A former NFL quarterback in Oklahoma on Friday for a prison ministry event talked about the night the Lord grabbed hold of his heart for good.
Joe Theismann, former Washington Redskins quarterback and NFL analyst for ESPN, told of his unforgettable evening of pain and glory during the 2013 “Breakfast of Champions” at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City.
The event was held to raise funds and promote the Oklahoma City “Weekend of Champions” set for April 4-6.
As part of the prison ministry, church volunteers, athletes and entertainers will visit prisons throughout the state to share the Gospel.
The weekend is part of the Bill Glass Champions for Life international evangelistic prison ministry.
Ron Murray, Oklahoma coordinator, said about 14 prisons will be targeted. He said the ministry effort will expand into schools this year with a program called “Champions for Today,” with athletes and other adults encouraging students to make positive life decisions.
Murray, who lives in Norman, said Theismann came to motivate volunteers and supporters for the weekend of ministry that lies ahead.
Theismann, saying he knows firsthand how the Lord can change a person's life, talked about the night that ultimately ended his football career.
In addition to setting numerous records, Theismann led the Redskins to win the Super Bowl in 1982. In November 1985, as the Redskins battled the New York Giants, he suffered a compound fracture of his leg after being sacked.
Theismann said he remembers being wheeled out of the stadium with more than 50,000 people giving him a standing ovation. He said he learned soon enough that his career as an NFL star was over.
“I knew I could do a lot of things but I knew I could never, ever play football,” he said.
Theismann said the Lord told him He had something else He wanted him to do: spread the Gospel message.
“The Lord will bless you with all your gifts, but they may not be on your time frame. It really lets us know that we are on His time,” he said.
Theismann said aiding others is one of the most important choices a person makes in life.
“I admire so much those of you who have chosen to enter into people's lives. I know it's a conscious effort,” he said.
“Bill Glass is reaching into people's lives to say ‘you can do something different,'” Theismann said.
Theismann joked about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team's October 2012 defeat of the University of Oklahoma Sooners in Norman. He is a 1971 Notre Dame graduate who famously quarterbacked for the Irish.
Gov. Mary Fallin told the crowd she shared her faith testimony with inmates during a Weekend of Champions event when she was lieutenant governor. She thanked Theismann for visiting Oklahoma and said she was grateful to Murray, his wife, Rita, and volunteers who have participated in the prison ministry over the years.
Glass encouraged participants to serve others whenever they are given the opportunity.
“I see people who have real problems, and they go to save others and they save themselves,” he said.
How to help
Weekend of Champions
• Who: Volunteers from area churches.
• When: April 4-6.
• Where: Prisons throughout
• Registration: www.