Brad Lau doesn’t swear. He wouldn’t think of watching an inappropriate movie. While other guys listen to heavy metal in the locker room, Brad sings hymns he’s learned in ward choir. He never drinks or smokes, and he always minds his mother.
Oh, and he also happens to be a six-foot, 240-pound, all-state fullback who benches 350 and rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 49 touchdowns during his high school career in Boise, Idaho.
Of all Brad’s statistics, perhaps the most noteworthy is “0.” That’s the number of times he’s used profanity since he started playing football.
A football player who never swears? It may be hard to believe, but Brad’s teammates say it’s true.
“When Brad gets mad on the field, he just shakes his head,” says quarterback Mitch Rasmussen. “He just turns red—beet red,” says tight end Mike Kelley. “He might look like he’s close to swearing, but he never lets it go,” says offensive lineman Nate Black. “He just unleashes a huge hit,” says strong safety Terry Deeble with a knowing grin.
And when Brad takes a hit? “I just say ‘ouch,’” says Brad, shrugging his enormous shoulders.
How does Brad refrain from swearing even in a high-tension sport in which cussing is so common?
For one thing, he avoids profanity in the music, television, and movies he chooses. “Obviously, I can’t go around and control what people say, but I can control what I watch and listen to.”
Although he doesn’t control others, Brad does try to have a positive influence in whatever environment he is in. “In the weight room, kids’ll play trashy CDs. I’ll turn it to something else, and some guys’ll say, ‘Why can’t we listen to this?’ If I ask nicely, ‘Can we listen to something else for a while?’ then they will.”
“When Brad picks the music, they’ll always give him a hard time, but it’s all in good fun,” says Terry.
And in the locker room, especially notorious for filthy talk and music, Brad says he likes to sing hymns.
A football player who sings hymns in the locker room? “Not only that, when Brad starts singing, other guys join in,” says Mitch.
Laughing, Brad recalls, “I remember once after practice I was singing, ‘How Great Thou Art.’ I guess other religions know it too, because all of a sudden even all the non-LDS guys started joining in. I was really surprised!”
So don’t people think Brad’s a little … well, strange?
“Actually, everyone looks up to Brad,” says Steve Warren, a Catholic teammate from high school. “He sets a good example. Everybody just considers him a friend.”
“Guys will tease him a lot, but then they’ll say, ‘Man, I wish I could be like that,’” says Mitch. “They respect him because they see someone who doesn’t back down.”
“And he’s nice to everyone,” says Terry. “I’ve never heard him say a mean thing.”
Perhaps that’s another key to Brad’s abstaining from profanity. He’s won people’s respect, so people respect his standards when they’re around him.
Says Steve, “When I’m around other people, every once in a while a swear word slips out. But when I’m around Brad, I just don’t do it.”
Mike nods his head in agreement. “There were even a couple of times when the coaches were swearing and just started apologizing right away. They weren’t even looking at Brad; they just knew he was around somewhere!”
Brad says when people do swear around him, he uses good-natured humor to encourage them to stop. “I’ll just jokingly say, ‘Heeeeey. Use substitute words!’ I have a good time with everybody.”
“During football season he started telling other players he was going to charge them money for every swear word they said. Some words were worth a quarter, some a dime, and some five cents,” says Steve.
“I didn’t keep track, so I never made any money,” Brad says with a smile.
The answer to why Brad strives to be such an example is probably the biggest key to his success. “I know the Church is true,” he says. “If I have that knowledge, then there’s no reason for me to back down and be timid.
“Why not stand up and support something you know is true? Why not choose the right no matter what anyone else is doing? I’ve set my standards high, and I’m going to live up to them no matter what.”
Maybe you’re thinking, Sure, it’s easy for a star football player to be a strong influence for good. But what about me? Brad has signed on to play for Boise State University after his mission. What will he do when he’s just an unknown freshman?
“It’s going to be harder, obviously, because nobody knows me there yet.” But Brad says he’ll follow the same pattern he did in high school. Brad says this pattern can work for anyone who wants to set an example of using clean language:
Choose music, television, and movies that are free from inappropriate language. “You can control what you watch and listen to.”
Surround yourself with friends who don’t use profanity. “Choose the right friends, and it won’t be a problem.”
Be an example. “If people see that you’re firm in your standards, they’ll respect you. They’ll even help you keep your standards. If you’re easily tempted or overcome, you won’t be as well respected.”
If people around you swear, encourage them to stop. Use humor and kindness. “Stand up and say something. Don’t worry about what people might think. You might even help someone quit.”