Sharif Finch made a promise to his parents, and during the most difficult time of his life he kept it.
Pursuing that promise in 2018, Finch made the roster of the Tennessee Titans after playing at Temple University in Philadelphia. But during training camp, Finch’s father, Gregory, died of a heart attack.
“Losing my dad while trying to make this team as an undrafted rookie was probably the hardest time of my life,” said Finch, 24.
His mother Wendy died of breast cancer in May 2015. Finch, the youngest of 22 children, said losing his father was tough but he never questioned God’s will.
“Adversity is going to come, and you have to persevere through it,” Finch said. “It’s all in God’s hands. God gives the toughest battles to His strongest children.”
Finch said his faith has gotten him through the difficult times.
Believe and follow
“No matter how it may seem, there is life on the other side. This is God’s plan, not yours. Believe in the Lord and follow the path,” Finch said.
Constant prayer, doing things the way God would want him to and reading the Bible daily are all parts of Finch’s routine.
“I talk to the Lord, stay faithful, stay confident and ask God to show me how to do things and live the right way,” he said. “I want to do things the way He would.”
Born in Queens, New York, Finch grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He said he’s been in church all his life and found a faith community with fellow Titans players, attending team Bible studies during the week. Teammates say his spiritual commitment shows.
“You can see that light being shined for sure,” said former Titans teammate Ryan Succop. “It’s a blessing to be on a team where you have that.”
Finch influenced others during his time with the Titans. Another believer on the current Titans roster, defensive tackle Isaiah Mack, said he looks up to Finch.
“He is strong in his faith. I can only look up to that. It makes me want to be like him. He is a very good person and backs up what he says,” Mack said in a 2019 interview with TAB Media.
And Finch is a pretty good example on the field too.
“Sharif is an explosive player. It [was] a wonderful time playing with him,” Mack said. “In pass rushing, he is a huge-effort guy. He is always getting to the ball. Seeing him run to the ball makes you want to run to the ball. It’s contagious.”
With the 2020 NFL season scheduled to kick off Sept. 10 with its traditional Thursday night opener, Finch, a free agent this year, is still hoping to make a roster. He’s worked out with the Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Raiders.
In dedication to his parents, Finch wears two sets of dog tags with their names and pictures and an inscription, “Everything is for you.”
And that promise Finch made?
“I am out here every day trying to persevere and achieve my goals and dreams of being an NFL player and provide for my family,” he said. “I keep my promise to my parents.”
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