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Football team chaplain shares a forever bond with Bobby Bowden

Posted at 12:18 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 14:04:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — For over three decades, Clint Purvis has served as team chaplain for the Florida State football team, building relationships with players, staff and of course, the coaches. Purvis became one of Bobby Bowden's closest confidants, even after coach Bowden retired in 2009, and he said losing coach is something that will take time to accept.

"There's a big void and emptiness in this world right now. I can't explain it," he said Thursday. "Just an emptiness and a void without his presence here. That'll take some adjusting to."

For Purvis, his relationship with Bowden was a special one.

"Apart from my mom and dad and my sisters, there's no one on the face of this earth, that I love more than him."

Purvis is the team chaplain for the Florida State football team, a position he held for 21 years under coach Bowden, one that had he not took a chance on a post-it note, he never would have had.

"I was at my church here at First Baptist and I went off to speak and came back and there was a post-it on my door and it said call coach Bowden at such and such number," he recalled. "I look at it and said I'm no fool. I thought it was a gag, and threw it in the trash can."

A week later, the same note, with the same number. This time he called, and the rest, is history. Decades of moments shared with coach Bowden.

"To this day, I know of no former players that don't consider him a father figure and look up to him," he said. "He saw past their numbers, and into the heart."

And that is what, for Purvis, made coach Bowden so special.

"A sermon may only last for thirty minutes on a Sunday. A read may only last 15-20 minutes if it's a devotional, but I saw it in his life being lived out 24/7," he said. "We have lost a voice in the wilderness that could speak to people that wouldn't normally listen."

A voice that Purvis never saw waiver.

"He could be a king with the kings, and he could be a prince with the paupers. Who he was and what he did and how he was the same. He treated the people down here with the same respect and love with the people down here."

A voice that will be missed.

"Last thing we did is have prayer and he hugged my hand, and I told him that I loved him and I walked out the door. I will miss him so, very, very much."

Missed, but never forgotten. Purvis says he will not speak at coach Bowden's funeral on Saturday, but he will be in attendance to say goodbye.