By John W. Kennedy
Derrick Gunn needed a job after graduating with a social science degree from Imperial Valley College in California. One of his football coaches from the school told him about an opening at a nearby television station in El Centro. At the interview, the station’s general manager hired him as sports director on the spot.
“If you had given me a list of 20 options of what I wanted to do, this would have been at the bottom of the list,” Gunn says. He says he spent his first several months stumbling all over the place while reporting highlights and scores.
Nevertheless, Gunn’s skills and talent increased and he kept being hired in better sportscasting jobs in bigger markets: San Diego, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and, since 1997, in Philadelphia.
Gunn, 46, anchors SportsNite for Comcast SportsNet, a regional 24-hour sports channel seen in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Although he covers all sports, football is his primary beat, with the Philadelphia Eagles his chief focus. During the season he travels with the team and reports Eagles Post Game LIVE for Comcast, which also owns everything from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Golf Channel. Depending on the magnitude of the game — and whether the Eagles win or lose — Gunn interviews eight to 12 players outside the locker room after the contest.
Ever since he began his sports broadcasting career a quarter century ago, Gunn has attended Assemblies of God churches. He rededicated his life to Christ in 1979 after his future wife, Trish, shared the importance of a personal relationship with the Lord.
The couple and their three teenage children — Ana-Lisa, Cristina and Jordan — now attend First Assembly of God in Wilmington, Del., where Trish is children’s pastor and district coordinator for the Junior Bible Quiz program. Gunn helps her in areas such as coaching, timers and scorekeeping.
“What I do for a living is a big test of one’s faith,” Gunn says. “It entails a lot of what the Bible tells us we should stay away from: sharp tongues, speaking ill of others, petty jealousy, slander and in some cases adultery. A lot of times I have to sit at my desk and pray, Lord keep me out of getting caught up in this.”
Gunn tries to impress upon his co-workers that they don’t have to continue in the patterns they have known for years, including continually going to nightclubs and bars to find multiple partners to date.
“I tell them when they feel in trouble to stop and pray about it,” Gunn says. “When you do things on impulse it usually turns out wrong. But if you stop and wait for God to tell you what to do, He will never fail you.”
Over the years Gunn hasn’t cared for too many coaches he’s known because they are such taskmasters. But in retrospect he appreciates their goals. Like a parent, they are trying to help young people they are mentoring to put forth a better and stronger effort, both physically and mentally.
Gunn tries to remain patient and serene, even in the midst of yelling coaches and players.
“When you encounter confrontation with a boss or co-worker, if you return venom for venom you never come to a resolution,” Gunn says. “But if you have a calm demeanor and you talk to the other person as a human being you’ll get better results. Nobody really solves anything with fists. You may win the fight, but you won’t win the war.”
Despite his hectic schedule, Gunn puts a great deal of energy into his family and church life.
“In a lot of ways I find more rewarding the ministries I help my wife run than my everyday job because we are feeding kids God’s Word,” Gunn says.
John W. Kennedy is news editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
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