Herbert Lusk, a former NFL player turned pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, died on Monday at the age of 69.
Lusk was an influential pastor who parlayed a pro football career into being a foot soldier in the Philly community after three years as a running back for the Philadelphia Eagles.
He was drafted in 1976 after playing college football at Long Beach State & Monterey Peninsula College. A year later, Lusk made history as the first NFL player to take a knee on the field and pray on October 9, 1977.
“I’m leaving the game very happy and very proud,” Lusk said at the time. “I don’t feel like I’m going to miss the game. I’m moving up to better things.”
He became a pivotal force in the North Philadelphia community, starting programs for the homeless, giving out food to residents in need, and ultimately opening the People for People Charter School on Broad Street in Center City.
Lusk’s church released a statement confirming his death.
“WITH GREAT SORROW, THE LUSK FAMILY ANNOUNCES THE TRANSITION FROM EARTH TO GLORY OF OUR BELOVED HUSBAND AND FATHER, REVEREND DR. HERBERT H. LUSK, II ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022,” THE STATEMENT READS.
“We praise God for the countless souls that now know Jesus and have been impacted by his 40 years of ministry and service in the great city of Philadelphia and throughout the world.”
Lusk left the NFL after three seasons and his life followed his faith.
A Life of Service
Darrell Clarke, Philadelphia City Council President, praised Rev. Lusk for his dedication to his community.
“North Philadelphia and our city lost a true friend yesterday: Reverend Herb Lusk has passed,” said Clarke. “From his early days as a running back for the Philadelphia Eagles through his long career as pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church on North Broad Street, Rev. Lusk always preached the universal truths of self-reliance and hard work.
“Rev. Lusk cared deeply about Philadelphia and its people. He truly ‘walked the walk’ of service in this life. Our deep condolences to his family and congregants.”