Name: Tony Goodman
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Edward Waters College– Jacksonville, Florida
Tony Goodman has a story of redemption if I’ve ever heard one. He’s a downright leader, encourager and an example to his teammates at Edward Waters College.
The path to get there wasn’t easy.
Coming up in Jacksonville, he was a standout football with a lot of promise and a full-ride scholarship to South Carolina State. In the blink of an eye, it was all gone.
“As far as getting all the publicity and all the attention. It kind of took over me or what not. My grades dropped,” he explained.
From there, things really took a dive. Tony started selling drugs, partying, and drinking heavily. He was in a dark place and even contemplated suicide.
“Deep down inside, I wanted to escape from it, but it was like, I couldn’t. It just got to the point where I was broken. Everything went bad.”
In that moment, Tony did the only thing left he could: look up. He says he cried out to God and He heard him. From the depths of his soul– with hurt, pain and confusion weighing on him, he gave it all to his Creator. Turned out to be the right choice. Slowly, he says, God started putting people in his life, and making things happen. Broken relationships with family and friends started to mend, and he received a second chance.
Even better, an opportunity opened up for Tony to play for hometown HBCU Edward Waters College. He joined the team in 2011, majored in Biology and hasn’t looked back since. That rise and fall is being used to motivate people around him. Each game, he’s given the nod from coaches to pray in the locker room or on the field, and bring the Word.
“I just sow seeds even if they don’t want to hear it. So, in those moments it can come back in their mind like ‘Hey, Tony told me this.”
When the Tigers had a lightning delay against Morehouse earlier in the season, all eyes were on the team chaplain. He told the story of David and Goliath, and how David wasn’t afraid of greatness – despite being looked over and counted out by his brothers. He reminded them that greatness was inside each and every one of them. They lost the game that day, but ultimately won in spirit.
Tony believes his calling is wrapped up in experiences like that. It’s not just about football. It’s about leading by example and helping others not make the same mistakes. When he isn’t taking extra reps, he serves as a pastor-in-training at Word of Faith Church on the Eastside of Jacksonville. He takes care of logistics when needed and teaches Bible study.
On the field, things are also paying off. On December 15th, Tony will play in the NAIA Senior Bowl in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When I asked him his overall goal, he told me: “Being able to go back and get my family and also other young men in similar situations that people gave up on. Giving them another chance. Helping them like someone helped me.”
With that attitude and humility, I know God will create a smooth path and get him where he wants to go. If you see Tony, now you know: he’s preaching with purpose.