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It's never too late to make a U#x2013;turn

Faith turns life around for former Green Bay lineman

First he bent a steel bar with his teeth and then he rolled a frying pan into the shape of a burrito.

His point was that you can change things, like he did with his life.

Greg Jensen, a onetime Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, told his story Tuesday night at Century High School. It's a story that, in his own words, was wrought with bad decisions until he straightened out his life.

As a youngster he had a severe learning disability and he eventually got involved with alcohol and steroids; he got his wife-to-be Karen pregnant when the two of them were 18 years old; and he attempted suicide.

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"I started with this one cup of beer at a party and turned into a binge alcoholic," he said. "I loved the taste of alcohol. I'd get drunk and pass out, then I'd hop in my car and drive home and not remember how I got there.

"Then thinking I needed to be bigger and stronger so I'd have a better shot at pro football, I started to use anabolic steroids. I took pills like candy and I'd stab a needle into my butt and shoot up."

While this was happening, he said he took the life of his future wife away by getting her pregnant at such a young age.

"An irresponsible thing to do," he said.

Finally, after a failed tryout with the New York Jets in New York, he became so despondent, he said, that when he returned to his home in Wisconsin he took out a deer rifle, shoved the barrel into his mouth and put his finger on the trigger.

"Then an angel appeared in my life," he said. "It was Karen. She walked into the room, with tears streaming down her face. I realized she loved me with no strings attached. It was unconditional love. She took the gun away from me.

"I accepted Jesus Christ at that moment and that turned my life around."

He went on to play briefly for the Packers (in 1987), which he said was a lifelong dream of his. He still conducts Packers football camps. He never played college football after blowing out a knee as a freshman at Wisconsin-River Falls. His route to the NFL was through semipro football.

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Jensen, who was a staff member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for nine years, spends a good deal of his time telling his story at schools, churches and even prisons. He was in Rochester on behalf of FCA.

"My message is that you can hit rock bottom like I did and make a U-turn," he said, "but more importantly, don't make bad decisions like I did. Say no to drugs and alcohol, treat girls and women with respect. Make family important in your life."

yoBob Brown is the executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at brown@postbulletin.com

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