Spring 2021 Magazine

NEW PODCAST: Earl Smith - San Francisco 49ers Team Chaplain

THIS IS EPISODE 447 OF THE SPORTS SPECTRUM PODCAST

Reverend Earl Smith is the team chaplain for the 2019-20 NFC-champion San Francisco 49ers, as well as the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

In 1983, at the age of 27, Smith became the youngest person ever hired as a protestant chaplain by the California Department of Corrections. He arrived at San Quentin just like everyone thought he would. Labeled as a gang member and criminal from a young age, Smith was expected to do some time, but after a brush with death during a botched drug deal, Smith’s soul was saved and his life path altered forever.

From that moment on, Smith knew God had an unusual mission for him, and he became a minister to the lost souls sitting on death row for 23 years. He played chess with Charles Manson, witnessed 12 executions, and negotiated truces between rival gangs. But most importantly, Smith helped the prisoners of San Quentin find redemption and hope, and understand that it is still possible to find God’s grace and mercy from behind bars.

Smith is the author of the book “Death Row Chaplain,” released in 2014. He has appeared on numerous broadcast networks, including HBO, CNN, The CBS Morning News, The 700 Club, Trinity Broadcasting Network, 100 Huntley Street, The Discovery Channel and The History Channel. Smith has been featured in such publications as People’s Weekly, Ministry Today, Newsweek, Ebony, Christianity Today, Guidepost, The African Americans and Time. Smith has received two “Angel” awards for excellence in media.

On this episode of the podcast, Reverend Earl shares the story of faith with the 2019 49ers, what that moment was like for him to see San Francisco go to the Super Bowl, dealing with adversity and ministering to those who are going through difficult times, and how faith has changed and evolved in the NFL over the last 30 years.

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