By Alan Goforth | Metro Voice
Before the Apostle Paul could write a substantial portion of the New Testament, God had to get his attention in a dramatic way on the road to Damascus. And although writing a book had been on Dan Meers’ bucked list for some time, a life-changing experience was the catalyst for his new book.
“Wolves Can’t Fly” is the story of his 25 years as KC Wolf, the mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs, and the accident that nearly ended his career.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought I would write a book,” Meers said. “I was too busy working and raising three active kids. I never thought about it until I got hurt. Then I decided that if I was ever going to do it, this was the time. I realized I had an opportunity to share not only about being a mascot but about how faithful God is.”
The first 5,000 copies of “Wolves Can’t Fly” sold out quickly, and another 10,000 have been printed. All profits go to the ministry Character That Counts (www.characterthatcountgs.org).
Before the accident, Meers had a colorful career as a mascot for nearly 30 years. After growing up in St. Charles, Mo., he attended the University of Missouri. As Truman Tiger, he was selected the No. 1 college mascot in the nation in 1989. He also had a stint as a backup Fredbird the Redbird before joining the Chiefs.
Game days are only a small part of his workload. Meers has made more than 8,000 public appearances over the years. He has long been known for his pregame antics at Arrowhead and decided to take them to the next level for Military Appreciation Day during the 2013 season.
“The plan for my pregame entrance was to have KC Wolf, dressed in Army fatigues, jump out of the lights at the top of the stadium and zip line down to the field,” he said. “The zip line attached to the lights above the press box on the south side of the stadium. It then stretched all the way across the field to the north side and connected to the huge steel beams that connected another bank of lights. The zip line hung 260 feet above the field.”
As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, he decided to begin the entrance by jumping off the lights on a 20-foot bungee cord. Meers practiced the stunt on the crisp Saturday afternoon of Nov. 23. As soon as he jumped, he knew something was wrong.
“I was supposed to free fall about 20 feet, and then the bungee cord would bounce me back up and I would begin so zip line out over the football field,” he said. “However, instead of falling 20 feet, I fell 75 feet. I hit the seats so hard that I knocked two of them out of the concrete where they were mounted. The bungee pulled me back up, and I traveled 200 feet above the field, hanging from the bungee cord.”
Needless to say, the injuries were extensive and rehabilitation has been a long, painful journey. Meers decided to make something of the unexpected time off.
“When you are going through pain, it’s easy to become self-focused,” he said. “A self-focused world becomes very small, and your problems seem a lot bigger. When you take your eyes off yourself and look around, you realize the world is a lot bigger than just you.”
With nothing but time on his hands, God reminded him about the book.
“Coming off the pain medications really messed up my sleep schedule,” he said. “I was getting maybe four hours of sleep a night and waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning with nothing to do. That’s when I decided to write the book.”
As he thought and wrote in the dead of night, he gained valuable insights into the problem of pain.
“One lesson I learned is that God does have a purpose behind the pain in our lives,” Meers said. “Everyone goes through pain, even if it’s not physical. But he doesn’t allow to go through needless pain.”
He sums up this healing and growing process in two lessons:
- Be a shiner, not a whiner. “Nobody enjoys listening to me complain about my problems and pains. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Complain, and you live alone.”
- Take off the mask. “I was finally able to take off my mask when I realized God loves me just the way I am right now. Even with all of my faults and failures, His love for me will never end.”
Remarkably, Meers was back in costume and on the field for the Chiefs’ home opener last season (minus the aerial stunts). He also shares his story wherever he finds an audience.
Perhaps most importantly, he has learned to count each day a blessing and an opportunity to make a difference.
“While I was driving to the stadium during rehab, I heard a pastor on the radio,” Meers said. “He said that every morning, you wake up and have something to complain about and something to be thankful for. It’s up to you to choose.”
“Wolves Can’t Fly” is available at the website www.characterthatcounts.org. Dan Meers is available for speaking engagements, which can be arranged by contacting Rod Handley through the same website.