Tony Dungy, twice Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame coach, spoke at the 50th Annual March for Life in Washington DC on Friday, using society’s reaction to Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest to explain why every life is «important to God and to others.» God’s eyes».
Dungy announced Thursday that he and his wife, Lauren, would appear in the nation’s capital for the March for Life, for the first time, «to support unborn babies who have no voice.»
In his speech he recalled the reaction Hamlin received after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field during Buffalo Game of the Week 17 against the Bengalis.
TONY GUNFY TO ATTEND MARCH FOR LIFE, DUBBED RIGHT EXTREMIST
«It amazes me that God has actually used football to shed some light on the subject of life for all of us. Three weeks ago, during a game in Cincinnati, something happened that shocked our entire country. A young Damar Hamlin of Buffalo Bills made a routine tackle and his heart stopped right on the field,» Dungy began.
«It could have been tragic, but something miraculous happened. The team’s medical staff ran out, they got Damar’s heart working again, but you know what? That wasn’t the real miracle. The real miracle was everyone’s reaction to that». .»
Hamlin, a second-year safety for the Bills, spent a week in the ICU at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center before being transferred to the hospital in Buffalo, where he was later released.
Dungy pointed to the countless thoughts and prayers that flooded Hamlin.
«And all over the country, people began to pray.»
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He also specifically mentioned the time when the Bills players gathered on the field for a team prayer – a moment that was widely shared on social media and television broadcasts. But Dungy recalled a different reaction to a similar situation when he was a coach in the NFL.
“When I was coaching in the 1990s, some Christian players got together and said, ‘We want to pray after games.’ And we actually got a memo from the NFL office that said, ‘Don’t let your players do that. If you do, you will be fined, because that’s not appropriate.'»
The game was temporarily postponed for over an hour before the NFL declared it a void, even with strong playoff implications.
«Something incredible happened that night. A professional football game with millions of dollars in tickets and advertising at stake – that game was cancelled. Why? Because a life was on the line and people wanted to see that life saved.» Dungy continued.
«That should be encouraging to us, because that’s exactly why we’re here today because every day innocent lives are on the line. The only difference is that they don’t belong to a famous athlete and they don’t get seen on national TV.» But those lives are still important to God and in the eyes of God.»
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Dungy’s appearance at the March for Life rally sparked controversy on social media, including from Dave Zirin, sports editor for «The Nation.»
«Dungy has spent years as an anti-gay fanatic while the NFL and NBC barely blink an eye,» Zirin wrote Thursday.
«He publicly and proudly said he wouldn’t want gay footballer Michael Sam on his team. He said more than a decade ago that he disagreed with the ‘lifestyle’ of Jason Collins, the first active gay male player in the top four. Northern players. American sports. This is a Dungy staple, calling being LGBT a «lifestyle,» even after people have repeatedly told him how hurtful and outdated that description is. He just doesn’t care.»
Dungy trained the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008 after coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for six seasons. As head coach, he made the playoffs in all but three seasons.