GCobb Speaks of Faith and Football at FCA Banquet
GCobb did what he does oh so well on Saturday April 9th, and that is speak.
Garry Cobb is no stranger to public speaking. As a popular linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, Cobb was asked to sub in on radio shows. He loved it, the fans loved him, and a marriage was made for Cobb’s post- football career. GCobb has spent two decades on WIP, and previously spent eight years as a sports anchor for CBS-3.
But Cobb’s speech to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet in King of Prussia on the 9th went far beyond football.
“As a kid, I wanted to play professional sports and I got the chance to play in the NFL,” Cobb told the audience. “It was great. It was satisfying. I get a chance to talk to guys who played in the League and some of them achieved some things that I didn’t- they got that Super Bowl ring. Some of them are in the Hall of Fame. But I’ve seen guys achieve those things and realize that it wasn’t all that they thought it was.”
Cobb may not have achieved everything on the gridiron, but he achieved most things. He won a national championship with USC in 1978, playing alongside such football luminaries as Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott and Anthony Munoz.
When the Cowboys drafted, and waived Cobb in 1979, he latched on with the Detroit Lions. Named their outside linebacker on Opening Day in 1981, Cobb would start every game he played for the next six seasons- four with the Lions and two with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cobb’s greatest game as a pro came on October 5, 1986, when he registered a then team record four sacks as the Eagles shutout the host Atlanta Falcons 16-0.
Four weeks later, in a tough 13-10 loss at the St. Louis Cardinals, Cobb’s roommate Reggie White recorded his own four sack game. Word was getting around about the elite defensive lineman/monster who would lead the NFL in sacks in both 1987 and 1988.
But Cobb saw a different side to the Hall of Famer.
“I enjoyed our time together,” Cobb recalled. “I came back to the room before a game in Los Angeles and remember seeing this 300-pound monster crying on the bed.”
White’s Dad, who White never really knew, lived in Los Angeles and the young future Canton-inductee desperately wanted his Dad to come see him play.
“He had just gotten a note from his Dad that he wasn’t going to come see that game,” Cobb told a stunned crowd. “It shows that you can be blessed with a lot of things. But having a relationship with the Lord who really allows us to grow in a comfortable environment of families with a Mom and Dad, is so important. People would say that Reggie White has everything yet here he was on the bed crying because his Dad wasn’t interested in seeing him play later that afternoon.
“That made a statement with me,” Cobb continued. “We need people who will become good fathers or Dads and that only happens when you find out about the Lord.”
Cobb and White had many things in common: there were both Eagles. They were both Southern-born elite front seven players. They were both Christians. But whereas White never knew his father, Cobb was blessed with two loving Christian parents.
“I never saw my Dad or my Mom do anything out of line. The style that they lived- there was no cursing and no drinking,” Cobb remembers. “I didn’t realize that growing up, they were living a life in front of us that was going to be seeded way down deep in me. It is one thing to share the Word with somebody but it’s another to live it in front of them.”
Though raised in the church, Cobb had to make his parents’ faith his own. As a teenager growing up in Stamford, CT- the family moved from North Carolina when he was young- Cobb had plenty of options. He loved baseball and was good enough to play at Southern Cal under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. Cobb was an outstanding basketball player. But it was the siren call of football that lured him…and lured him far away.
By his own admission, Cobb wanted to get away from home and “do his own thing.” Southern California was as far from Connecticut as one could get.
“We had about 10-15 guys on each USC team go to the pros. It was very competitive,” Cobb emphasized. “When I first got out there when I was 18, I thought I loved football but it was football 24/7. Everybody was big and physical. There were some serious practices.”
Things worked out on the field for Cobb after some doubts as a freshman; off the field, “doing his own thing” got him into some trouble. And it was during that troubled period when he remembered the seeds of his Christian faith that were planted in him as a kid.
“My Mom and Dad always told us that God is the answer. That you need Him in your life and He will be there after everyone else is gone,” he said. “They emphasized spending that time in the Bible. I started getting serious about my relationship with God.” Cobb also got serious about his family, marrying his wife Gwen while an undergraduate- and the two are still happily together today.
Prior to Cobb’s speech, longtime Pennridge football coach and FCA supporter Jeff Hollenbach shared with the audience. Hollenbach spoke about Psalm 81, which says “with honey from the rock, I will satisfy you.”
Hollenbach talked about playing quarterback on an Illinois team that had been ranked as high as #14. They went into Columbus to play #1 ranked Ohio State…and got routed by Archie Griffin and the Buckeyes.
“The game was over and we did not play as well as we wanted to play. Ohio State played very well. It was hard. It was a quiet locker room,” Hollenbach described. “We turned around and there were four red jerseys in our locker room…and it got real quiet.”
The Illini expected trouble. Instead, they had four Buckeyes asking the team who the Christians were…and if they could pray with them. Hollenbach and three other teammates went out with the four Buckeyes.
“We grabbed hands. White jersey red jersey. White jersey red jersey. And we prayed. When I think of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, that’s what I think about,” Hollenbach offered. “I think about the uniform we had on, our culture, our background- it doesn’t matter. Our fellowship and our connection to Jesus is strong.
“I think about a rock being a strong hold of football in Columbus, Ohio but in the middle of that rock, there was some honey. Some really sweet honey. It’s something,” he concluded, “I’ll never forget.”
Today, Cobb spends some his best public speaking not on the airwaves, but one on one with troubled youth and with former NFL players trying to transition into “normal life.”
“I spend a lot of time working in jails and in youth facilities in our area because there are so many youngsters who don’t have parents,” said Cobb, “I had a father- a father who was always there loving us, giving us direction and discipline.
“The fact is that God loves us and God paid the price for us: that Jesus gave his life for us and there is a place for us in His family. And that’s the ultimate family: to be a part of God’s family,” Cobb continued. “That is something I am able to share with different players around the League- guys who are in challenging situations. I find myself talking with guys and sharing with them about relationships: about loving their wives and being there for them. The only way that happens though is that you have to be able to receive that love from the Father and accept Him into your life.”
Much like Coach Hollenbach described, there are rocks in the world. Cobb says plenty of people dealing with those rocks, yet he continues to bring them sweet honey of Christian love and encouragement.
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