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Former OU, NFL player traded football for ministry



Willie Franklin was thrilled with the opportunity to play football at the University of Oklahoma and for the Baltimore Colts in the Seventies, but something was still missing from his life.

"I found myself hungry to learn about the Bible and Christianity," explained Franklin, who became a Christian at age 23.

When Franklin returned to the NFL, he became increasingly disillusioned by the lifestyles of some of his teammates. He earned the nickname "Preacher Man" and eventually was released during the 1974 strike season.

"It was time for me to move on with my life and I wanted to follow the passion I had for my faith," said Franklin, who enrolled at Harding University in Arkansas and did two years of Bible study.

 "Willie was just taken by the message of Jesus Christ. He has dedicated his life to spreading the word and helping young people," said Ronnie Fletcher, a former OU backup. "The best thing about Willie: He is the real deal. He is as sincere as they come and he's got a gift for speaking to people."

Franklin has spent the last 30 years traveling around the world, spreading God's word at youth rallies, camps, revivals and college retreats.

"This is what I was supposed to do with my life," said Franklin, now 57. "I look back on my time playing at OU as something that maybe didn't work out exactly like I had hoped, but I wouldn't trade my experiences there for anything." "Jay C. Upchurch


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