New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs recently visited Angola Prison. He spoke about the experience on Thursday's Black and Blue Report (Interview starts at the 13:55 mark). Below are highlights from the interview.
You, Mike Singletary and a few others made a very faith filled visit up to Angola Prison – talk about that trip?
"Our chaplain, Pastor Rob sent out a mass text to myself, Benjamin Watson, Luke McCown and a few other guys and I was the only one that was able to go. Benjamin Watson couldn't make it. Luke actually agreed to go but his wife apparently surprised him with Men's Final Four tickets so he ended up having to back out.
"So here I am by myself and it's my first time going to a prison. I was scared. I didn't know what to expect. Pastor Rob, our chaplain said that everything is going to be fine. He has done this often but never been to Angola before. He was like pretty much your job is to give your testimony. I never really have given my testimony.
"God has been really moving in my life here recently. Just going to the PAO and being baptized and embracing my walk quietly. I couldn't turn it down. I wanted to be a support for him so that's how it all happened. I went to Angola Prison here in Louisiana."
And how did Mike Singletary get involved in this?
"This has been going on for a couple of years now. The guy who put it on is now the chaplain for Chicago Bears. He just got the job this year. This is the first year that athletes have been involved. This guy pastors a church in Willow Creek, Chicago or something like that. He gets the chaplain job for the Chicago Bears and he was like let me see if I can get Mike and a couple more players from around the league. I didn't know the other guys.
"I think there was a guy from Jacksonville and one other place. Mike gave his testimony, which was great. I gave my testimony and then there was another pastor who preached and they had a worship service. They had a worship group there from Willow Creek. They sang and brought a house down."
It was like a chapel service?
Photos of New Orleans Saints G Ben Grubbs from the 2013 season (New Orleans Saints photos)
"Yeah, we get on the property and go through the gates and this property is unbelievable. The prison sits on 18,000 acres. There's a gold course, lakes and the grass is beautiful. They have like three or four chapels there. They have a seminary there where the prisoners go to school to become certified preachers.
"There is a movement going through that prison. But for 100 years that prison was one of the bloodiest prisons in the country and now it's one of the safest. I walked in and started talking to this guy, Big Lou was his name, and he was a chef. He was one of the nicest guys you could meet. He was the chef for the staff. He cooked us some good food, catfish, potato salad, strawberry shortcake, tartar sauce. Everything was made there.
"That prison supplies all the prisons in the state of Louisiana with their food. I took three bottles of hot sauce home that they made there. He says that there's guys that could go in the woods and bring back a tree and a couple of hours later, you have a bowl. These guys are just talented. It was so sad. On the flip side of that, when we started our worship service, these guys were praising God. They didn't hold anything back. It was unbelievable."
You sound surprised.
"I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what these guys were going to look like or how they were going to react. You see things on TV but you really can't take that to heart because it's TV. When I walked in, me being a New Orleans Saints player, they were going crazy. The chaplain for the prison told me that I was the first player to step foot in the prison and they love their football. They were telling me things that I didn't even know about the free agency.
"They were really excited. We had some great conversations. By the end of the day, I was sitting there talking to them just like I'm talking to you. Not even looking at what they did.
"These guys are just human beings. One thing I got from it, they are no different from me. I can be there. I've had some nights where I've probably drank too much. Never did drugs but I've drank too much and just hanging out with my buddies and got in a fight here or there. I could have easily gone down that path. It only takes a couple of seconds. It's one really bad choice. It only takes 20-30 seconds to be in that situation. They just got the short end of the stick. Despite what they did, they're still serving the Lord."
Would you go back?
"Yeah, I'm going back. Pastor Rob spoke about getting some more guys and going back because we can make a difference there. I hope that my testimony touched them.
"Quite honestly, they probably impacted me more than impacted them. That's usually how it works. With their situation, some guys that I met, they had life. Big Lou was in there for life and I was talking to him not knowing what he did and I didn't really care because the way he came off was genuine guy. I didn't have to get up for anything. He took care of me.
"I can say that if I continue to go back that I can make some good friends. Those guys are better than some guys that I know that are free here on the streets."