Enis Distances himself from God Squad; Bears RB Dumps Religious Agent

New York Post/June 13, 1999
By Jay Glazer

Stop me if you've heard this story before. High-profile college star enters the NFL, misses rookie training camp while negotiating an absurd contract, teammates hate him, fans hate him, coaches hate him before bowing out of his rookie campaign prematurely with an injury.

Sound familiar? It happens every year. Bears running back Curtis Enis, the fifth pick in last year's draft, knows this story all too well. After a torn ACL ended his horrific rookie season, he is now trying to rewrite the next chapter. While several players mired in trouble claim to have "found religion," Enis has taken the opposite approach. His first step in rehabilitating his tarnished image was to fire Greg Feste, an agent affiliated with the Champions For Christ - an agency that uses religion as a selling point - and hired New York-based Joel Segal of Worldwide Entertainment and Sports Corp. Hmm, a player turning away from a religious group to help his image - that certainly classifies as a new story.

"I felt I needed to make a change," Enis told the Post in a phone interview this week. "I certainly didn't make the most of my opportunity last year. I walked into this situation with no loyalty to the Bears. I should have gone to camp on time. I didn't appreciate being in the NFL like I should have, especially coming from this tiny town in Ohio to where I was at that point. I took advantage of the opportunity."

Enis' decision to hire Feste last year spawned an intense and highly publicized debate over religion and its role in sports. Instead of commenting on the issue, his image took a pounding and he was eventually looked at as a religious freak following a cult.

"All that stuff that was being said to the media about me, I have to emphasize that none of it came from me or my wife," the former Penn State star reacted. "I believe in God and feel I need God in my life every day, yes. But that was not why I signed with them. I just clicked with them as people. It had nothing to do with religion but more to do with guys with the type of principles I want to have in my home with my wife and child. It got crazy because I never answered back when things were said.

"I think I was taken advantage of also to help bring more attention to them. I explained to them that I didn't want any attention being brought to this. But someone was talking to the media and it wasn't me or my wife. Why didn't I answer back to all the stuff being said? I knew people were going to write and say what they wanted regardless so I decided to focus on what I knew was true. I don't regret how I handled the situation because I learned so much from it."

Aside from his image as a member of the God Squad - a derogatory term used by some players toward ultra-religious players in locker rooms - Enis was also bashed by the team's former coaches as being difficult to coach and ripped by teammates for being selfish.

"I never once was an uncoachable person," Enis fired back. "I think they were upset that I held out so they said that to justify not starting me. Then they said I talked back to them. When I heard the coaches leak that out, I got really low."

Enis feels his change of approach has won back some Bears but understands the road to repair is likely to be longer than Michigan Ave. In hiring Segal, who reps five other Penn State players, and firing the controversial Feste, who has since resigned as an agent, he hopes the negative issues centering on his rookie decisions will soon lie down and die.

"I know I have to prove it to my teammates and the fans with actions and not words," said Enis. "I'm trying to get out more than I did last year to meet more fans, sign autographs. I think some of my teammates have begun to accept me more because they've seen how hard I've worked this off-season to recover from my knee injury. The coaches asked for me to get my weight down from 250 to 235, Bam! I did that immediately. I want to play football the way Mr. [George] Halas intended when he put the Bears here."

While tales of players supposedly changing their ways is as common as a John Elway comeback, hopefully, Mr. Halas will have reason to be proud.

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