Even though many NFL players can boast about a track record of success with their football careers, many have overcome personal struggles, battled health issues, and strive to find more meaning in their lives. Many have become very inspirational role models for fans and aspiring athletes, setting an example for those who may feel like they have lost hope or need some direction.
Here are just ten of the most inspiring NFL players of all time:
#1: Michael Oher
This NFL star was adopted by a Mississippi family at an early age and worked hard on his football career to play at Ole Miss before joining the Baltimore Ravens. His life history serves as the storyline for the movie, "The Blind Side".
#2: Kurt Warner
Warner's humble beginnings and road to success have inspired many aspiring athletes. This former NFL quarterback started his career as a grocery store clerk bagging groceries. He eventually went on to become a Super Bowl winning quarterback and has since become an inspiration to many aspiring athletes.
#3: Reggie White
Reggie White has become a household name and attracted a strong following during his term with the Green Bay Packers. In addition to being an NFL star, White is an ordained pastor and has helped to bring many people to Christianity. He is committed to his faith and boasts a strong track record of success with his football career.
#4: Vince Papale
This former bartender who never even played football in college seemed to have defied the odds when he made the team after tryouts in 1976. His humble beginnings and hard work paved the way for success playing for the Eagles.
#5: David Garrard
Garrard is the quarterback for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and has been diagnosed with Crohn's disease. He's toughed out the pain, as well as the emotional and physical side effects of this disease as he built his successful football career.
#6: Steve Gleason
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS about a year ago and now has to walk with a cane. The young NFL player - now only 34 years of age - is also a father and husband, and is now putting his energy into ALS advocacy work with 'Team Gleason'.
#7: Rocky Boiman
Boiman was raised in a middle-class family on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio, and admits that he worked very hard for his parents' approval throughout his youth. He was signed and then released with the Dallas Cowboys, but that defining moment would lead him to sign on with the Indianapolis Colts which went on to with the Super Bowl. His persistence and perseverance have paved the way for a successful NFL career.
#8: Ken Harvey
A firm believer in second chances, Harvey is the former linebacker for the Phoenix Cardinals and the Washington Redskins. He dropped out of high school at an early age but realized that he was stuck in a rut of self-destructive habits. He learned to develop his own self-worth and went on to complete his education, applied to a junior college, then earned a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley before playing in the NFL.
#9: Kevin Reilly
Reilly's successful NFL career came to an end when he was diagnosed with cancer. The former NFL player was a member of the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and the New England Patriots. At one point, he had to face the fact that he might not make it through surgery. He survived the surgery and is dedicated to living a purpose-driven life, regardless of his limitations.
#10: Blaise Winter
Winter's rough start in life has led him to triumph. He survived the effects of family abuse, teasing and taunting from others because of speech problems, and barely had support from teachers and coaches as he was growing up. He overcame his struggles as an adult to enjoy a successful 11-year career in the NFL.