From The Trenches To The Pulpit: Interview of NFL prospect turned Christian Minister, Roderick Cantu

Many times the line between professional athletics and proselytizing the Christian faith have been crossed by the finely tuned machines that love them both. From boxing heavyweight champions like George Foreman and Evander Holyfield to football legend Reggie White and QB Tim Tebow the world’s most practiced religion has been confessed and believed by some of the biggest names in the game.  This particular relationship between religion and sports has caused ya boy 12 to invite a personal friend of mine to the corner store for an interview because his story rides this wave with the exception that he never played an NFL down.  It wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough, but to the contrary, he made the conscious choice to hang up his cleats right before his name would have been announced at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  He instead chose to put down the playbook and pick up the prayer book.  Or was it that he was chosen to do so by the Higher power?  I’ll let my brother speak for himself.  Welcome my manz Minister Roderick Cantu to the Corner Store.

12. Peace my man.  It’s been a while since we spoke last. How have you been?
 
RC: I am doing very well man. I will be married for 12 years on September 7th. I have 2 girls, a boy, and a boy on the way in December. Our faithful marriage is one of the biggest on-going accomplishments of my life. I hope this greeting finds you well as well.
 
12: Since I’m a lover of hip hop culture I want to bite off of the movie Brown Sugar and ask you, When did you first fall in love with football?
 
RC: I think it was watching excerpts of the Luv ya blue days when Earl Campbell was a beast. He was phenmomenal…I used to pretend I was Earl not a lineman…..hence the footwork!
 
12: Yes, quick feet was your trademark. I remember when you were a freshman and sophomore at Cypress Falls.  I used to tell everyone that you would make it to the league because you were the hardest working dude that I’ve ever seen.  When I arrived  in the weight room you were already there.   When I got to the track to run you were already running laps and bleachers. Where did that work ethic come from?
 
RC: I think that I wanted the NFL so bad that even then I knew that If I out worked people my natural gifts would give me a chance. I just didn’t want anyone to be better than me. I took it personal. I always got a bad feeling in my stomach when I thought someone was being rated higher than myself.
 
12: Me too. That’s why you always saw me coming into the weight room and on the track when you were already there. lol. How was your time at McNeese St?  Any good stories about that squad you played on?
 
 RC: I loved it at McNeese they treated football players very well and fed us good. Lake Charles loved us. It’s a unique town that gets really excited about their team. The thing that sticks with me most about the squad that went to the National Championship was that it wasn’t because we dominated every game. It was the fact that so many things went our way that season. If you create your own luck….. we created a lot that year. Don’t get me wrong we were very talented, but very fortunate as well.  
 
12: My momz is from Lake Charles. Maybe that’s why I love the sport so much.  Plus growing up in Texas didn’t make it any easier not to love the game. What position did you play and did you get any interest from pro scouts?  
 
RC: I played Right Guard and started all four years from my red-shirt freshman year. I was second team all-conference my sophomore and junior year ( I should have been first team my junior year), and I was 1st team my Senior year.
 
12: I know that there’s a misconception from some potential student athletes, and people in general, that the smaller schools don’t get NFL scout representation so they feel like they have to go to major universities to get a shot at the NFL.  How do you feel about that?
 
RC: It’s not true. If you’re good enough they find you. A Miami Dolphins scout and Jet scout talked to me before and after practice during my senior regular season. If you’re special it shows no matter where you’re at.
 
12. I agree.  I remember seeing scouts at Sam Houston St practices all of the time when we were out there getting after it.  After hearing about San Diego State’s Adam Muema leaving the NFL combine because he said that God told him to, I immediately thought about you.  The word in the hood(we are from the same neighborhood btw) was that you had a shot at the NFL but decided to follow a calling from God that you received to go into the ministry.  I know how rumors can get the actual story all twisted so I would like for you to tell us what the real story is.
 
RC: The truth is I was becoming something that was not consistent with Christ like character, and that coupled with the calling of ministry on my life just wasn’t comfortable. Jesus Christ is my savior and I felt a nudge to go a different direction. I stopped all contact with agents and didn’t enter the draft. Some people thought I was crazy. I don’t think I would have been a high draft pick, but I do think I would have got my chance. And you know me. Once there I would have outworked everybody. The only solace I have is knowing that I played against guys who were drafted and I dominated them.
 
12:  You know that I have nothing but love and respect for you bro, but I thought that you were crazy too.  Out of the few of us that I knew could make it to the league, you were one of them.  I messed my chance up to go D1.  I would have outworked all of those super talented cats too but it wasn’t for me I guess. I’ll write about that later.  I do respect the fact that you stuck to your guns and made the best decision that you had to make for you. Anyways, where do you see yourself in the future?  Did your years playing football, or sports in general, help you develop any of the skills that are required to accomplish any of your future goals? 
 
RC: I will have my Masters in Organizational leadership soon, and I currently secure programming for at-risk youth. I want to have a youth/life skills center with a sanctuary in it for church services. I plan on seeing my 9 year old boy play for Manchester United one day so that will take up a lot of my time. He is a better athlete than me. I think the confidence gained from accomplishing football goals has bled over into every aspect of my life as well as the passion and hard work.
 
12.  Thanks for taking the time to lay it out there for us brother.  You have always been one of my favorite people because of the way you worked for what you wanted.  Really inspiring man.  Is there anything you want the world to know about Roderick Cantu that we haven’t discussed already? 
 
RC:  I encourage men to be men of integrity in all their  dealings. The future of  our families and nation depend on it.
 
12: If you have anything that you would like to pub here’s your chance. Where can you be reached online?    
 
RC: rod.cantu@ymail.com
 
12: Once again I appreciate you for hanging out and rapping with ya bro 12 at The Corner Store.  I put the energy out there that all of your aspirations are met because you deserve it.  One luv.
 
Til next time, 12

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