Video: Men From Northeast Mississippi Get Challenged, Encouraged And Equipped At ‘Gridiron’

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA (WCBI) – Every Father’s Day weekend, 10,000 or so men turn Birmingham’s Legacy Arena, into a house of worship.

It is also a time of preaching and teaching.

It’s called “Gridiron.”

“The theme for Gridiron is level and we’re using the illustration of a level a man would use in carpentry as a picture of how he needs to have his life in balance,” said Dr. Phil Waldrep, of Phil Waldrep Ministries. He started the Gridiron conference as a way to encourage and equip Christian men to let their faith impact all areas of their lives. Dr. Waldrep says Gridiron is relevant and addresses many of the issues men are facing.

“What I am finding in our nation, is we are becoming a hopeless people and when people feel hopeless, and government can’t solve their problem and friends can’t solve their problem, it’s a great day to be a Christian because we get to share the only hope that will last for all eternity that’s found in Jesus Christ,” Dr. Waldrep said.

Among the speakers for this Gridiron conference, Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze, who sang part of a familiar hymn, and encouraged men to get their priorities in line.

“Coaching is not my purpose, it’s just my platform, I don’t know what your platform is, but that is not your purpose, your purpose, if you are a Kingdom man, is to be salt and light,” Coach Freeze said.

This year, Tupelo’s West Jackson Street Baptist Church brought more than 80 men to Gridiron.   Bruce Knight started coming to Gridiron eight years ago.  Bruce’s son Brandon was with him for several of the conferences, but last fall, Brandon, who was a well known cheer coach , passed away unexpectedly.  Bruce says his son would have wanted him to keep organizing the Gridiron trip.

“We know he’s in a better place, but he’s sitting there celebrating with God, and probably teaching the angels cheerleading tricks,” Knight said.

Whether they’re first timers, or veteran Gridiron participants, men say the conference is challenging and beneficial in many ways.

“It really encouraged me, hearing the Joshua verse, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord, that’s my desire to serve the Lord with my household,” said Chad Wilemon.

“There’s something to be said when 10,000 to 12,000 men get together and they sing, and they worship God, you feel the connection, the Holy Spirit, it just brings you together and makes you think that God is a reality,” said John Caruthers.

Caruthers has attended Gridiron four or five times and has a message for men sitting on the sidelines.

“Come to Gridiron next year, Father’s Day weekend,” he said.

Next year’s Gridiron will feature many well known speakers, and a first for Gridiron,  Charlie Daniels will be there.  For more information go to


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