SAN DIEGO, CA (FR) – The 1988 Superbowl brought a few surprises to the NFL world, and the unprecedented Washington Redskins victory over the Denver Broncos was just one of them. The fact that the first joint pre-game chapel service occurred during the Superbowl festivities was also big news.
Before the game, the Broncos and the Redskins met together for the sole purpose of prayer and spiritual inspiration. About 2,500 people gathered in a San Diego hotel to hear popular Christian radio personality Chuck Swindoll. Redskins cornerback Darrel Green, an outspoken Christian, also gave his testimony. As a result, 15 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ. The Redskins also had their own chapel services the night before the game, in which fifty friends and family members attended.
“We were praying about the Superbowl all year,” said Darrel Green during his talk, “and felt that God really honored us.” After the Superbowl victory, Green also played two quarters in the Pro Bowl game in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The day after the Superbowl win, Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs gave thanks to God for the phenomenal 42-10 win. “The ballplayers believed they were a team of destiny because they honored God this year,” said Brett Fuller, regional director of Champions for Christ – a ministry to athletes sponsored by Maranatha Campus Ministries. Fuller conducted a Bible study with several of the Redskins during the last season, which he said was “unprecedented in NFL circles.”
“For the last two seasons the Redskins had been playing minimal,” said Fuller, “but they have emerged to win the Superbowl.” He added that the men who prayed with him during the season felt that God was going to honor the team in a special way.
It was Darrel Green’s second time to play in the Superbowl. “I just went in and played hard.” During his first Superbowl attempt, the Redskins were defeated. “I had just come from college and it happened so fast,” he related. Since that loss, however, he says he learned to lose and still “be in peace.” But Green was definitely enthusiastic about the recent victory over the Broncos.
Green played a strategic role in taking the Redskins to the Superbowl game in San Diego this year – and he paid a high price for his efforts. During the play-offs, he jumped over his opponent and ran to make a touchdown, in spite of the fact that he was suffering from a painful rib injury. As a result of the sacrificial play, the Redskins won the game and were on their way to the NFL championship. “Some people may have thought I was a nut for making that play,” Green laughed. But looking back now, its obvious that it was worth it all.
Green has now hit his fifth year landmark with the Redskins. “I wouldn’t trade my five years here for anything,” he admitted. “These coaches, these people have built a lot of character in my life.” When Green came to the Redskins, he was considered small by NFL standards. However, his skill at covering Chicago speedster Gault and Minnesota’s Anthony Carter reaffirmed his standing as one of NFL’s better cornerbacks.
Despite his NFL celebrity status, Green makes time to talk to people and has a desire to emulate the characteristics of Jesus Christ. “You wouldn’t think Darrel plays ball at all,” said Green’s wife Jewell in the USA Today interview. “We’re a very spiritual family and everything revolves around that.” When the Redskins flew to Honolulu for the Pro-Bowl, the local newspaper’s society column reported on the activities of players who were carousing among partiers in Waikiki. At that same time, Green was preaching to students at the University of Hawaii about his faith in Jesus Christ.
Although he was dubbed ‘MX Missile’ and ’10 Speed’ as a rookie because of his early prominence – due to his tackling of fast players such as Eric Dickerson and Tony Dorsett – Green insists on giving glory to God for his NFL achievements.
Green insists on giving glory to God for his hurdle over a six-foot-three-inch tackler, for his 52-yard punt return against Chicago, and for his capture of the NFL “Fastest Man” title in 1986 – despite a 105 degree temperature and a virus. “It was a totally spiritual experience, “ Green told USA Today. “If God is for you, who can be against you?”
Before playing professional football, 170-pound, five-foot-eight-inch Green was fighting off attempts to turn him into a track star. Eventually he ran and won Division II national titles in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior at Texas A & I. His time was second in the nation to Carl Lewis. Green also ran the 100 in 10.08 seconds, the 40 in 4.2 seconds, and covered 60 yards in 6.12 seconds.
Green graduated from Houston Jones High School weighing 120 pounds. “My mother, bless her heart, did not want me to play football,” he told USA Today. “My father said I could be the best player out there. But he was concerned about my size.”
After professional football, when most players go back into the closet of obscurity holding onto memories of NFL victories, Green’s confidence is in God’s guidance. “If you’re sincere, it takes no genius to see what God is doing,” he said. Green told USA Today that the most admired man in his life was his pastor, Brett Fuller. His reason for admiring Fuller, he says, is because Fuller is “a good example of a godly man.”
We became friends three years ago,” said Fuller. “I prayed with him at 6 a.m. in the morning once a week, and had a Bible study with him.” Green said when Fuller prayed with him, “it showed me that he was willing to lay down his life for me. I’m following someone who is following something that is eternal.”
Green’s aspiration after playing professional football is to go into the ministry. “I’m in a position where I can touch a lot of hearts, reach a lot of people. I’m a key,” Green said in a USA Today interview before the Superbowl. “And because of all I’ve been given, as much as I’ve been blessed, I have to open a big door.”
Green said that before he met Fuller, he tried his best to be a Christian but was doing it in his own strength. “I was a great guy, but I was also a great phony. Now I’m walking out my commitment to Jesus Christ.” Today, Darrel Green hopes to demonstrate the reason for that commitment to the millions of people who are watching professional football.
Chandler Gailey Testimony
DENVER, CO (FR) – The ‘male athlete’ mindset, in which a man believes he can fight any opponent by ‘toughing it out’ and fighting harder, is a myth, says Denver Broncos Assistant Coach Chandler Gailey.
After serving as assistant coach for the Air Force Academy for two years, and two years at the University of Florida, Gailey said he realized that he was never going to solve all his problems and make all his goals. “I was just trying to do too much by myself,” he said. “You’re not going to beat Satan by yourself. The only way to have victory is with Jesus.” In 1980, he dedicated his life to Christ.
Since that significant year, he coached Troy State University in Alabama, and then made the move to the Denver Broncos. The most important thing in successful sportsmanship, he believes, is commitment. And his primary example of commitment is Jesus Christ. “He was totally committed. He didn’t just go halfway to the cross. In football we function week to week as far as emotions go. If we win, we are heroes; if we lose, we’re hated,” Gailey said. “But I’ve learned that God is always in control.”
After dedicating his life to Jesus Christ, he said he experiences more strength and peace in the face of adversity and problems. “I have more strength to face problems, adversity, and the things that happen in day-to-day life. I’m better able to deal with rude people, people who are trying to con you.”
I have a peace I didn’t have before, and nothing upsets me like it used to. I don’t hate like I used to. I don’t envy like I used to. It is amazing how content I am with what God has given – both blessings and burdens … When the stock market fell, it wasn’t the end of the world.”