrew to harvest them? And he said, ‘Yes ma’am.’”
It was not just a bag of cucumbers. It was 170,000 pounds of cucumbers that Brown donated to the Society of St. Andrew. They were sent to area shelters and food pantries set up to feed the hungry, The Globe reported.
Brown told Page that next year he wants to make a bigger contribution.
“He’s saying 10 acres next year. . . 10 acres! That almost takes my breath away,” Page told The Globe. “He wants this big festival, with something like 700 gleaners. We’re doing all this by hand and honestly, I’m not sure I can get my head around that.”
“This is the most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life,” Brown told the News & Observer. “It’s living a life with purpose.”