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He ministered to ‘America’s Team’

EULESS, Texas (BP)–Hundreds of people, including dozens of players and representatives from Dallas’ professional sports teams, crowded into First Baptist Church in Euless Nov. 6 to honor the life and legacy of longtime Dallas Cowboys chaplain John Weber.

Weber, 59, a deacon at FBC Euless, served as the Cowboys team chaplain for more than two decades. He died Nov. 1 in Dallas following a heart attack, and he was remembered by his family, friends and those he served as a gentle man with an eternal mission.

“John was a chaplain, a deacon, a staff member for Athletes in Action, a father, husband and grandfather,” said John Meador, the Euless church’s senior pastor. “We are all here because we’ve been touched by John. We will never be the same.”

The two-hour service included current and former Dallas Cowboys players and legendary football broadcaster Pat Summerall, who called Weber his best friend.

“God must have been very proud last Thursday when John came to take his seat in heaven next to Him, because He never made one better than John,” Summerall said.

In addition to working with the Cowboys through five head coaches, Weber also served the local Arena Football League team, the Dallas Desperados, the Major League Baseball Texas Rangers and local businesses in the Dallas area.

He also taught a Sunday School class at FBC Euless, touching and encouraging everybody he met.

“I don’t think you realize what greatness you have in front of you before he’s gone,” Cowboys All-Pro defensive lineman Greg Ellis said. “I don’t think you’ll know how important John was to the world we live in.”

Weber, working under the Athletes in Action pro sports ministry umbrella, conducted weekly Saturday chapel services for the Cowboys during the NFL season, but also counseled the players, coaches and team personnel on a regular basis, interacting with the millionaire superstars and the lowest-paid team employees.

The nearby team complex was nearly empty as the Cowboys’ personnel came to pay tribute to Weber and his unique ministry in the life of one of sports’ highest-profile franchises.

At one point during the service, one speaker asked every professional athlete impacted by Weber’s ministry to stand, and a wave if players in all sports standing in silent tribute crossed the large auditorium.

One of those who came to thank Weber for his service and eternal impact was Dallas’ starting quarterback Tony Romo.

“He was never judgmental, he just made people feel good and that’s rare in this world today,” Romo said.

Ellis, who is into his 10th year with the Cowboys, said Weber treated everyone he came into contact with the same.

“He was a man of integrity — he treated all men the same, from a rookie to a 10-year veteran. He said in one of his last chapels, we should all be of good cheer and that’s what we’re doing today,” Ellis said.

While emphasizing he was not a trained preacher, “just” a Christian, Ellis continued the theme often spoken during the funeral of urging those in attendance to have the same spiritual salvation certainty that Weber had.

“I just know that Christ is on one side and man is on the other, and there is a gulf in between, with Jesus as the bridge,” Ellis said. “Make sure that your eggs are in the right basket. To me, Jesus Christ is the real stuff.”

Ellis also made an emotional presentation of an actual game ball used by the Cowboys in their Sunday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

“This ball has a small X on it which means it’s the real deal. The ball is worn and has battle scars on it, but it serves its purpose just like John.”

Ellis made the first presentation of the ball in the Cowboys locker room after Sunday’s victory over the Eagles and also presented it to Weber’s wife Carol at the funeral.

James T. Draper Jr., a former FBC Euless pastor and well-known leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, compared the work of John Weber to another famous John in the Bible.

“Two-thousand years ago, John the Baptist came to testify to the light of Jesus. Now 59 years later another John [Weber] came to testify for the Savior.

“Who is going to be saved through this service and John’s life and example? Who is going to get serious for God through seeing John? Will it be you?” Draper asked.

Summerall closed the service, which included a video tribute, by reading a poem titled, “Leaving a Legacy,” written by Weber this summer, which concluded by saying, “When the end comes, only one thing really matters and escapes the grave … only a good name matters.”

“Nobody ever had a better name than John Weber, and that’s better than silver or gold,” Summerall said.
Art Stricklin, a writer in Plano, Texas, wrote this story for the Southern Baptist Texan, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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  • Art Stricklin