A Devastating Leg Injury Strengthened UB Bulls’ Punter Evan Finegan’s Faith and Connected Him with an NFL Legend
“The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” Episode 49
In the second game of the 2019 season, Evan Finegan was rolling out for a punt against the Penn State Nittany Lions. A defender broke through the University at Buffalo Bulls’ blockers and tried to block his punt, leading to Evan and the defender having shin on shin contact.
Evan suffered a clean tibia-fibula fracture. His season was immediately over.
The UB Bulls’ punter, who made a full recovery, sat down with Noah and Bjorn for this week’s podcast. On the podcast, Evan describes what he learned from his injury and which NFL legend he connected with as a result.
Rehab Brought Evan Closer to God
“I wouldn’t take the injury away … I grew so much in my faith”--Evan Finegan
Two things that Evan had always loved from a young age were football and God. He started playing organized football in second grade and grew up in a Christian household. He says he started to really develop his faith in high school when taking a theology class that made him dive into the Bible.
In 2019, one of these things was taken away from him when he broke his leg. After his injury he had surgery the next day, receiving a metal rod that goes from his knee to his ankle.
Evan faced a long road to recovery. He says that the physical part of rehab was tough, but the mental part was even harder. He didn’t know if he was going to be able to play again or if his leg would ever heal correctly. Evan could have grown angry at God, blaming him for what happened and questioning why God would allow something like this. However, this isn’t what he did. Instead, Evan took his injury as an opportunity to lean on God and strengthen his faith. As difficult as it might be to believe, Evan says that if he could do it all over again, he would still choose to get injured.
On the podcast, Evan talks about what he specifically learned from God during this process.
Evan’s Injury Helped Him Connect with an NFL Legend
“I got a text from my aunt saying, ‘If you get a call from a Virginia area code [answer it].’ Within a matter of minutes, I got a call” - Evan Finegan
After his surgery Evan had to spend four days in a Penn State hospital. After he was able to leave the hospital and was on his way back home, he got a text from his aunt telling him to answer a phone call that he might be getting.
God was about to open up an amazing door for Evan.
A few minutes later Evan received the phone call and answered it. On the other end of the phone was an NFL legend.
This NFL legend had suffered a significant injury similar to Evan’s during his playing career and gave Evan some words of encouragement.
Evan and the former NFL player stayed in contact and formed a friendship over time. Evan says that he’s learned a lot from this new connection. The former NFL player also helped give Evan a new perspective on his injury and recovery, giving him an additional person to lean on.
In the podcast episode Evan reveals which NFL legend he’s formed a relationship with and talks in more detail about what he’s learned from their relationship.
What is God Teaching You?
An injury is a really hard thing for any athlete to deal with. It takes them away from the sport they love and leads to a grueling process of physical therapy.
Injuries, or any other source of adversity in our life, can cause us to feel resentment towards God. However, Evan didn’t give in to these feelings. Instead, he used his injury as a way to grow closer to God.
In fact, Evan said he would go through the injury again because of all he learned and how his relationship with God grew. We should all try to do what Evan did.
As hard as it can be, we need to be faithful to God and trust his plan for us. Evan was, and God opened a door for him and provided a relationship that never would have been there otherwise.
This is a great example of the blessings we can receive if we trust in God.
Adversity is always going to be hard, and no one wants to go through it. However, instead of using it as a source of resentment, we should look at it in a different way.
God is providing us with a challenge. He never promised that we wouldn’t face challenges, but he did promise that he would be by our side through them.
We can either turn against God and rely on our own strength to get through it (a plan that won’t be successful), or we can use it as an opportunity to lean on God, strengthen our relationship, and learn new things.
How do you handle adversity? Do you resent God or lean on him?
Can you think of any examples of blessings you’ve received when you’ve trusted in God?
To hear the conversation that Noah and Bjorn had with Evan Finegan about his faith and football, his injury, which NFL legend he has a relationship with, what makes a great leader, and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 49.
“The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” is a podcast based out of Hamburg, New York, that was started in May of 2020 to discuss faith and its intersection with sports. Noah Corsten and Bjorn Webb co-host the podcast, interviewing both past and current athletes and coaches about how faith plays a role in their life. “The Sweat Room” is a part of Watermark Wesleyan Church’s Sports & Fitness Ministry. The podcast can be found on the website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and wherever you stream your podcasts.