Frank Reich is adding to an already prestigious list of “comeback” accomplishments in his football career as a player and coach.
Just weeks after being fired from the Indianapolis Colts after the team’s lackluster start to the season, Reich was named the head coach for the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers hope that Reich, who played quarterback for the team in its first season, can help develop a quarterback and begin the rebuilding process.
Reich’s return to the Carolinas is not just special for football reasons. It’s the place that formed the coach into a committed Christian.
The NFL veteran graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, where he then served as president from 2003-06. He then pastored a local church for one year before joining the Indianapolis Colt’s coaching staff in 2007.
Since then, Reich has become widely known in the NFL as an outspoken follower of Christ. Reich made it abundantly clear where is priorities are in a 2019 interview with former Colts coach and fellow Christian Tony Dungy:
“The No. 1 goal is to magnify the name of Jesus Christ first and foremost above all things. Whether it was in ministry or in coaching, no matter what I was going to choose to do, that was going to be my mission in life. … I really thought [ministry] might be it, but at the end of the day, I don’t think that was God’s calling on my life.”
Reich is also known for record-setting comebacks.
In 1984, he came off the bench for the University of Maryland and brought the team back from a 31-0 halftime deficit to beat the University of Miami 42–40.
As a pro, in 1993 he replaced injured Bills legend Jim Kelly in an AFC wildcard game against the Houston Oilers, down by 32 points in the third quarter. Reich and the Bills won 41–38 in overtime – the largest comeback in NFL history until this season.
That record was broken by the Minnesota Vikings, a team quarterbacked by another outspoken Christian, Kirk Cousins. After his record fell, Reich reportedly reached out to Cousins, encouraging him to continue to use his platform for the Glory of God:
“Kirk, for 30 years, that moment has given me an opportunity to share many things about football and life, tell people about my faith, and now the torch has been passed to you.”
While Reich passed the torch on the comeback record as a player, the Panthers are hoping that he can engineer another comeback as the captain of their franchise.
“[Frank Reich is] a great person. He’s a really good football coach. He’s a great motivator. He’s a guy that connects very, very well to players. He’s tremendously organized. And he has a great football mind,” said Bill Polian, the first ever general manager of the Panthers.