Pastor Fred Luter of Franklin Baptist Church talks about how things might have been had he been a better basketball player, his admiration for Magic Johnson and why he tries to finish his sermons by noon.
What kind of athlete were you?
I was an average athlete. I loved playing sports, however I was not good enough to play past high school.
Do you ever consider that if you had been a little better, your life might have gone in an interesting direction?
Yes, indeed! Every former athlete sitting in front of a television sees ourselves hitting the game-winning 3-point shot or scoring the game-winning touchdown! As a matter of fact, every time I am at a Saints or Hornets game, I think about what could have been!
What’s your fitness regimen today?
Preaching in the pulpit for 30 to 35 minutes every Sunday morning! The way I preach — I assure you, it is quite a workout. I literally have to change shirts between services.
You’ve frequently done the invocation at Hornets games. Are you ever nervous about forgetting about what you intended to say, or, like most preachers, can you just wing it?
Do I get nervous before the invocation at a Hornets game? Yes, indeed! As a matter of fact, before I pray to the crowd in the arena, I first have a personal time of prayer to God that goes something like this: “God, please don’t let forget my prayer in front of all these people.”
Who was your favorite athlete when you were a kid and why?
Magic Johnson, because he was so competitive. His entire game was one that made the Lakers a championship team for a number of years. Besides that, his personality and laugh made him a very popular player with both players and fans alike.
Who is your favorite current athlete?
As a big Who Dat, I can not help but be a Drew Brees fan. Drew does not have the size of a lot of other quarterbacks around the league, but no other NFL quarterback will outwork him. Besides that, he led our beloved Saints to become Super Bowl champs!
Your second service on Sunday ends at noon. On days that’s also the kickoff time for Saints games, do you notice the congregation getting restless?
Not only was the congregation getting restless, I was getting nervous when I saw that my sermon was going past the noon dismissal time. No pastor or preacher likes to see people getting up and leaving while he’s preaching! Therefore, during football season, most of those members who knew they were going to the game came to our 7:30 a.m. service.
You’ve conducted Saturday chapel services for the Saints. Do you find the players to be attentive, or do they have their minds on the game?
All of the players are normally very attentive during the chapel service. The chapel services are optional for all Saints players; therefore, those players in the chapel service really want to be there.
What’s your Super Bowl pick?
Although I am an NFC guy and truly thank the 49ers for making sure the dirty birds of Atlanta will not be playing the Super Bowl in our Superdome, I still have a knot in my
stomach that the 49ers knocked us out of the playoffs last year. Therefore, I am pulling for the Ravens and (a) local product, safety Ed Reed, to win the Super Bowl.