November 13, 2009
It's the kind of story I know very well. A talented, driven young man of modest means fights his way to the top of his profession. He makes his mark among the powerful and the elite.
And then, through pride, or carelessness, he "takes his eyes off the ball," and everything he worked for crumbles around him.
He goes to prison. And when he is released, he seeks to redeem himself. He even writes a book about his downfall.
Sound familiar? Well, I'm not talking about my own story of Watergate and my time in prison. I'm talking about Tank Black, a man who was the agent for many top NFL stars—players like Sterling Sharpe, Andre Rison, Carl Banks, and Jevon Kearse.
Tank's newly released book, Tanked: Behind the Scenes with the NFL's Biggest Stars by the Games Most Infamous Super Agent, details his life as a high school football player, college coach, and as a groundbreaking African-American player agent.
I can't recommend the book for young people because it's a real-life, gritty picture of what can happen to young athletes who rise from poverty and obscurity and suddenly become superstars—loaded with cash, surrounded by plenty of drugs, women, and no-good hangers-on.
But here's why I can recommend that you consider purchasing and reading the book. Tank visited our Prison Fellowship headquarters recently to tell our staff that he will donate part of the book's proceeds to Angel Tree, our ministry to the children of prisoners.
He's doing it because Angel Tree touched him and his family when he went to prison. Tank served eight years for laundering drug money and defrauding his players of millions of dollars. Tank insists he was innocent of the charges, but he admits to being involved with criminals in a business venture, to lying to investigators, and to violating NFL and NCAA rules.
Tank says that prison was "difficult beyond imagination." "It is especially heart wrenching," he says, "when you have young children who don't understand your absence—and they want and need your love and your presence so badly."
In September of 2000, Tank wondered how he would be able to get a Christmas gift for his son, Matthew. Then he learned about Angel Tree, and how Prison Fellowship volunteers would deliver Christmas gifts and the Gospel message to his son—all on his behalf.
Tank says, "This was one of the few bright moments of my prison experience. It warmed my heart that Angel Tree cared enough about prisoners and their families to provide such a special service."
Well, Matthew received the gifts from his dad. And as Tank says, "Over the next seven years I would benefit from the Angel Tree program as a prisoner. And now that I am out of prison I will support the Angel Tree program for the rest of my life."
So come to our website, Breakpoint.org, if you'd like to order a copy of Tank's book, knowing that a portion of the proceeds will help prisoners' kids through Angel Tree.
And I'd like to ask you also to pray for Tank, as he rededicates his life to the Lord and seeks to redeem the years lost in prison. As an ex-prisoner myself, I know that a skeptical world will be watching his every move—and that can be a heavy burden to bear.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.