When Cory Procter walked into a room, it was “Like, I’m in charge of my world, type of thing,” he says. “My background, my stature…it was hard for me to listen to anything you have to say.” So, walking into Milestone Church in Keller, Texas for the first time, not wanting to be there, he remembers his attitude, “I didn’t want to talk to anybody and I didn’t talk to anybody.”
How did this large, loud, commanding presence of a guy go from that attitude to where he is today, “My prayer is, ‘God, place your hand on what I am doing.’ I am inching along and seeking His will.”?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Cory was born in Washington state. His mother was devout in the Mormon faith while his father was, as Cory puts it, “God is real. Go buy some land.” His dad attended one of Cory’s speaking engagements in Seattle and afterwards said, “Good show, son.” Cory says, “It wasn’t a show, but ok.” His parents divorced when Cory was nine years old and of necessity, they moved frequently. Cory attended seven different schools, five of which were elementary schools.
Finally, in the 7th grade, they moved for the final time to Gig Harbor, Washington. Cory was always a big, chubby kid walking around school, and sports had not been a major part of his life. T-Ball and soccer as a youngster was about it. One day a big guy, who was known as a trouble maker, approached him in the hall. Cory wanted to avoid him but couldn’t. The guy said, “Hey, you’re a big guy. You should come and play football.”
This was his first major life change and it began happening fast. Sports provided Cory an environment to grow and learn positive life values and experience positive voices in his life. The divorce was still fresh on his and his two brothers’ hearts, and they had to fend for themselves at home. His dad worked all the time and his mom worked three jobs to make ends meet. Cory looks back on these early years and says, “God was orchestrating some bigger plan right there.”
Cory has great respect for the coaches that have been in his life. “The coaches’ voices in my life helped me turn and set me on a good path. And I ended up being pretty good at the game.”
One of the men that made an early impression on him was his high school wrestling coach, Raul Ancira. “He was a short, little jacked-up, Greek dude. He called me ‘Corus.’ His pep talks made no sense at all, but there was a love behind it that you knew about. We’d all laugh at him, but everyone loved coach. He cared about me a ton. And so did his football coaches. That meant so much to me.”
Another growing phase for Cory was his college football days. He received a scholarship to the University of Montana and then began making decisions on his own and separating himself from the crowd. There were some trials here also, especially when a coaching change happened and “I didn’t gel with the second coach as I had with the first one.”
Cory was drafted by the Detroit Lions and his six-year National Football League career began. Immediately there was major culture shock that he realizes he needed. “I felt like a fish out of water because for the first time I was the minority in the room. That forced me to grow.”
Cory was with Detroit through Thanksgiving of 2005. “We got killed on Thanksgiving Day and Steve Mariucci was let go. The next Tuesday night around 9:00, my agent called and said that the Dallas Cowboys wanted to sign me off the practice squad.”
In Dallas, Cory played under head coaches Bill Parcells in 2006 and Wade Phillips from 2007-2009. He remembers, “Wade Phillips was an awesome man, loved him. Loved Parcels also, they were just polar opposite coaches.”
Cory’s final NFL season would be with the Miami Dolphins. There were more challenging times during his last two years in the league. “I let some of the politics get to me. I was taking this ‘me against the world’ attitude. Meanwhile, I’ve got Megan coming into my life and it was a bad attitude time. I was fighting a lot. Fighting in practice and fighting with my coaches. I was really selfish, but not realizing that I was being selfish in the process.”
Then during a Thursday night game against Chicago, Cory blocked down on a linebacker and the lights went out. The career-ending injury ruptured his patellar tendon and would require multiple surgeries, infections and months of immobility.
Looking back on it all, Cory believes this was God’s way of preparing him for marriage. “I was engaged to my fiancé, but it was all about myself. Thank God she said ‘yes.’” Megan also believes this was all in God’s plan. Cory had never had to lean on her for anything. It was all about him.
But now, he was on the couch for a year and he would be forced to rely on her for everything. She had to take care of him during his rehabilitation. “She became a legitimate partner now,” Cory says.
The wedding was planned around the 2010 Super Bowl in Dallas. It was shortly after one of the many knee surgeries, with an antibiotic IV in Cory’s arm, because the knee had gotten another infection. The week of the wedding Cory had just started walking again. The leg was atrophied from sitting on the couch for a year, and extremely sore as he began to use it again.
They were married now, and it would be another year on the couch and enduring more surgeries and struggling with infections. Cory boldly says, “God was preparing a spiritual family the whole way.”
They spent some time in New Jersey while training and in rehab. “God put some of the most amazing people in our life there. We needed that because football was over.” They experienced love from these friends at a very difficult time. Cory says, “That’s when God began to manifest His presence.”
Megan and Cory moved to Trophy Club, Texas and Cory became the top sales representative for Kill Cliff sports beverage company. He was still restless and finding his way after football, uncertain of which direction to proceed.
Cory and Megan were blessed with a wonderful daughter they named Grace. But great disappointment and trial would come into this couple’s life. Cory’s nephew Evan, the son of his younger brother, was diagnosed with a brain tumor after his first birthday. This little guy was adored, of course, and Cory affectionately called him “Big E.” He passed away shortly afterwards, and this caused much strife in the family. There was a lot of anger and Cory admits, “I was ticked off at God.”
One day a friend’s wife invited Megan to church. Cory says, “God will use women in our lives to challenge us.” Megan threw down the gauntlet, “I’m going to the 11:00 service; you can come if you want.” She walks away, and Cory said, “That challenged me! I thought, ‘You know, I am the man of this house!’”
Finally, he agreed to go, and they entered Milestone Church’s worship service that Sunday morning: Cory, Megan and Grace. During that worship service God did an amazing thing that would be the next major step in Cory’s journey. As he sat there, Cory was overwhelmed by a vision of “Big E” sitting on the Lord’s lap.
“There were no words, but I had this overwhelming feeling of, ‘I got him. He’s alright.’” Cory began to immediately choke back tears of relief and joy and he says, “He put that in my head and it was just enough to bring the wall down and bring me back and listen to the message.” That started a progression that would radically change Cory and set him on the path of walking with God and serving Christ.
Growing up Mormon, but not ever being very active, Cory knew that he didn’t believe their doctrine. This caused more division in the family and Cory became very protective of his brother and family.
As they returned to church each week, Cory began to listen and hear and understand Biblical values that he had found so precious from childhood. “Those are the things I started hearing and agreed with.” They began to get involved in small group sessions and building relationships with others. He felt encouraged to think, and Cory began opening up and sharing during the segments.
Being invited to a men’s leadership development class was a tremendous step for Cory. This is where natural leaders are identified and nurtured. So, there Cory was, “a big, loud, cumbersome guy,” as he describes himself. The influence factor was there, as a former NFL player. This was all in Cory’s wheelhouse and he began to seriously plug in.
They began studying John Maxwell’s work and Cory loved it, especially learning the twenty-one laws of leadership. He wanted more, and God was in control now. He began seeing the impact all of this was having on his family and in this group is where Cory made his commitment to Jesus Christ.
Cory’s heart is now about sharing and helping and encouraging others. His first time to speak was at Canton Foursquare Church. Pastor Adam Henderson told him, “That was powerful. Now put some Scripture with it and it will be great.”
Cory remembers, “Suddenly a lightning bolt of terror rolls through me!” (This is the guy that isn’t afraid of anything.) Pastor Adam’s best man in his wedding is a lead pastor in Washington state, just 5 minutes from Cory’s brother’s house. He was invited to speak at both services there and that has led to reconciliation with his brother and rejoicing with him and his wife in their expanding family of twin daughters.
Cory is excited about how God is leading his life. His speaking venues have brought new relationships into his life and he continually receives blessings along the way, such as when a buddy from Atlanta called and told him, because of Cory’s influence, he had gone to church and made his commitment to follow Christ.
Cory’s heart now is to speak to as many people as he can, sharing his story and bringing encouragement to as many lives as he can. I would encourage any organization to schedule Cory for your upcoming event. He will be a tremendous blessing for you and your group.
Please visit his website at www.coryprocter.com