Tony dungy Aug 5, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; Tony Dungy at the Centennial Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The discussion over the value of prayer when it came to Damar Hamlin and his recovery from a cardiac arrest on the field a few weeks back has been worthwhile and reflective for a lot of people, whether they’re religious or not. That discussion, however, was always destined to be co-opted by those who might want to use the situation for their own gain or purpose. And that appears to be what former NFL coach and noted anti-gay bigot Tony Dungy went with on Friday when he invoked Hamlin during a rally in support of banning abortions nationwide.

Dungy, who got slammed earlier in the week for tweeting about a debunked urban myth meant to instill fear about transgender equality, appeared at the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington D.C. on Friday. Speaking to the audience, which wants to take away women’s rights to make choices for themselves, Dungy mentioned Hamlin’s recovery and then conflated a desire by football fans for Damar to be safe to people wanting abortion to be banned in America.

“Damar’s recovering now, he’s home, he’s been released from the hospital. But what’s the lesson in that? An unbelievable thing happened that night in a professional football game with millions of dollars of ticket money on the line. That game was cancelled. Why? Because a life was at stake. And people wanted to see that life saved. These are people who aren’t necessarily religious, they got together and called on God. Well, that should be encouraging us, because that’s exactly why we’re here. Because every day in this country, 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.”

The sports world didn’t much appreciate seeing the reaction around Damar Hamlin being co-opted to support a movement to take away rights from other Americans.

“I don’t have any problem with Tony Dungy’s political beliefs. They’re his. But I do take issue hiding behind Damar Hamlin to express them. What the hell does Hamlin have to do with this?” asked Alex Covington.

“Stick to sports or go full crackpot, Dungy. Using a potential on-field tragedy to prop up your antiquated views is shameful,” said Shelton Antle.

“Did he mention the litter boxes?” asked the Niagara Gazette’s Nick Sabato.

“I think if your conclusion from the Damar Hamlin situation is there needs to be fewer healthcare options then maybe you have piss for brains,” said Run The Damn Brian.

[Acyn, transcript by Awful Announcing]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to