Renaldo Wynn: Family matters
Renaldo Wynn played college football at Notre Dame before he was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. Wynn was a standout defensive end who also played for the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants.
At Notre Dame, Wynn gained All-American honorable mention honors as a junior and during his senior season Wynn was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and Lineman of the Year.
Wynn is currently living in Las Vegas with his wife and daughter.
Talking about his time at Notre Dame:
Coming in as freshmen, my class was the number one recruiting class in the country; so needless we say we thought our stuff didn’t stink. At the time, Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 every year and always had an opportunity to win a national championship.
My freshmen class of guys were always getting into trouble on campus. If there was something to get into, it probably had something to do with our freshmen class. We all chose to come to a school like Notre Dame because of the popularity of the school, the winning tradition and the exposure. We were the only school at the time with TV contract exclusively with NBC, and we used to call it the Notre Dame Broadcast Company. Now, every school is on TV but back when I was playing in college that was the strength of Notre Dame’s recruiting because your parents could see you no matter where you were from. Because of that, we would get kids from all over.
Coming to a college campus and being a young kid, it’s easy to lose sight of why you are there. For me, I quickly lost sight of why I was there when I almost got kicked out of school because of my academics. I didn’t go to class and I ended up really coming to grips with the fact that I was potentially going to lose football and the privilege of being a Notre Dame student. It was a wake up call for me when the Dean told me that I probably wasn’t going to make it back next semester and that was the first time in two years that I prayed. In my thoughts, I was blind because I didn’t think I should pray if I wasn’t going to do the right thing anyway. It was one of those things that God used to humble me. Sometimes people come to know the Lord at the lowest point. I wish it hadn’t been like that, but for me it was. I was crushed because I put my hope in football. Football defined me and was an idol in my life. When I thought that was going to be taken from me it was something that was devastating.
It was a major wake-up call and I remember making two requests to God. The first was to keep me in school and the second was for a wife. God gave me the second one quicker than the first. From the second I met my wife, I knew she was the one. We got married three months after we met and we’ve now been married for 17 years.
At that point in my life, my dad pretty much disowned me out of anger and disappointment because he questioned how I could get married and have the responsibility to do something like that when I could barely stay in school. My teammates, coaches and pretty much everyone close to me in my life was against it. God wasn’t against it. God knew that she was the woman for me and she made me a better person.
She pushed me and I began to develop good study habits and worked hard. I actually made the Dean’s List the semester after we got married. I know that it wasn’t anything in me, but it was God in His grace moving in me to even be able to do that. I give all the glory to Him.
Talking about the topic of purpose in Game Plan for Life:
I was living a life without purpose because I thought football was my purpose and that was what I was defined to do. Football was just a platform that God wanted me to use to reach out to people that I may not be able to reach without it. It wasn’t until I came into a relationship with God that I began to know what my real purpose was. My wife and I gave our lives to Christ right before I was drafted in the first round by Jacksonville. I wouldn’t be here now if I wasn’t saved going into the NFL because there are so many temptations that come with the life of a professional athlete.
God had a much bigger purpose for my life than football. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and my job is to tell others about Him.
Challenges of raising a daughter:
It was my third year in the NFL when Kennedy was born, and it has been awesome. When you bring a child into this world it is such a gift. Your whole perspective changes and you realize how much responsibility it takes to be a parent because you are responsible for this life that God has entrusted you with. I want to be able to give her eternal insight and who she is in Christ.
One thing that a lot of parents do, and it is one thing that has been passed down from generation to generation, is not building their kids up. There is a lot of negativity and it might be seen as a way to help your kid and in actuality you have to be careful with the words that you use. The Bible says that life and death is in the power of the tongue. It is amazing because there are statistics that show it takes 10 positive words to erase one negative word. I remember things that my dad told me or something my mom told my sister and me, and we still have those triggers and thoughts of some of those negative words even now as an adult. I think this new generation in Christ is called to speak life into our kids even when we are reprimanding them or disciplining them.
For me, sometimes those habits of how my parents raised me will get passed onto my daughter in my tone of voice or the words that I chose. I can get pretty angry at things that Kennedy may do, but I have to be conscious of even in that moment to encourage her even while I am correcting her. I can still do it in an encouraging way and speak life into her.
Talking about his favorite Redskins moment:
Beating the Cowboys has always been a highlight! There was a game we played at Cowboys Stadium where we had an unbelievable comeback. Mark Brunell was the quarterback and Santana Moss caught two long touchdown passes, which was the icing on the cake.
Also, having the opportunity to go to the playoffs during Coach Gibbs’ second tenure. I felt like we could have won the Super Bowl if Carlos Rogers would have caught that interception against the Seattle Seahawks! Nevertheless, the 2005 season was a great run that started back in the tenth or eleventh game of the season where we had to go 5-0 to make the playoffs. After 11 games in the season, we had to “go 5-0 or we don’t go.”
We had some tough opponents in front of us including the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and ended the season with the Philadelphia Eagles. We beat all those teams and went to the playoffs.
It was a great run that started when Coach Gibbs came in the locker room right before the first game that we had to win in order to have a chance of making the playoffs and spoke to our team. Before Coach walked in, everyone in the locker room was already talking about leaving and packing up for the off-season, and he changed the whole atmosphere when he started talking about his faith and believing that we could do it. Coach said that it didn’t matter what the media or anyone on the outside says, but as long as the people here in the Redskin facility believe that’s all that matters. Even though some guys were still hesitant to go all in, all Coach said was that we had to win one. Just win one and then we win the second one. As we started winning and the momentum continued to build, when we won that third game guys were looking around and saying, “Hold on, we can really do this thing!”
We played our first playoff game that season in Tampa and it was a great, physical game. I actually broke my arm that game and it was a tragic year for me personally because I knew that injury would have a major affect on me going into the following year. It was a definite test of faith for me because it affected a lot of nerves in my arm and I knew that was an injury that could have ended my career in the NFL.
That was definitely the most serious injury I’ve ever had where football was an afterthought because the pain was so intense. It was a serious break that dealt with nerves, and I had to have surgery to put two titanium plates in my arm. It took about a year to make a full recovery. Again, it was just another test of faith for my family and me. I couldn’t have done it on my own without the support of my family, my coaches and my teammates.
Talking about what has kept his marriage strong after 17 years:
Prayer and having a date night set up each week where we just spend time together. It is easy to get so busy with work and the busyness of the day throughout the week that you lose that time. For us, being able to spend quality time together by ourselves is incredibly important. Being able to get away and talk about things and continue to cultivate our relationship has been crucial for us as a couple.
Marriage is a choice. You know you love that person but we are called as husbands to treat our wives the way Christ treated the church. Christ came to serve and He came to show the world that true Kingship is found in humility. We have to love our wives the same way, and that requires us to serve and to serve selflessly. I am still learning to do that and trying to continue showing her my love not only in words but also in deeds.
Talking about being a Christian among professional athletes:
It’s hard to witness to a professional athlete because they think they have everything. If they want something they can just go out and buy it. We live in a world where we believe we can fix most things with money. You get a young guy who has never had much and all of a sudden he comes into a wealth of money and the last thing he wants to hear is you need to humble yourself and give your life to Christ. This sport is the opposite of that and teaches you to be aggressive and competitive, and a lot of guys have a lot of pride because of it.
In the same aspect, I think the best thing you can do and the thing that speaks volumes about who you are is the way that you live your life. At some point in time, what those guys think makes them happy is going to fail them. That is when they come and ask questions because they have seen the way that you live and it looks different. Really, it is up to you to have that opportunity because that opportunity is going to come and when it does be ready. Be ready to share the love of Christ with them and take your own personal experience of what has happened in different situations and how you put your faith in God. More then anything it is leading by example.
Once you have that opportunity to talk to a person about what true happiness and contentment is, and that the thing they are searching for is never going to be filled until you have that relationship with Jesus Christ. That is true joy that only He can give. The good thing about the locker room is it gives you the opportunity to build personal relationships with guys. It is not just a one-time thing because you are with these guys probably more than you are with your own family during the season. Building a relationship gives you the opportunity to build trust.
Talking about what he’s up to now:
I have been doing a lot of stuff in ministry and just trying to serve in any way I can. My heart is geared towards helping others who are in a pit, or dealing with issues from homelessness to sex trafficking, or even just going down to the rescue mission in the inner city to help impact youth. That has been my call this year just to serve in my church and spend time with my family and my daughter.