Sunday has always been a glorious day for Irving Fryar. First there was the glory of football. Now there is the glory of God.
It’s Sunday morning, and all eyes at the New Jerusalem House of God are on Elder Pastor Irving Fryar, the former Patriots All-Pro wide receiver who played 17 NFL seasons with four teams before becoming an ordained minister.
To watch him preach is like watching the late, great James Brown perform. He has to use a purple washcloth several times to mop the sweat from his face.
But if he’s sweating his latest scrape with the law, you’d never know it.
The State of New Jersey vs. Irving Fryar could be his toughest matchup yet.
In October, Fryar, 51, was indicted by a New Jersey state grand jury along with his mother, Allene McGhee, 72, on second-degree charges of conspiracy and theft by deception. On Jan. 21, both pleaded not guilty at their arraignment in Burlington County (N.J.) Superior Court to charges they conspired to steal more than $690,000 in an elaborate New Jersey mortgage scam. Fryar faces a five- to 10-year state prison sentence plus full restitution if convicted.
Their defense lawyers say they were victims of a broker’s scam. Before his church sermon, he is asked if he is a victim.
“I have nothing to say about that,” says Fryar. “My lawyer told me not to talk about the case.
“Now you have to excuse me. I have a sermon to prepare.”
Later in the day, the reporter makes a second attempt to talk to Fryar, this time about religion and football.
“Don’t start,” he says.
. . .
On this day, Pastor Fryar celebrates the first Annual Men’s Day, and the church will be packed for the late afternoon service. Lord knows he never mentions his arraignment in church on Sunday.
Fryar is no stranger to trouble, especially in New England. There were drugs, alcohol, gun arrests, fights, a car accident, and lies.
In 1986, he missed the AFC Championship game after he sustained cuts on his hand in a domestic dispute with his pregnant wife and then lied about it. He returned to play in the Super Bowl and scored the only touchdown in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bears.
Sports Illustrated once called him the “All Pro screw-up, the Human Incident, and the Original Sinner.” Wade Boggs declared himself the “White Irving Fryar” after he fell out of a Jeep driven by his wife in spring training.
Then in 1990, Fryar gave his life to Jesus in a Roxbury church, and life got better. He became an ordained minister, and in 1998, he won the Bart Starr Award as the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community.
Source: Boston Globe | Stan Grossfeld