Once his playing days are over, Brunell, 32, sees himself working full-time with Champions for Christ (CFC). He and the low-profile ministry that is credited with transforming athletes not just into role models, but also into ministers, are featured in a November issue cover report in "Charisma" magazine, next week.
"I have no interest in coaching, the front office or broadcasting," Brunell, who led the Jaguars within one game of Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, told "Charisma." "I know I'm in a spiritual family that loves me. I'll have this relationship for the rest of my life. I'll always be with Champions for Christ."
Reaching players from college and professional sports -- including the NFL, the NBA and the NHL -- CFC is the athletic arm of Morning Star International (MSI), a worldwide church-planting body that has 350 churches in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australia. MSI, based in Nashville, Tenn., is not affiliated with Rick Joyner's MorningStar Ministries.
Four MSI congregations have started primarily with athletes, including 850-strong Southpoint Community Church (SCC) in Jacksonville, Fla., a growing charismatic church which got its start in 1996 as a Bible study in Brunell's living room.
With more than 100 NFL, 20 NBA and 10 NHL members, CFC is "a growing presence in big-league sports," "ESPN The Magazine" observed. Bill McCartney, founder and president of Promise Keepers, believes CFC is "on the cutting edge of what God is doing in the kingdom" in ministering to players, who often times have fame, fortune and a plethora of temptations.
"These guys are awesome," McCartney, 62, said. "There's fire in their camp. You can't be around these guys and not be ignited for the Lord. You tell a tree by its fruit, and this ministry bears good fruit."
"It's not just about praying a salvation prayer," says Rice Broocks, 46, who co-founded CFC in 1991 with Greg Ball. "It's about being discipled, trained and developed. The Spirit-filled message is the power [athletes] need. They need all the weapons they can get."
Ball, 43, CFC's president, adds: "They need the kingdom of God in their lives. Then their lives are better after than when they were playing. It takes years to be a role model. The question is, 'How are you building your house?'"
Broocks and Ball got their start during their affiliation with Maranatha Campus Ministries, the charismatic outreach founded by Bob Weiner in 1972. When Maranatha folded in 1989, its younger leaders carried their passion for evangelism into new arenas. Ball's vision for reaching athletes only intensified -- and his persistence has paid off.
Today, pro athletes associated with CFC include Brunell, Houston Texans lineman Tony Boselli, Washington Redskins defensive back Darrell Green and St. Louis Rams tight end Ernie Conwell. Like Brunell, Boselli also sees himself becoming a Champions minister someday.
"I believe God has called me to the full-time ministry when I retire," said Boselli, 30, a former Jaguar who became a Christian during the players' Bible study at Brunell's home. "I don't know what it is for sure, but I believe it is to preach the gospel."