John Bramlett's alcohol-fueled anger got him kicked out of pro-baseball, caused him to abuse his wife and two sons, and even landed him in jail. But he became a Christian and 40 years later his story, which has reportedly inspired thousands of people, will be preserved in an upcoming documentary.
"To say 'I saw a miracle happen before my eyes,' is an understatement," Andy Bramlett, son of John "The Bull" Bramlett and project manager of the documentary "Taming the Bull," told the Christian Post in a Tuesday interview. His father had tried drugs, alcohol, and women, but he finally found peace in Jesus Christ.
John Bramlett had always been aggressive, Andy said. In high school football, he overcame the disadvantage of small size with forceful tackling. When the Dallas Cowboys rejected him because he was too small, the athlete turned to baseball.
But the same belligerence that suited him in football destroyed his baseball career. The son narrated how, on a day off from spring training, his father went out to a bar with his friends. After a particularly bloody fight in which he "nearly killed" a complete stranger, the St. Louis Cardinals "kicked him out of baseball, banned him for life."
After this rejection, however, Bramlett received a call from his old college coach in Memphis, offering a spot on the Denver Broncos. "He quit drinking, quit smoking, quit running around on my mom," got his weight up to 200 pounds, and joined the NFL, Andy recalled. In 1965, he was named runner-up American Football League "Rookie of the Year," behind Joe Namath.
Making an appearance at the Pro Bowl with both the Broncos and the Miami Dolphins, "The Bull" was named Most Valuable Player for the New England Patriots in 1970. Refusing to play for the Green Bay Packers, and after a final season with the Atlanta Falcons, he retired from football in 1972. Andy explained that teams quickly traded his father because his mean habits made him unreliable. This tendency also earned him the negative moniker "Meanest Man in Football."
Growing up with his father weighed heavily on Andy and his brother Don. Andy described their house as "a home of abuse." He recalled overhearing fights between his mother and father involving physical and verbal abuse. Despite this violence, the sons looked up to their father, making a deal that when they turned 18, they would "go out with him and get drunk and get in fights."
When John retired, his wife, Nancy, began attending a Bible study, and Andy recalled how she would badger her husband to turn to Jesus – writing in red lipstick on the mirror when he came home drunk.
After "the Bull" attended a revival, two men visited his home to talk about Christ. Andy recalled the story vividly.
"They said, 'John, you have two boys. If we asked you to give up one of those two boys to nail and kill for your sins, which would you give us?' He said, 'I'm not going to give you either one of them.' They said, 'you know, that's what Jesus did for you.'"
Shortly thereafter, the meanest man in football "poured out his alcohol, threw out all his cigarettes, and picked up my mom's Bible," Andy continued. When the reckless father reached John 3:16, the word "whosoever" reportedly grabbed him. "No matter what, I'm a whosoever," his son explained. "Honestly, he's never been the same."
Wary of another doomed "turnaround," Andy said he watched his father for two years, and only then did the son receive Jesus. Ever since, his father has travelled across the country to tell his story – speaking to prisons in Florida, witnessing "to ten up to ten thousand."
Grant Guffin, the documentary's producer, recalled one such testimony. When Guffin was in high school football, Bramlett came to speak. His reliance on Christ and the complete turnaround that followed inspired the entire crowd of teenagers. Guffin recalled that everyone on the team, except the three who were already Christian leaders, accepted the Gospel that night.
About 24 years later, someone approached him to tell the Bramlett story. Guffin then set out to capture "that power that I experienced that night as a high schooler" on film. Remarkably, big names in football like Joe Naman, who used to play against "The Bull," Tony Dungy, and Darrell Waltrip proved more than happy to share their experiences with him.
As one trailer explains, "Taming the Bull: The John Bramlett Story is a reminder that no addiction is too powerful to be broken, no marriage beyond repair, no life incapable of restoration, no situation without hope."