By Mark Ellis —
After he tore all three ligaments in his knee, he thought his dream of future glory on the gridiron was over. Then God met him in a surprising way that changed the course of his life.
From the start — before he drew his first breath – tragedy struck. “I never had a single moment with my father,” says Ed Tandy McGlasson, the former NFL offensive lineman who played for the Rams, Jets, and Giants. He is the founding pastor of the Stadium Vineyard in Anaheim, California.
Ed’s mother was eight months pregnant with him when a terrible accident brought heartbreak. “My father was a test pilot,” he says. “He was killed at 400 miles per hour.” The night before it happened, his mother had a premonition of disaster.
“Am I going to lose you?” she asked her husband. On that last night, Ed’s dad read the story of Jesus walking on the water toward the boat filled with his disciples. As he read, something caused him to circle the word “Come,” the invitation to Peter to walk by faith across the water toward Jesus.
“The next morning he crashed in the sea,” Ed says sadly.
Later Ed’s mother remarried a submarine commander. “He was a hard man whose father tried to beat the weakness out of him,” Ed recalls.
In his youth, Ed strove to live up to the image of his deceased father. “Everything I did was about securing and proving myself to the heroic dad I never saw,” he notes. “I pushed myself to the ‘nth’ degree.”
Walk-on at Youngstown State
Without sufficient funds for college, Ed tried to walk on theYoungstownStatefootball team. “We don’t have any scholarship money to give you,” Coach Bill Narduzzi told him.
Ed had a bold idea. “Coach, if I’m not the best football player you’ve ever seen in the next 10 days, don’t give me a scholarship, but if I am…”
“Son, if you’re that good I’ll mortgage my house to get you a scholarship,” Narduzzi replied.
For the next 10 days, Ed says he played like Dick Butkus, the Chicago Bears all-time great. Every drill was played at 110 percent.
After watching the display, Narduzzi approached him and put his arm on his shoulder pad. “Son, I don’t know where we’re getting the money, but consider yourself on a full ride at Youngstown State.”
Ed could hardly contain his glee, and began to nurture his dreams of playing one day in the NFL. But a serious injury threatened to derail his plans. One day at practice, there was a “freak” fumble on the ground.
“A freshman dove through my left knee to get the fumble,” Ed recalls. As Ed collapsed he heard his knee ligaments rip. “It was an unbelievable sound in my head.”
Doctors told him all three major ligaments were torn and he would probably not play football again. He needed major reconstructive surgery the next morning.
Ed went back to his dorm room with an ice pack. “To say I was devastated would be an understatement,” he says. “Everything I worked for was gone. I didn’t know what to do.”
Then came a knock on his door. A young man named Bill Romanowski (no relation to the football player) entered the room, surveyed Ed’s sorry condition and said, “Hi Ed, I’m the campus pastor here.”
While Ed’s grandmother was a Christian Scientist, Ed had no interest or previous involvement in religion.
They exchanged a few pleasantries, then Romanowksi said, “Ed, you have a lot of things going for you, but you lack one thing.”
“What’s that?” Ed wanted to know.
“What’s he going to do for me here?” Ed asked.
Without hesitating, Romanowski quoted John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The words were vaguely familiar to Ed due to the influence of the “Rainbow Man” who appeared at sporting events with the verse prominently displayed.
This time, the words carried a power with them that penetrated his heart and awakened his soul as never before. “Right in that moment my heart was opened to God. I knew that Jesus Christ was God’s Son and He died for me.”
“Would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior?” Romanowski asked.
Ed nodded his head and he was born from above by the power of the Word and the Spirit.
Before Romanowski left the dorm room he offered to pray for Ed’s knee. “He put his hand on my ice bag and said a very simple prayer. “Heal Ed’s knee in Jesus’ name.”
“I didn’t feel anything because my knee was frozen,” Ed recalls.
Time for surgery
Early the next morning, he reported to the hospital for surgery. The doctors informed him they would like to do one more test, an arthrogram, which would shoot dye into the knee as a contrast to survey the damaged areas.
The doctor returned after an hour shaking his head. “I don’t understand this, but somehow the ligaments that were torn yesterday are reattached. I guess your knee is healed.”
Ed’s eyes got wide, filled with incredulity. “I couldn’t believe my ears, I was so excited,” he says. Still in his soft cast, he jumped off the gurney and began to scream.
As he walked back to his dorm room, he began to talk to God for the first time. At this stage, he didn’t own a Bible and had never been around Christians. “What do you want with my life,” Ed asked God.
The still small voice of the Lord spoke to his heart. “Ed, I want you to fulfill your dream and play professional football.”
Overcome with emotion, Ed turned his face toward heaven and yelled out, “I didn’t know you’re a God who lets you do your dream! Lord, If I knew you were this cool I’d have gotten saved a long time ago.”
Emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Ed knew he had to tell others about Jesus. The next day Romanowski handed him “The Four Spiritual Laws,” a tract developed by Bill Bright and widely used by Campus Crusade for Christ. “Go to the quad and find somebody and lead them to Christ,” Romanowski instructed.
Ed went into a Hardee’s Restaurant and found an attractive coed who sat alone in a booth. After he read to her word-for-word from the small booklet, she started weeping, and prayed to receive Christ.
“I got addicted to sharing the love of Jesus,” Ed recalls. “That year I led 125 kids to Christ through that tract. I’ve been doing that since 1977 and the Lord brings me an orphan every day.”
Ed achieved his dream to play in the NFL and became the starting center on four NFL teams in three of the nation’s biggest cities. During his career, he also set the bench press record with a lift of 605 pounds.
The Father’s blessing
He sees humanity divided into two groups. “There are those who know the love of the Father and they are ‘the beloved.’ Those who don’t know that love are orphans,” he says.
“Adam and Eve lost access to the Father’s house and moved humanity into an orphanage. The headmaster of that orphanage is called the ‘father of lies.’ His plan is to name us by our brokenness and keep us completely entrenched in what we’re not.”
When he meets men who have suffered the wounding that comes from a missing or distant father, he gives them the Father’s blessing: “I love you. I believe in you. You don’t have to live up to my reputation or expectations. You’re perfect and you’re not me.”
Ed says he came to grips with these issues at 40-years-old. He felt God tell him he no longer carried the name ‘football player’ on his I.D. tag. “I became God’s beloved son and my heart began to be healed of the addiction to myself.”
“The mission I’m on is to restore the blessing of the Father back into the culture.”
If you would like to know God personally, go here
Ed has spoken at numerous conferences across the country and around the world, including sharing his testimony Billy Graham events. Ed’s first book “The Difference a Father Makes” has over 200,000 copies in print. Ed and his wife Jill, live in Orange, California with their five children.