The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Why a star football player traded NFL career for a tractor

This piece originally aired on November 14, 2014

LOUISBURG, N.C. - At one point number 60, Jason Brown, was one of the best centers in the NFL.

At one point he had a five-year, $37 million contract with the St. Louis Rams.

And at one point he decided it was all meaningless - and just walked away from football.

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

So what could possibly trump the NFL?

103848562.jpg
Jason Brown gets ready for a play against the New England Patriots in 2010.
Elsa, Getty Images

You wouldn't believe.

Jason Brown quit football to be a plain, old farmer -- even though he'd never farmed a day a in his life.

Asked how he learned to even know what to do, Brown said:

"Get on the Internet. Watch Youtube videos."

He learned how to farm from Youtube.

Thanks to Youtube and some good advice from other farmers here in Louisburg, N.C., this week Jason finished harvesting his first, a five-acre plot of sweet potatoes.

"When you see them pop up out of the ground, man, it's the most beautiful thing you could ever see," said Brown. He said he has never felt more successful.

"Not in man's standards," said Brown. "But in God's eyes."

But God cares about the NFL, right? There are people praying to him on the field all the time.

"Yeah, there's a lot of people praying out there," said Brown. "But, when I think about a life of greatness, I think about a life of service."

en1114hartman.jpg
Jason Brown tends to his fields in Louisburg, N.C.
CBS News

See, his plan for this farm, which he calls "First Fruits Farm," is to donate the first fruits of every harvest to food pantries. Today it's all five acres--100,000 pounds--of sweet potatoes.

"It's unusual for a grower to grow a crop just to give away," said Rebecca Page, who organizes food collection for the needy. "And that's what Jason has done. And he's planning to do more next year."

Brown has 1,000 acres here, which could go a long way toward eliminating hunger in this neck of North Carolina.

"Love is the most wonderful currency that you can give anyone," said Brown.

"Are you sure you played in the NFL?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Because I feel like cuddling you right now."

"Don't do that!" he said.

Brown may have left the NFL, but apparently holding is still a penalty.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.