Coach Sullivan’s life and coaching career were defined by extreme moments, offensive attacks that defied conventional practice techniques to shock the conscience, hand to hand Mortal Kombat in a foxhole in the Pacific, and determination and death that devastated those around him. But possibly the most unexpected and extreme act of Sullivan’s entire life took place a few years before his death, out into the public eye, and in the privacy of his own heart, mind, and spirit.


Bobbie Sullivan

Bobby and I got to be probably teenagers, early teenagers. One morning, Sunday school time came and Bobby and I weren’t dressed to go, and my dad never went to church. And she said, Why aren’t you ready, and we were gonna stay with dad today. We’re gonna take on his faith today, David, that, and at that point, he was such a stickler for set by example, lead by example. Well, then he started going to Sunday school and church because he couldn’t give us an out so to speak.


Royce Sullivan

Mark killam was a preacher of the church at that time, and because he would meet Daddy, not as that sinful cursing football coach, but as an intelligent man. They talked about world events. That was the way he got interested, I believe,


Bobbie Sullivan

But he did go down and accept Christ at the altar. And it shocked the entire town. It shocked everybody in the church, you know, Bull Sullivan’s kneeling up there.


Royce Sullivan

So I was not there for that actual time. But you could tell that something had changed.


Lance Eiland

He would start going to revivals. And then he come back and have some preachers with and he would bring them to practice.


Bobbie Sullivan 

And then he wound up teaching some Sunday school classes, but his faith. That was another thing, it was just like, the anthropology was just like the football. He studied it. He read the Bible all the time he had he wrote notes.


Louie Spinks

Now, even though Coach Sullivan was a kind of rough around the edges with his language, Coach Sullivan was a fine Christian man.


Charlie Box

We had a meeting up in Columbus, and I can’t remember the year but he was still coaching. And we had a big dinner up there. He wanted to do this, it was his insistence that we do it. He wanted to get members from every team that ever played for him to come to that dinner. He said, while he was there, he said, I taught you a lot of football. I tried to teach you about being a man. But there’s something I left out and lifted out because I really didn’t know a lot about it myself. And he said that was about the Lord. And he said, I just, you know, really wasn’t right at that time. And he said, I wasn’t right with the Lord. But I’ve changed my life. And he wanted us to, to know that there was more to life and just playing football. And he wanted us to know about Jesus and try to go out and tell as many people as we could about him and


Bill Buckner

Always think about a person as a Christian, that were all under construction, and watch coach go through a change where he lived for Christ actually spoke. That didn’t change his toughness. He was you know, he was tough to the core,


Bobbie Sullivan

Yet, dad was able to forgive. And he was even able to forgive the President that had terminated him. And he was able to do that in a fairly short period of time after we were told to get out of town.


Gael Sullivan

And finally I just blurted out, Daddy, how in the world can you stand in? Aren’t you so angry and bitter about what happened to you? And he was actually trying to help my mother because she was having a lot of struggling with that same type level of forgiveness. But he had forgiven and was moving on. And he said, in order for you to be forgiven, you have to forgive. And he said, would you like to say your prayer? And I said yes. And I had to pull the car over because I was crying so hard. I couldn’t drive.


Bobbie Sullivan

He died deeply committed to his Christian faith. And forgiveness was what he was working on. The whole year before he died when he got fired. It was all about practicing, what he believed in