“In high school I played quarterback and also did some special teams, just as a punter,” he said. “Back then it was whoever wanted to do it. Lee got me inspired. In my brother’s senior year in high school, he was in a state championship football game. Football became a passion to me and those guys were my heroes.”
Buford said football in Texas in a small town was the life for many people.
“When we would travel, football was a way of life,” Buford said. “In my junior year at Mount Pleasant, college scouts would come scout players and they happened to watch me, and Texas Tech became very interested in me.”
Texas Tech eventually offered Buford a scholarship to play for them.
“Texas Tech is a great location even though a lot of people would not agree with me,” he said. “I was a member of the parish there on campus so my faith life was very important in college as well.”
Buford started all four years as a punter in college and led the nation as a punter his freshman season.
“I was selected All-Southwest Conference team three of my years there,” he said. “My proudest achievements were to be chosen on the Academic All-American team also. That was my job to do well in school since Tech was paying for me to go to school and the least I could do was go to class, show up and give my best effort. That’s what I tell my children, that their job is to make good grades. College life is all about time management. I wanted to give my best job in the classroom.”
Buford said prayer was a major part of his spiritual life.
“I would always pray before a ballgame and during the week,” he said. “I would never pray to win or be the best player out on field. I think God has more important things to deal with than a sporting game or to see who wins or loses a ballgame. I would pray to keep my teammates safe and to pray for them to be free of any injuries. I would also pray that I go out there and give my best efforts and thank God for giving me talents and the drive to play and win. I thank God for giving me the passion to play as well.”
Buford said many athletes take their gifts for granted.
“A lot of athletes have talent but they don’t use it,” he said. “You have to have drive also and I thank God because he gave me both of those. A lot of athletes take their talents for granted. They just think they have to show up, but it takes more than that. As a team we would gather around and say the Lord’s prayer before kickoff.”
(Story continues below)
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Buford graduated from Texas Tech in 1982 and was drafted in the eighth round by the San Diego Chargers. He played three years with them and then was traded to Chicago.
“The first thing I thought after being traded to the Chicago Bears was how am I going to stay warm,” Buford said. “At that time, I thought it was worst thing that happened to me, being traded, but it turns out it was the greatest thing that happened to me. In my first season we won the Super Bowl. It just goes to show you that God has his ways that are better than our ways. We have to trust Him. Professionally, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
“It was a blessing to be on that 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl,” he said.
In 1987 he was cut in training camp and played for the New York Giants for awhile before returning to the Bears again.
“From a money standpoint, we made good money but not like now,” he said. “People always ask me today if I am envious of the money players make today. I am not at all envious because all football players are just one injury away from losing their careers.”
Buford said prayer played an important role for many NFL players.