Chaplain George Gregory and his wife, Tondra, have been ministering to athletes, coaches and their wives on the Los Angeles Chargers for the past two years. He has seen his fair share of ups and downs during his life, but his faith in God, his family and passion to share the Gospel with others has never wavered.
A Goldsboro native, Gregory attended Southern Wayne High School and graduated from North Carolina A&T State University, where he met his wife. His father taught him how to be a minister.
“Both my mom and my dad taught me to care about people. They also taught me how to love God,” Gregory said.
He was pastor at Kings Park International Church in Raleigh-Durham, but decided he needed to make a change, so 10 years ago, Gregory and his wife planted a church in New York City.
While in New York, he and his wife decided to do something outside of the church.
“Our passion is marriage and relationships,” says Gregory, fondly recalling his time in the concrete jungle of New York City. “We love to teach couples how to be married successfully. My mom and dad have been married 50 years, so I have got a great example.”
One day, Gregory was introduced to the New York Jets chaplain, and for nine years, Gregory worked with the Jets conducting premarital counseling, marriage seminars and dinner date nights.
“Mostly we were marriage mentors,” Gregory said. “Then the New York Giants’ chaplain heard about what we were doing and we started working with them and doing the same things we were doing with the Jets.”
Eventually, Gregory and his wife decided it was time to leave New York. At same time, Anthony Lynn, who was a coach with the Jets from 2009-2014, had just been named head coach of the Chargers.
“We resigned on a Monday and two days later we got a call that there’s four NFL teams that need a chaplain,” Gregory said. “Out of those four, when they said L.A. Charges, I said no because L.A. is too far away from my mom and dad. I actually interviewed with the Buffalo Bill, but they decided to go in another direction.
“Coach Lynn and his wife went to our church in New York City. They put four resumes in front of him and he looked at mine and with no interview gave me the job.”
Before every game, Gregory leads a chapel service for the players. He hosts Bible studies for the coaches, players and corporate executives, while his wife leads a service for players’ and coaches’ wives. An NFL roster is made up of 53 players, and Gregory says 40-45 players attend the pre-game prayer service.
Every day of the week Gregory and his wife are lifting the Chargers organization in a spiritual way.
“It seems like when they’re not playing, there’s more things to help them with,” Gregory said. “I’m just a support system, most people think a chaplain only preaches the Gospel and that’s a big part of it, but I’m a friend, a mentor, I’m an older man in the players’ lives.
“A lot of them need an older man that they can trust that’s not asking them for anything.”
Being an NFL team chaplain is a year-round job, whether it’s during the season or in the offseason Gregory is always doing something with one of the players. The divorce rate for NFL players after they retire is 70 percent, so Gregory teaches the players how to be proactive instead of reactive in their marriages.
“We’ve always had a heart to do big things for God,” Gregory said. “I like hanging out with guys. They’re just regular guys, and I love the services, but it’s what happens between the services that I like the best and that’s the down time.
“That’s where you get to know them and their families. That’s where you really the guard start to come down, and I really like helping them with their marriages.”
Being so busy Gregory is only able to come back to Goldsboro four times year.
“It a joy for me to come back, I’m Goldsboro born and bred,” Gregory says with a smile.
Gregory continues to stand strong in his faith in God and his perseverance to spread the Gospel through football.