Rubbing shoulders with professional athletes and various sports figures has been part of life for Roman Gabriel III, the president of Sold Out Ministries and radio host. For the Biblical Recorder, Gabriel has interviewed a variety of personalities – from the NFL’s Tony Dungy to NASCAR’s Blake Koch. Each of his interviews focus on faith, family and how athletes use their sports platform to share Jesus and present a positive message to others. For the past 19 years Gabriel, who is the son of a former NFL star quarterback, – and a former pro QB himself – has covered Super Bowl week for both secular and faith-based media outlets. This year, the Biblical Recorder – along with American Family Radio and a few other supporters – partnered with Gabriel while he was in New Orleans for seven interview packed days. For this article, we turned the tables on Gabriel, who usually asks the questions. Gabriel shares his take on the week, the players and why the Super Bowl is similar to an annual Baptist meeting. Below are excerpts from the interview, which was edited for clarity, brevity and length.
Q: For those of us who have never been to the Super Bowl, give us a glimpse of what it’s like through your eyes. How did it go?
A: For me, I measure the week on our impact for the Lord. It went great. You have two teams – the Ravens and the 49ers. There were so many story lines. And many of those story lines were faith and family based. So that’s right up our team’s alley.
It is a spectacular thing. Sometimes you have a tendency to take it for granted if you’ve been there. But I can remember the first year I was there. If you’ve ever taken your kids to Disney Land or Disney World for the first time … [and] they’ve only seen Mickey Mouse on TV … it’s that kind of excitement when you go the first time. When you’ve grown up with football since you were one-year-old like me, and you knew players that have played from my Dad’s era and then I played in 80s era, … you’re absolutely blown away by the royalty of the NFL coming together. … It would be like going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a week and having everyone that’s ever been inducted and you being a music person. … This is like the Hall of Fame on steroids.
Special to the BR
Roman Gabriel III, left, interviews Sean Considine of the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.
Q: What does a typical week look like for you at the Super Bowl?
A: We come in on Monday night. We get our credentials, and we get checked in the media center. We have a team of five – myself, producer, cameraman, another onsite cameraman and then a full-time photographer. … It is kind of like the Baptist convention getting people together. [It’s] where you can see players who you played with. [It’s] where people are able to reminisce about great Super Bowls of [the] past and players that have played in the game. [It’s] where radio stations can talk to them about the game and about the things they want to talk about. It’s beautiful for us because we’re able to target guys that are faith and family oriented, that are character oriented. [We] talk to them a lot about how they use their platform for what they do. So it really is a 24-hour, seven-day … coming-out party for the NFL. Everybody comes down to celebrate a great year in the NFL and to cap it off Sunday with a Super Bowl game.
Q: How many people did you interview while you were in New Orleans?
Probably over 100. … You can only imagine how difficult it would be to get a hold of premier NFL players through their agents throughout the year, to try to set up radio opportunities or film opportunities or Internet opportunities. I’ll get a year’s worth of material [at the Super Bowl]. … You have entertainers. You have movie actors. You have musicians. … Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medalist, was in the locker room with the Ravens. We interviewed him. He’s friends with a lot of the Ravens because he’s from Baltimore. You’ll see a lot of movie stars there because they’ll … come in to promote movies or a book that they’ve written. … I talk to a lot of people who cover sports that are there. … Very few people know that the Super Bowl is just the end of a very long week of promotion, a long week of having the opportunity to gather and have fellowship. … The average ticket price for a game like this is about $4,000 dollars, so this is definitely a corporate event. This is not something mom and dad can bring their kids to. It’s corporations and sports mixing for the benefit of making money. … Our goal all week long is to get these [athletes and others] to open up about their faith, about their families and about how their career – and the career that they had – has turned into allowing them to have a platform that’s even greater today after … playing.
Q: What were some of the highlights of the week for you?
A: I had a chance to chat with [John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens,] for a moment. … As he was leaving [after the Super Bowl], he stopped and put his arm around me. … He said … “[I] just wanted to let you know we appreciate what you guys [in Christian media] do.” And I thought that was really special. … The other story was Michael Oher, [whose story is captured in] the movie The Blind Side. Michael plays right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. [He] comes from a foster situation, had no parents … and of course the Tuohy’s … took him in. [They] provided that strong parental acknowledgement and encouragement to him. I just asked him, “What would you tell other kids that are in your situation?” And he said, “… Sometimes you have to decide for yourself that you’re going to make good decisions, even if you don’t have good people around you to help you in that. I just decided that I wanted to do the right thing. And I also know that God has blessed me greatly with my foster parents, [and] to be drafted in the NFL after everything I have been through and to be sitting here.” … That’s what makes football and sports such a great thing. It teaches so many biblical lessons, and for me, those were never separated. The biblical lessons and the life lessons came together for me, and that’s why sports and God fit together so well. That’s why I have to thank God for introducing me to football and sports because I met God through that and through some very caring teammates [who] loved God.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III hosts Sold Out Sports Saturday nights at 8 p.m. EST on American Family Radio. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Contact him at (910) 431-6483 or email [email protected]. His website is www.soldouttv.com.)