Football Star Danny Abramowicz Honored With Mother Angelica Award

The former All-Pro wide receiver is the producer and co-host of EWTN’s ‘Crossing the Goal’ TV series.

EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw (l) presents the 2022 Mother Angelica Award to Danny Abramowicz.
EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw (l) presents the 2022 Mother Angelica Award to Danny Abramowicz. (photo: EWTN)

Former NFL great Danny Abramowicz, who was an All-Pro wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints, has had an even more rewarding career off the field as the head of Crossing the Goal ministries, a national evangelization outreach serving Catholic men, with a special focus on those ages 25 to 40. 

The producer and co-host of the EWTN television series Crossing the Goal, Abramowicz is this year’s recipient of the Mother Angelica Award, which EWTN presents annually to recognize individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving the Church and bringing others to a deeper relationship with God. He recently spoke to the Register about the award and his ministry.


How did you react when EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw called you with the news that you would receive the Mother Angelica Award?

I was overwhelmed. I got tears in my eyes because I knew Mother personally. I thought the world of her and served on the board for a long time. I said, “Mike, are you sure you’ve got the right person?” So I’m honored, thrilled and overwhelmed.


One of the many qualities Mother Angelica was known for was her toughness. As a former football player, were you able to relate to her in that way?

Coming from a steel mill-coal mining town (about 60 miles southeast from Mother Angelica’s hometown of Canton, Ohio) and playing sports, you learn that you just never quit. You keep fighting, no matter what happens. You better be mentally, physically tough. That drove me all through my football career. 

But in our world, we need spiritually tough people. Mother Angelica was spiritually tough. She didn’t back down from anybody. She was as tough as nails, but she was loving. 


You had done a previous series for EWTN, where you started off doing some physical workouts as a way to introduce the idea of being spiritually fit. How did Crossing the Goal come about?

Doug Keck came to me and said, “We’d like you to do another show.” And I said, “Doug, I don’t want to do another talking head. Let me pray on this.” And I went to adoration, and the Lord said, “What do men like?” and I said, “Men like sports.” And he said, “What’s the most-watched program?” and I said, ‘ESPN Sports Center.” And he said, “Do that.”  

It was my wife [Claudia, who died earlier this year, after 56 years of marriage] who came up with the name. I was thinking “Red Zone” and all these other things, and she said, “What about Crossing the Goal?” — which was tremendous because crossing into heaven is what we all want to do.


Crossing the Goal debuted on EWTN in 2008. Why do you think it has been so successful?

If we had come out in suits and ties with our Bibles and just started preaching, I don’t think guys would have bought into it. If you look at our set, it looks like Sports Center. We also make it personal. We talk [in the show’s “Red Zone” segment] about our ups and downs, the mistakes that we’ve made, the sins that we’ve committed. It’s a battle every day.


You say the No. 1 problem facing the Catholic Church today is the lack of male spirituality. What do you mean by that?

When you look around in so many churches, there’s a woman in the pew with two or three children, but there’s no guy there. He’s back watching the NFL game or whatever. He’s supposed to be the spiritual head of his family. So what happens is, when [his] young boy grows up and gets married and has kids, what does he remember? He’s going to tell his wife, “I’m going to drop you off and pick you up after Mass.” A lot of men, they don’t know who they are, deep down inside. 

What I’ve always told our kids and grandkids is that we live by the three Fs — faith, family, friends. It has to be in that order. To me, the good thing that comes from our show is that guys look into themselves, interiorly, and say, “Am I what I really want to be? Am I a solid husband? Am I a good father?”


You talk in your testimonies about a low point in your life that set your conversion in motion. What was going on in your life at that time?

I was an alcoholic. I’d seen drinking in my family [growing up], and here I was drinking. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle success. My dad was a fireman. We didn’t have much money. But we had love, and there was food on the table and all that. But once I started having success, I went the wrong way. I still went to Mass; I never did stop going to Mass. But I’d go out and get half-smashed and come home to my wife, and she would be so disappointed. And I’d say, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry.”

And then, finally, I came home one night, smashed, and went to bed. And the next morning I woke up and something was different. I looked at my wife in the bed. And I went into the rooms of our three children and looked at each one of these beautiful children. Then I went to shave, and I looked in the mirror for the first time, really, into my eyes, down into my soul. And it was black as coal. Everything that I thought a man should stand for, I wasn’t that person. And I said, “Lord, please help me.” And I went to a friend, who ended up sending me to go to a [AA] meeting. And I called my brother and said, “Let’s go; you’re a drunk, too. Both of us.”

We went to the meeting. And that was Dec. 15, 1981. And neither one of us has had a drink since.


You try to inspire men to be “spiritually fit.” Starting any kind of fitness program can be incredibly difficult. What advice can you give men who are struggling with developing a new faith routine?

Keep doing it. Don’t give up. Make sure you surround yourself with other guys. Don’t do it by yourself. You need to be around other men.


You must meet a lot of men in your public appearances who tell you how your show or your speeches have helped them. Do you hear from women, too?

You know, I do this for the greater honor and glory of God; that’s the driving force. Because he says, “Without me, you can do nothing.” He didn’t say “some things”; he said “nothing.” I know that. But sometimes, I guess, we need a pat on the back or something. I’ll run into a wife, especially, who will say, “You impacted my husband, which has impacted our family. And I want to thank you so much, because this is a totally different man.”