ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- David Akers stepped on to the stage and began to speak, just as he had time and time before, and will likely do time and time again. Known as a football player to most, this stage, this avenue, is the work for the rest of his life.
Akers is a devout Christian and has spoken about his faith before. Now, he has some more backing behind it -- the Detroit Lions' kicker said he recently became a licensed minister.
“There’s different levels,” Akers said. “Mine’s kind of more you can marry and bury. It’s the first level, but I do so much speaking that it becomes where, ‘OK, this is where it is.’
“If I wanted to be more in a church or, say, run a church, you need more for that. It’s like getting your bachelor’s in divinity.”
This process started for Akers three or four years ago, back when he was still kicking for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he will face Sunday in his second work trip back to the place he played for a decade.
He had already been speaking about his faith to conferences and conventions. So he decided to get officially credentialed with online courses through the Assemblies of God, a church based in Missouri.
It took a while, but Akers is now an official minister able to back up his beliefs with actual credentialing now.
See, Akers has lived and seen a lot. And his beliefs, while absolute, have been tested.
He dealt with having to leave Philadelphia, his home for a decade and the South Jersey area his family still lives in, to go to San Francisco for two seasons and now Detroit his season.
He dealt with losing almost $4 million in a Ponzi scheme with Triton Financial -- a case study his long-snapper, Don Muhlbach, told him he actually studied during the offseason at Wharton Business School.
He dealt with his daughter, Halley, having a scare with cancer two years ago.
Through it all, Akers leaned on his faith. His belief in a higher power and purpose that has carried him through his life.
“I had some people in the past two years say, ‘Man, you’ve gone through a lot of crazy stuff,'" Akers said. “There’s health, professional, relational, moving all across and in the financial aspect. Lost over 4 million dollars and all kind of crazy things happen, how do you deal with all that adversity?
“I can tell you where my faith lies and what happened.”
There’s also what he saw.
When he was in San Francisco, he met pastor Francis Chan, a minister who will sometimes take to the streets of the city to preach what he believes. When Akers met him, he decided he needed to go along with him.
To learn what he knew. To see what he saw.
“It’s called City Impact,” Akers said. “That blew my mind, doing street ministry in the Tenderlion District of San Francisco.
“Where you’re walking by people with full-blown AIDS and preaching the gospel to them a little bit. So, that aspect.”
Seeing that was only part of his overall experience with his faith, part of his training as a new minister. Akers believed through all of his personal tribulations and what he saw during his classes. It is what he preaches now, what he has worked on writing about. Because Akers already knows what’s next, especially as a 38-year-old who knows his professional football career -- a career that helped give him his voice -- is winding down.
His combination of football, life experience and ministry led him to want to tell his story through the prism of his faith. His belief is that his story could help others on their paths or to assist them through their own struggles.
So, he’s planning on writing a book.
“What we’re going to do is just kind of the different areas in life that you can kind of go through,” Akers said. “And how you can build off of it, and how one kind of leads into another.
“I’m really excited about it.”
It’s a book to help people through their ups-and-downs, through their own lives through the prism of what he has seen, what he has lived. If all goes well, he is hoping it could be out by next year.
“We’re moving pretty good,” Akers said. “I’ve got the whole outline on it, got the main chapter that we’re going to use for the proposal. We’ve got the overview, got the literary agent that’s ready and push it, sell it, we went to four of them.
“The concept seems to be pretty cool. People have kind of brainstormed with me and kind of heard it. It’s going to be a football, life, faith book.”
One that will have plenty of real life attached to it.