Yet today the modest Frank Reich, well-known as a Christian motivational speaker throughout the country, gives all the glory to God for his talent and his wins. He says simply "I know football is not all that important in the whole scope of things, but the fact of the matter is, that was the profession, that was the mission field, that God put me in. I often use the analogy of a car. I tell people that football is the vehicle, the car, if you will, that God placed me in to take me through a season of my life. Just like a car, God used sports, football, to take me to certain cities to meet certain people to learn certain things to do certain works."
At the University of Maryland, Frank played back-up to Boomer Esiason for the first few years, but then became starting quarterback in his senior year. In the fourth game of the season, he was injured, separating his shoulder.
Reich recounts "I separated my shoulder, and in many respects, I felt like this was it, my whole life was going down the tubes. It was through that injury that God rocked my world, and He really brought me to a place where I needed to fall on my knees before Him." He was afraid that he would never get a chance to lead his team again.
But on November 10, 1984, the Miami Hurricanes had blown the Maryland Terrapins out of the water at Orange Bowl Stadium, taking a 31-0 half-time lead. In the locker room, the coach made the announcement that Frank was going to start in the second half. Frank proceeded to rally his team. He threw for 260 yards, connecting for three touchdown passes, and running for another. He led the team to a 42-40 win, which at that time was the biggest comeback in NCAA history.
Later, he also orchestrated the greatest comeback in NFL history, during the years he spent in Buffalo, New York, playing for the Buffalo Bills. Reich was drafted by the Bills in 1985, and became back-up to Jim Kelly. In 1989, when Kelly had a shoulder injury, Reich led the team to two straight victories. In 1990, when Kelly was again injured, Reich led the team to two straight wins, clinching the AFC East title, and home-field advantage during the play-offs. But it was during a 1993 play-off game with the Houston Oilers, that Reich had the greatest challenge and comeback victory of his career.
Kelly had gotten hurt in the last week of the season, so Reich had to start the game with the Oilers. Due to blunders and miscues, for more than half the game, Reich and the Bills were in trouble: they were trailing the Oilers 35-3 by the third quarter. Then a song provided Frank Reich with much-needed inspiration.
Earlier in the week, he'd received a life-changing phone call. "My sister had called me to tell me about a song she had heard that she had thought was incredible, and it reminded her of me and wanted me to hear it, so I listened to the song. The song was "In Christ Alone" (by Michael English). I opened it and listened to it, and basically for three to four straight days, listened to it every second I could."
The song reverberated in his soul, then, as Reich rallied his team and proceeded to lead them to a 41-38 overtime victory against the Houston Oilers, the largest comeback in NFL history. At the after-game Press Conference, Reich read the lyrics of the song to the reporters: 'In Christ alone will I glory, though I could pride myself in battles won, for I have been blessed beyond measure, and by His strength alone I overcome."
Today, Reich says "After that whole game was over and the lyrics were read, it seemed as if that song was written for that one game in time. What I have since realized is that the song and the lyrics are really about everyday Christian living. In every victory, let it be said of me that my source of strength and my source of hope is in Christ alone."
Frank currently travels around the country, giving motivational talks and working with Churches of all denominations (he has a Master's of Divinity from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina and has been Pastor of two Churches so far.) But his friendship with Buffalo Bills former QB Jim Kelly remains strong. Kelly's oldest daughter Erin Kelly wrote this in an article for the Buffalo News:
"During the long, seven week stretch of my Dad's cancer treatments, he received a text from his former back-up QB, Frank Reich, every day. This started out as a simple note of encouragement to my Dad. However these messages ended up impacting our entire family. Every text was applicable and incredibly moving." One text ended "You are a good man, Jim Kelly!!!!! Love ya, bro."
In his career, Frank Reich accepted the mission field of football that God gave him, a field where he could offer support, encouragement, solid teamwork, and outstanding leadership when he was called upon to rally his team to victories. He always saw his primary mission field as his team, where he could build friendship, unity and loyalty in that part of Christ's Kingdom, without giving in to discouragement, jealousy, or competitiveness. Today he still is demonstrating that enthusiastic leadership in the mission field of leading more souls to Christ. In "In Christ Alone" the lyrics say, "Now I seek no greater honor than just to know Him more and to count my gains but losses to the glory of my Lord."