The Francis Asbury Society

Faith and Football

Posted on | March 31, 2017 | 2 Responses

A Tribute to Mickey Marvin

Former Super Bowl champion and Tennessee player Mickey Marvin died on March 6, 2017, after a two-year battle with ALS. He was 61. Marvin was drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders in 1977, started at right guard from 1978-86 and was part of Super Bowl-winning teams in the 1980 and 1983 seasons. He played for the Volunteers from 1973-76 and helped them win the 1974 Liberty Bowl. Marvin was a native of Hendersonville, NC.

Mickey Marvin grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, played football at the University of Tennessee, played 11 years for the Oakland Raiders, and then worked as a scout for 29 years. He could carry a football, but he carried his faith as well. In an interview with The Francis Asbury Society during a renewal conference in 2003, Marvin said, “To God be the glory for the great things he did for my playing for the Raiders, giving me the talent to play. It was not something I came of by myself, but God gave me that talent to honor him.”

When his days as a player were done, Marvin thought he’d like to go into the ministry in some way. He was offered a job in college scouting with the suggestion that he could scout and do ministry, too. So, for 29 years, that’s what he did. Through his scouting, he stayed involved with the team, and through his speaking—in churches, schools, and jails and prisons—he had a vibrant ministry. “I think sports are a wonderful thing to be involved in, and I’ve been able to give a lot of witness for the Lord in that,” he said.

Marvin grew up in the holiness tradition as part of the Nazarene Church. He was saved when he was a little boy and then rededicated his life to Christ in 1980. In giving his testimony, Marvin stated:

I had never really understood entire sanctification, but I had heard it preached. I grew up under a preacher that was very much a pastor. He preached heaven and hell, and the Judgment and the Rapture. I used to sit on the front pew of that church and I was six years old and he used to scare me to death. And I thank God now that he did. I really do, but I just didn’t understand about sanctification.

One day as he was traveling for his scouting job, Marvin was struggling spiritually. Once he got settled in his hotel room, he pulled out a devotional book, Holiness, Our Heritage, written by Nelson Perdue, an evangelist in the Nazarene Church, a member of the Francis Asbury Society, and a very dear friend and mentor to Marvin. As he read Perdue’s devotional, Marvin would read the Scripture referenced, reread Perdue’s book, pray, and repeat the cycle—for hours.

At some point when I got finished with that book, I was praying, and I totally surrendered my life to God and he filled me with the Holy Spirit. I felt something in my heart that I know is the evidence that God had given me the Holy Spirit, that I had wholly surrendered my life to him.

Marvin was a long-time friend of The Francis Asbury Society and a strong proponent of holiness of heart and life. He purchased Dr. Kinlaw’s devotional, This Day with the Master, by the case, giving copies out to coaches and players and anyone else he met who he thought needed some spiritual encouragement. With all his traveling, he also enjoyed listening to sermons on tape, and after he listened to them, he’d often give them away so they could bless others. He wanted everyone to know about the relationship we can have with God.

What I’m learning more and more through Dr. Kinlaw’s ministry, through reading his books and listening to his tapes is that it’s all about relationship, about God restoring us to that relationship to him that he had with Adam and Eve in the garden. We don’t know how long it was there before the fall, but it’s about restoration, a restoration of relationship, and it’s through Jesus Christ and in salvation and full surrender and sanctification and letting the Holy Spirit have all of us.

Marvin was a note-taker, from his football plays to sermon notes, he recorded things that were important for him to remember. During one sermon, the preacher made two statements that Marvin wrote down: “Salvation showed me who I was without Jesus Christ. Sanctification showed me who I can be in Jesus Christ.” He explained, “That’s become my slogan. The journey has never been better; it’s never been richer. The Bible has just come alive to me and I’m so thankful for that.”

As Marvin concluded his interview in 2003, he mentioned the legacy of faith he’d been handed, particularly by his mother and grandmother. It seems a fitting way to end this article as well.

You know, I have two Super Bowl rings, and I was a world champion twice, and to God be the glory, great things he has done. He gave me my talent, and I’m thankful to have those memories and to have played professional football, but in the last few months the two things that I’m so aware of and that I’m more appreciative of than anything else are the prayers of my mother and grandmother. I know that my mother wet her pillow with tears praying for me. And I ask her every day, “Mom, are you still praying for me?” “Yes, I’m praying for you every day. I pray for you and Lisa and Jonathan and Paige.” My grandmother probably prayed for me more than anybody in the family. And those prayers are still being poured out, and praise God for that. So it’s such a heritage that I have. But as wonderful as that heritage is and as rich as it is, that heritage would mean nothing unless I embraced it myself. You know, I had to make it personal for me, and then pass it on to my children.

Marvin did make that heritage personal. And he passed it on, not only to his children but also to countless others with whom he worked and lived. Thank you, Mickey, for being such a strong witness for our Lord, Jesus Christ.


2 Responses to “Faith and Football”

  1. Nelson Blount
    April 1st, 2017 @ 10:12 am

    This article has been an encouragement to me. I will be using this in my message tomorrow as I speak on living the ADVENTURE!

  2. Jesse Middendorf
    April 1st, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

    Mickey was a gentle giant, in both body and soul. His love for Christ, his passion for holy living, and his zeal for reaching out to others, left a lasting impact. His legacy is rich and fruitful.

    I had the privilege of preaching in events where he was in attendance. No one was more open, more responsive, and more encouraging. I will cherish the time I was able to spend with him.

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