IMPACT
12/03/2014 03:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

NFL Player With Former $37.5 Million Contract Leaves Career To Help Feed Needy

While the St. Louis Rams continue to make headlines for their controversial nod to the Ferguson protesters, a former team member has taken up his own social cause on an entirely different field.

In 2012 -- after seven years in the NFL –- Jason Brown was let go from the Rams. Though other teams were interested in signing him, he left his career because he felt he had found a higher calling. Brown went on to become a farmer and to help the hungry with the fruits of his labor, CBS reported.

“My agent told me, 'You're making the biggest mistake of your life,'" Brown told CBS. "And I looked right back at him and I said, 'No I'm not. No I'm not.'"

While Brown, who was considered one of the best centers around, remained undeterred, it’s no wonder his agent was floored with his client’s decision.

In 2005, Brown was drafted to the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth round. He moved onto the Rams in 2009, where he was offered a competitive contract, and started every game but two from 2009 to 2011, according to the News & Observer.

jason brown st louis rams

When he said goodbye to the Rams in 2012, San Francisco, Carolina and Baltimore contacted him about potentially joining their teams, but Brown declined.

Though Brown had no training, he bought an 1,000-acre farm in Franklin County, North Carolina that year and teamed up with some experts to get his mission off the ground, according this his website.

The location was an apt choice considering that North Carolina's food insecurity rate is significantly higher than the national average.

Last year, 14 percent of American households were food insecure. Between 2011 and 2013, 17.3 percent of households in North Carolina experienced the same issue, according to Feeding America.

jason brown nfl
Former NFL player Jason Brown supervises the harvest of sweet potatoes for the needy on Nov. 1.

Brown picked up some tilling tips from YouTube and dubbed his initiative, “FirstFruits Farm,” because he donates the first fruits of every harvest to food pantries.

Brown partnered with Wisdom for Life, a Christian-based ministry, and committed 2013 to “getting the farm back into shape,” he wrote on his website.

jason brown nfl
Trucks are loaded with sweet potatoes on Nov. 1 at Jason Brown's First Fruits Farm near Louisburg, N.C.

He connected with a number of relief groups, including the Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina, and got hands-on help from local farming experts and 600 volunteers, according to his site.

This year he donated more than 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to local pantries.

“When I think about a life of greatness,” Brown told CBS, “I think about a life of service."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Brown walked away from his $37.5 million contract.

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