When Derek Carr signed his $125 million dollar contract extension, he instantly became the NFL’s highest paid player. Not just its current highest paid player—rather, the highest paid player in league history.
The interview following this signing became news not simply for the surprising amount of money that the fourth year player out of Fresno State is receiving, but because his response to the question, “What will you do with the money?” took everyone off guard.
Reporter: “Your priorities in life and everything are well known, but it is a huge contract. You’re not really an extravagant guy, but is there one thing that you’re going to splurge on?”
Carr: “Chick Fil A. I’ve been eating clean, I’ll probably get some Chick Fil A.”
A pleasant, folksy, “how could you not like this guy” comment. Standard fare among those in the image business who want to be seen as “normal” after receiving many lifetimes of normal salaries to play football.
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Besides being great free advertising for the nation’s largest fast food chicken seller, his dining aspirations only set up the far more disorienting comment to follow. Indeed, Carr isn’t the first freshly minted multi-millionaire with a penchant for the local spicy chicken sandwich, but he may be the first to publically acknowledge the trifecta in italics that came next.
Investing in God
“But no, uh, first thing I’ll do is I’ll pay my tithe like I have since I was in college getting $700 on a scholarship check. That won’t change, I’ll do that.”
That answer sounds like he takes his Dave Ramsey seriously. Or better, his Malachi:
Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 13:8-12)
Some ancient language and context in there, but Carr must understand at some level that to do anything less than give God a first-fruits portion of his income—whether that income consists of $7 or $700 or $7 million or $700 million—is to align himself with the God robbers of Malachi’s first listeners.
Maybe he also believes the promise that comes with the threat. God invites the reader to “put me to the test” and see that He will provide and protect in ways you can’t imagine if you give back to Him first. Carr might believe that his security isn’t ultimately in the front office of the Raiders, but in the highest office of the universe, in a God who will have his back in good times and bad.
However he came to the conclusion that giving to God first is a good idea, it’s an outlier response rarely—never?—heard on sports interview podiums.
Investing in his wife
“I’ll probably get my wife something nice, you know, even though she begs me not to. She still gets coupons...none of that’s gonna change.”
Everybody loves Mom, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with saying that the first major purchase after a big signing is going to the one who brought you into the world. But Carr’s response—that he’s actually going to care for his wife first—sounds so radical today.
See if you can remember the last time a male athlete held up his wife and basically said, “I’m going to hit God up first, and after that, my wife. She’s going to get something nice as an expression of my love for her, not because she asked for it or is materialistically bent. She’s not. I just love her.”
Extending the blessing to Mom or whoever else is in the immediate family/friends circle makes sense, but to start with “wife”—simple as it sounds—is increasingly rare today.
Investing in others around the world
“The exciting thing for me, money-wise honestly, is that this money is gonna help a lot of people. You know, I’m very thankful to have it, but it’s in our hands not only because it’s going to help people in this country but in a lot of countries around the world, and that’s what’s exciting to me.”
Jesus noted that a person who could be trusted with a little could be trusted with more.
Derek Carr seems to realize that he’s been given a stewardship; that is, he’s been entrusted with someone else’s resources to care for them the way the owner would prefer. If you understand that owner to be God, then to intentionally use His resources to help others becomes a natural response.
What a financial shelter: to be rich toward God by investing in people, caring for the poor and marginalized. The wise steward thinks about how to turn the power of one’s resources into aid on behalf of those with less power, less resourcing, and on behalf of those more vulnerable, more in need.
His answer is only radical because he actually sounds like a Christ-follower who understands what the Master wants, which for an exhorbitantly paid athlete should have far more to do with helping others than pointing to heaven after a touchdown.
The best way to manifest “thanking my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” isn’t in a victorious post-game interview, but in a portfolio that reflects a significant portion of money going to places that need it. Investing in others instead of tearing down one’s own barns only to build bigger ones to store more personal stuff.
What will you do?
Maybe as they’re sharing that celebratory chicken sandwich it will cross one or both of their minds that they could now own all 98 Chick Fil A locations in California if they so choose.
Maybe the coupon clipping will become a thing of the past, replaced by decorating multiple homes around the country, filling closets, fitting yachts, etc.
These things happen to the best of people who suddenly find themselves stewarding far more financial resources than any individual person or couple should be expected to manage.
But what they do as a couple isn’t the point. It’s far more on us.
Instead of simply admiring Carr and heralding him on a Christian hero pedestal, maybe we can actually be challenged by him and the Biblical, “rich toward God” formula he’s modeling in this still-sane moment: invest in God, invest in those closest to you, invest in the needs of the world.
Use his testimony to do a little inventory of your own resources and how they’re being allocated.
For those who respond to this interview by heading down a less noble path, following him around on a hypocrisy hunt searching out his inconsistencies, just know this:
If he really handles his money the way he describes in this interview, then he has a Defender protecting him and watching his back far more securely than the Oakland Raiders offensive line.
And if he doesn’t, he’ll give an account to the God he mentioned in the interview, who still has his back.
But guess what. At some point, so will you.
Mock him at your own risk. Learn from him toward your own reward.