Herb Lusk, now a pastor in Philadelphia, was the first NFL player to pray in the end zone. ( Getty Images/Jeff Fusco)
You can choose to do the rumba after scoring a touchdown or you can kneel down for a quick prayer…that’s freedom of expression, no matter how hard the NFL tries to crackdown on end zone celebrations…they happen.
Herb Lusk chose to kneel down and pray…and 30 years of scoring moments later, sports has changed for better and worse.
This from The Washington Post:
By ALAN GOLDENBACH
PHILADELPHIA — The play was 48 Toss, and 30 years later, Dick Vermeil remembers it as if he called it last Sunday. Herb Lusk took a pitch from Ron Jaworski, headed around left end and breezed unscathed 70 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Four steps over the goal line at Giants Stadium, the Philadelphia Eagles’ running back rewrote the playbook. Alone in the end zone, with a crowd of 48,824 looking on, he celebrated with a gesture in what has since become a watershed moment in American sports.
With little ceremony and no advance warning, Lusk kept his eyes straight, dropped to his left knee and bowed his head in prayer. A few seconds later, he stood back up and returned to the sideline, his legacy sealed.
“Herb Lusk was the first NFL player to kneel in the end zone and pray,” said Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, which has footage of more than 9,000 games played since 1894.
Said Vince Papale, Lusk’s teammate, whose career was portrayed in the 2006 movie “Invincible”: “Religion was such a hot-button issue that no one wanted to touch it. . . . What I liked about it, it was a private, sensitive moment for him. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, hey, look at me,’ like a lot of the celebrations have become these days. It wasn’t demonstrative.”
This is a great article with lots of NFL sports history. Be sure to take a look!