Despite the physical and emotional strain that comes with playing football throughout college and nine years in the NFL, Chad Lewis was able to be home by 5 p.m. each day to spend time with his family. Lewis, his wife and his four kids were able to utilize evenings and days off to spend time together as a family.
An Orem native, principles of the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were prevalent in his home. The fundamentals he learned growing up have helped shape the course of his life.
The beginnings of a career in football
Lewis was raised an avid BYU sports fan, but when his older brother Mike committed to play football at the University of Utah he adapted to love the Ute football team as well.
“I also thought about playing at Utah after my mission,” Lewis said. “But after coming back from my mission I had no desire to go there anymore. I wanted to come to BYU. I loved the atmosphere at BYU.”
Lewis began attending BYU without an idea if he would play sports or not. While at school, he decided to walk on to the track team for high jump. After excelling in that sport for a couple weeks, he decided to do the same thing with football and walk on with the encouragement of a mission companion already on the team.
“I was pumped that there was a football team that stood for something great, more than just football,” Lewis said. “I believed that the school’s Honor Code was one of the things that gave BYU power on the field.”
Keeping priorities straight
Lewis met his wife, Michele Fellows Lewis at BYU. She played volleyball, and Chad played football, which meant little free time to spend together. But when they were able to, they made the best of it.
“Sometimes our dates were going to each others’ games,” Chad Lewis said with a laugh. “Other than that we were trying to squeeze in as much time as possible with each other, even if it was just to do homework or study. It was such a fun semester dating her and juggling everything we had going on.”
The following semester Michele Lewis was graduated, a two-time All-American and had the opportunity to play for the women’s Olympic volleyball team. She decided to marry Chad Lewis instead.
A couple years later Chad Lewis was getting ready to graduate. A recurring topic of conversation throughout those beginning years of their marriage was talk of a professional football career.
Michele Lewis knew life would work out no matter what. “I knew it was a goal of Chad’s to play in the NFL, and I fully supported him in that,” she said. “I was teaching school at the time, and I knew we would be fine if he made it or not.”
Chad Lewis discussed the biggest issue he and his wife had to work out when deciding if the professional league was right for their family.
“We had to take a close look at whether I wanted to play football on Sunday or not,” he said. “The NFL is a business — you play your games almost exclusively on Sunday. We dove into it with faith, and I had to come to grips that it was my profession and the means in which I provided for my family.”
With that mentality the Lewises embarked to Philadelphia, where Chad played for the Eagles from 1997 to 2005, with one year in 1999 with the St. Louis Rams.
The move turned out to be a pleasant experience. The Lewises’ bishop in Philadelphia happened to be a former BYU and NFL football player as well, who helped them adjust and get acquainted with the ward.
Spending quality time with his family was also a major concern when Chad Lewis entered the NFL. His schedule was fairly busy, his days consisting of workouts, several meetings and practices. Luckily, the league takes Tuesdays off, and he was typically done with practice or meetings by 5 p.m. every day.
“I was able to be home every night for dinner. I loved to read scriptures with my kids, too. We tried to make sure every moment was spent together outside of work,” Chad Lewis said.
Michele Lewis was pleased with the efforts her husband made to strengthen their family while playing professional football.
“Chad was a great father and husband through his football years and continues to be now. He loves to spend time with us and has always made time for us,” she said. “We love the outdoors and often went to parks, national sites and national parks throughout our time on the East Coast.”
Sticking to good values
The atmosphere and culture within the football team were quite different than Chad Lewis had been accustomed to at BYU. Luckily, the wholesome principles that had been instilled in him as a young boy made it easy for Lewis to continue making good choices and be an example for others on the team.
“Some people thought my culture was pretty cool; others didn’t as much,” he said. “People had questions, and I was always happy to answer them outside of practice. When I was in the facility I wanted to keep it to football.”
Lee Johnson, a fellow Eagles teammate and former player at BYU, also discussed how his standards helped make him a better person while in the NFL.
“I had decided beforehand how I wanted to be,” Johnson said. “I knew who I was and what I stood for. That really helped me in that environment.”
Words of advice
Chad Lewis feels strongly that the best advice he can give BYU students is to make a habit of reading and studying the Book of Mormon.
“The best advice I was given in college was to read the scriptures every single day,” he said. “Surround yourself with the power of the Book of Mormon and make it an absolute habit. It has been a pillar of strength in my life.”
Chad Lewis is currently the associate athletic director at Brigham Young University. He now has seven kids and serves as the NFL’s ambassador to Southeast Asia, which includes traveling to China, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.