NEW ORLEANS (BP)–“When the Lion of Judah sweeps us off our feet, all we have is the cross of Christ,” said Danny Wuerffel, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints football team, during a Dec. 2 chapel service at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Winner of the 1996 Heisman as college football’s top player, Wuerffel frequently has been in the spotlight over the past two years, using the visibility to share his love for Christ.
Kneeling in prayer with teammates before and after games and thanking God for every touchdown are among the ways he lets fans know his accolades go to God.
Wuerffel often speaks to groups of college students through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But as he thought about delivering a message at a seminary, a place where ministers are trained, he said, “I was going to come in here and bang on some things and be a prophet,” like the prophets of the Old Testament who criticized the religious leaders of their day.
“I wanted to be this impressive speaker, but instead God wants me to be humble so you can see him,” Wuerffel said.
Having considered talking about Isaiah 29:13, “They … honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” and the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14, Wuerffel said God humbled him when he began to pray for an illustration to tie his thoughts together.
As Wuerffel prayed, “my eyes were open,” he said. “(I saw) I wasn’t the tax collector. I was the Pharisee.”
He said he originally planned to ask, “Where is our security — in faith and God, or in justification by comparison or competition with others as ministers?”
He said his security could be based in the many abilities and blessings God has given him, and he could look “at other guys on my team, justifying myself by comparison.”
However, the true test of humility, he said, is this: How do you act when someone treats you that way? He realized he didn’t like it when veteran New Orleans Saints players treated him, a rookie, in ways that made him feel humiliated.
After praying through what he would say in the NOBTS chapel service, “I felt like Job and wanted to say, ‘My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,'” as stated in Job 42:5-6.
“The experience was pretty humbling,” he said. “I felt like my feet were kicked out from underneath me.”
Like a lion drags his prey into the wilderness, Wuerffel said, “God was dragging me to the Lamb of God who died for my sins.”
As he faced his own sins, “the healing, nurturing love of God poured out on me. I relearned the gospel and how much God is just in love with me.” He said he wanted to be like the Apostle Paul, who was going to boast only in the cross of Christ and like the Apostle John who wanted only to be known as the one Jesus loves.
Recruited last spring as quarterback for New Orleans’ NFL team, the Saints, Wuerffel said, “There are a lot of guys on the team who are broken and unhappy. There’s a great ministry there.
“What I’ve come to love about New Orleans is the people. The more I have been here and seen, the more it’s grown on me. I’ve learned to love it more each day,” he said.
Featured in a Nov. 2 article in New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Wuerffel is reported to have “ordered Bibles for teammates, passed out religious literature and started a group responsible for reading Scripture daily, with more than half the team’s 53-man roster participating.”
Wuerffel distinguished himself on the football field during his college years at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
A journalism and public relations major, Wuerffel maintained a high grade-point average and actively participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Winner of numerous awards and honors, Wuerffel was the only quarterback in NCAA division 1-A history to rank in the top four in all career passing categories: passing efficiency, percentage of passing touchdowns, passing yards per attempt, touchdown passes, passing yards per completions, ratio of TD passes per interception, ratio of average completions per TD pass and ratio of average attempts per TD pass.
Eric Grizzle & Debbie Moore contributed to this story.