Fathers Day Message from a former Lion/Brown…

What is a father, anyway?
A vitally important part of the family structure – one whose presence can help keep men out of prison, and maybe help those who are already there.
That’s according to a recently-released book co-authored by Bill Glass, the former Browns standout defensive end who played on the 1964 NFL championship team.

Bill Glass
Photo By John H. Reid IIIJust in time for Father’s Day on Sunday, “Champions for Life; The Power of a Father’s Blessing,” was also written by Akron Beacon Journal sports columnist Terry Pluto. The 187-page book, published by Health Communications, sells for $14.95 and is available in all major bookstores.
“The book is the result of my life for the last 33 years, for most of the time since I’ve been out of football,” said Glass, a first-round draft pick of Detroit in 1957 who played with the Lions from 1958-61 and then with Cleveland for seven seasons (1962-68).
A devout Christian for almost all of his life, Glass began his prison missionary work in 1972.
“We took a bunch of athletes into the Marion (Ohio) State Correctional Institute,” Glass said.
That trip has mushroomed into a crusade that sends Glass and his group of former athletes into more than 400 prisons all across the world, per year, where they talk to over 100,000 inmates. It is these trips, and what he has learned from them, that serve as the foundation for his 11 books, especially this one.
“We began observing something in the prisons we were going into,” he said. “It’s that all the inmates had a problem with their father. They loved their mother, but they hated their father.
“When I was a little boy growing up, my father would come into my room at bedtime and sit on the edge of my bed. He would rub my back and tell me how much he loved me and how I was going to do great things. He would even kiss me on the lips.
“I thought every dad was like mine, but I was wrong. To my amazement, I found that these prisoners had fathers who raped them, deserted them, beat them or abused them. A father’s impact, as far as the whole psyche of these prisoners is concerned, is the underlying reason for them getting into crime.”
As a young man and then an NFL player, Glass was completely different from these inmates.
“I grew up as the All-American boy,” he said. “The worst thing that ever happened to me was that I got a speeding ticket one time.”
It made him an exemplary citizen and, at the same time, he said it turned him into a “self-righteous” person. He didn’t understand prisoners and wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, he didn’t even think about them. They were, to him, just bad people.
But through his ministerial work once he retired from football – “I finished my studies in the seminary, but I’m not an ordained minister,” Glass said – he was drawn into the prisons and the plight of the men there.
When he saw the issues they had with their fathers, and he looked at his own situation, he realized the importance for “boys” of all ages to have a dad.
“There was a great vacuum created in my life when my own dad died when I was 14,” Glass said.
Something then happened that changed Glass’ life and steered him toward the eventual writing of this book.
“My high school football coach became my surrogate dad,” Glass said. “When he died, my surrogate dad became a man who is now 89 years old.
“I’m on my third dad now. You see, even at my age (he will turn 70 in two months), you need a dad. Everybody needs someone they can look up to as a father figure.”
Trying to help those prisoners – to be a surrogate father to them if he could – became Glass’ role in life.
“It’s what I was put on this earth to do,” he said.
Glass believes this so strongly that, in his present mindset, he would probably become offended if you remembered him as just a former star football player – he still holds the Browns’ team record for most sacks in a season with 14.5 in 1965 – and not also a humanitarian who is trying his best to give back to his fellow man.
“I had a great time last year when they had the 40th anniversary party for the 1964 Browns championship team,” said Glass, who now lives just outside Dallas. “When I got home, I was really reveling in those memories.
“But then I got to thinking about things. We had a room in our house where my wife (Mavis) had displayed all my athletic trophies and awards on shelves and everything. I went in there, took all of those things, put them into a big box and packed them away.
“I can’t stand it when people live in the past. You’ve got to live in the present. And what I’m doing now is imminently more important than anything I did in professional football.”


1 Comment »

  1. Kodiak Said:

    This man defineately has his priorities in the right place.
    Thanks for the post, Jim.


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