After 13 years of relatively low-profile outreach to professional athletes, the Austin, Texas-based Champions for Christ (CFC) ministry received big publicity in a blitz that included Sports Illustrated, espn, and several newspapers and magazines.

Under other circumstances, the ministry would have welcomed the attention, but CFC has been accused of demanding a tithe from its members and improper involvement in contract talks between players, agents, and teams. "Ludicrous and untrue," says Dave Jamerson, CFC national representative, adding that the allegations reflect "a lack of understanding of Christian culture."

COMPLAINTS FILED? The brouhaha started with summer contract negotiations involving Chicago Bears rookie Curtis Enis, who, after being converted to Christianity in a CFC outreach, fired his agent, former Raiders' safety Vann McElroy, and hired a Christian financial planner who is a friend of CFC leaders.

By some accounts, McElroy's firm lodged complaints with the National Football League (NFL) about CFC's influence and tactics. By other accounts, the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars asked the league to investigate the ministry out of concern that CFC was asking players to give huge amounts of money to the organization.

The management of both teams declined interview requests, but NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello says CFC is "not an issue with this office—we don't deal with them." Aiello says the NFL has more concern about finances than faith issues. "There is a history of athletes being taken advantage of financially," he says.

Both the charges that CFC officially represents players and that it requires tithing from members have rankled the leadership of the nonprofit ministry, which emphasizes ...

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