Joe Gibbs Goes To Jail

A couple of weeks ago, I as preparing for a service at Lorton Prison outside Washington, D.C. It was late, I was bone tired, and I was having trouble concentrating. I put my pen down and said, "Lord, I don't know if I have the strength to preach tomorrow. I need help." Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was Joe Gibbs, head coach of the Washington Redskins, just home from the Super Bowl. "I understand you're looking for a Redskin to go to prison with you tomorrow," Coach Gibbs said. "Well, they're all in Hawaii, playing in the Pro-Bowl, but would I do?" Would he do--! What a question. So the next day, Joe Gibbs accompanied me to Lorton. The place went wild. He told the inmates all about the Super Bowl. And he told them about something he said is far more important than the Super Bowl. Coach Gibbs started out telling the inmates about his own brush with the law--and with his dad. As a 16-year-old, Joe had borrowed a neighbor's car and hit another child riding a bike. The other child wasn't hurt, but Joe left the scene of the accident. For that he spent a night in a juvenile detention center. But the worst part was having to face his dad. His dad came to the detention center, and was so angry that he ran over to where Joe was sitting, grabbed him by the throat, and the two of them tumbled over backwards. "I tell you, he choked me until my eyes were bulging out," Coach Gibbs recalls. Prison officials had to pull his dad off and calm him down. After telling his story, the coach talked to the Lorton inmates about Jesus Christ, who was arrested, taken prisoner, put on death row, and finally executed. Gibbs talked about sin and responsibility. He told the inmates that the way to real freedom is not by walking out through those prison gates but by committing your life to Jesus Christ. Gibbs looked at the men and said, If just one of you decides to make that commitment, "that would mean, in eternity's value, so much more than the Super Bowl." That hit home with the inmates. They were stunned that the first public appearance Joe Gibbs made after winning the Super Bowl was to come and talk to them in prison. Remember the verse where Jesus tells us to let our light so shine that people will see our good works and glorify our Father, who is in heaven. Well, not everyone can win the Super Bowl, like Joe Gibbs, did. But everyone can do what he did in Lorton Prison: to bring God's truth to light up the dark places of our society--to prisons, slums, hospitals, and everywhere where people are lonely and suffering. You may not ever be a great public figure. But I'll guarantee you this: If you determine to speak God's truth in whatever situation He places you, you will be a bright spot in someone's life. And that counts not just for a football season, or a Super Bowl. As Joe Gibbs put it, That counts for eternity.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary