The Challenge to Men
By Rick Van Sant
Danny Abramowicz was one of the biggest names ever produced by the Xavier football program and went on to become an All-Pro receiver in the National Football League. So he knows a thing or two about hanging on to what’s important. And he figures one of the biggest problems in our society is that men have let go of their spirituality. “I think men have dropped the ball as spiritual heads of families,” he says.
Recently, however, the namesake of Danny Abramowicz Ministry—an outreach to Catholic men—was fumbling for ideas on how to get men interested in spirituality. “I wondered what we can do to touch men in a way without making it seem like we’re preaching at them,” he says. “If you start preaching at guys, they’re gone.”
To find the answer, he turned to what was a big part of his own life: sports. After graduating from Xavier in 1967, Abramowicz went on to a brilliant career with the New Orleans Saints where he was the NFL’s leading receiver in 1969. “Men, in general, love sports,” he says. “Some of the most popular TV shows are ‘Sports Center’ and ‘NFL Today.’ ” So, when the EWTN Global Catholic TV Network asked Abramowicz to host a program aimed at men, he began imagining what it could be and what it could look like. “I wanted to get more men watching EWTN because you don’t hear men say, ‘Let’s get a six-pack and sit down and watch EWTN tonight,’ ” he says. “I prayed and the Lord said, ‘Why don’t you use a Sports Center-type set?’ ”
The end result: Abramowicz now populates a flashy set on “Crossing the Goal,” a panel show with a “team” that includes Curtis Martin, the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Peter Herbeck, the vice president of Renewal Ministries, and Brian Patrick, a Cincinnati broadcast veteran.
The fast-paced TV program—which airs several times each week and is also available on the Internet at www.crossingthegoal.com—features the quartet discussing modern-day problems that confront men. The show begins with “The Kickoff” where a topic is introduced, then comes “The Game Plan” with ideas about how to handle problems. Next is “The Red Zone” where panelists personalize the issues, and it all leads to “The End Zone” where male viewers are challenged to take action.“We bring up issues that make guys squirm in their shoes a little bit,” says Abramowicz. “The idea is to wake guys up. I see so much indifference in men that they don’t even think about the spiritual part of their lives. We challenge men in sports and academics, so why don’t we challenge them in the spiritual realm?”
Abramowicz, 63, is also author of the book Spiritual Workout of a Former Saint. He says his passion for infusing spirituality in men stems from a time when he “chose the wrong road” and got back on track with the help of a Jesuit priest. “When I turned to the Lord,” he says, “I turned all the way.”