Speaking Friday (Jan. 20) at his first March for Life in Washington, D.C., football analyst and NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy highlighted the sport’s recent testimony to the importance of human life.
At the event marking the 50th anniversary of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade, the outspoken Christian referenced the life-threatening emergency involving Buffalo Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin.
Tony Dungy: Every Life Is Important to God
“It’s amazing to me that God actually used football to shine some light on the subject of life for all of us,” Dungy said, referencing the January 2 Monday night game in Cincinnati. “Damar Hamlin…made a routine tackle, and his heart stopped beating right on the field. It could’ve been tragic, but something miraculous happened. The team medical staff rushed out, they got Damar’s heart started again, but you know what? That wasn’t the real miracle. The real miracle was the reaction of everyone to that,” when “all across the country, people started praying.”
The contest between two playoff contenders was eventually cancelled, which Dungy called “unbelievable” because “millions of dollars of ticket money and advertising money [were] on the line.” The reason? “Because a life was at stake, and people wanted to see that life saved.”
Dungy told March for Life attendees to feel encouraged by that turn of events. “That’s exactly why we’re here today,” he said, “because every day innocent lives are at stake. The only difference is they don’t belong to a famous athlete, and they’re not seen on national TV. But those lives are still important to God and in God’s eyes.”
When Dungy announced last week via tweet that he and his wife, Lauren, would attend the march, he said they wanted “to support those unborn babies who don’t have a voice.”
Critics Call Tony Dungy’s Views Extreme
Dungy’s appearance at the pro-life gathering led to pushback by critics, including sports editor Dave Zirin. “I’m done with Tony Dungy and the way the NFL and NBC coddle his right wing extremism,” he tweeted. In an article, Zirin called Dungy “an anti-gay bigot” and blasted the league and TV network for “celebrating” him as “nearly a patron saint.” He contrasted that to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt to protest racial injustice and became “a pariah.”
On Twitter last week, Dungy also posted but then deleted a tweet about “students who identify as cats,” which some people blasted as “transphobic.” Dungy later apologized, writing, “As a Christian I want to be a force for love to everyone. A force for healing and reconciliation—not for animosity.”