Rob Issa, FISM News
Frank Reich left full-time ministry to return to the NFL in a coaching capacity several years ago. He still brought ministry with him to work.
Indianapolis fired Reich in November, but he is back in the NFL after the Carolina Panthers hired him Thursday to become their new head coach. He returns to Carolina where he was the first starting quarterback in team history in 1995.
After Reich’s playing career ended in 1998, he attended the Charlotte Campus of Reformed Theological Seminary and earned a Master of Divinity degree. He served as president of RTS’ Charlotte campus from 2003 to 2006, and also served as a pastor at Ballantyne Presbyterian Church until he moved to Indianapolis for his first stint in coaching as an intern in 2006.
“I think sometimes it’s easy for all of us to fall into the trap to say, ‘Hey, our faith world is over here and then our work world or our family world is over here,'” Reich said on Faith On The Field Show in 2022.
And that’s probably been the biggest thing that I’ve learned over the years. I was in full-time ministry and I was in a business venture. And then I eventually got back into coaching. And I’ve had people say, ‘Man, it looks like your career is kind of zig-zag all over the place.’ And I say, well, on the outside, yes, but on the inside, no. It’s always been about living out my faith in Christ, making the most impact, living my life, according to kingdom principles being inspired by the intimacy that I have in my relationship with Christ. From what I have experienced, that gives me whatever wisdom I need, whatever juice I need as a coach, whatever strength I need. That’s the center of it.
“And to learn that I don’t have to go into full-time ministry to be a minister of the gospel, that I can do that as a football coach, as a player, it doesn’t mean that I’m beating people over the head with the Bible. It just means organically and dynamically living out your faith, always being prepared to tell others for the hope in what you have.”
The 61-year-old Reich takes over a Panthers team that finished 7-10, 6-6 under interim coach Steve Wilks. Reich was 40-33-1 as head coach with the Colts before being fired on Nov. 7 after a 3-5-1 start. Reich had a different starting quarterback in each of his five seasons with the Colts and led them to the playoffs twice.
Before going to the Colts in 2018, Reich was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. He helped them win the Super Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles in his second season under head coach Doug Pederson.
In Indianapolis, Reich and his wife, Linda, formed kNot Today, a nonprofit that works to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation.
“This is one of the most horrific crimes,” Reich said. “Children who are actually looking to adults to protect them and nurture them and help them to grow up to live mature, holistic lives are the actual ones who adults are using — that trust the children are placing in them and then exploiting them and abusing them for their own good. It doesn’t get any worse than that.”
Reich played for the Bills, Panthers, Jets, and Lions and served as an assistant coach for the Colts, Cardinals, Chargers, and Eagles. Along their NFL journey, the Reichs discovered child trafficking is prevalent across the country.
“It’s everywhere. It knows no boundaries,” Reich said. “We all know the international things and we’ve seen the movies and we’ve seen the statistics and the clips, which keep us up at night. But there’s equally bad stuff going on in neighborhoods that are right near us that are all over U.S. cities, smaller trafficking rings of children being sexually abused and exploited in horrific ways. That’s what we have found out more than anything.
“So, we’re really taking a multi-level approach. It is grassroots, boots on the ground in these small communities making a difference, but also using the NFL platform to have a major impact on a national and international level.”