'89 Giants pro-life video a courageous legacy for Tebow's Super Bowl ad
A 9-minute pro-life video featuring six members of the New York Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI is similar to the ad expected from Tebow, without the surrounding firestorm.
Wellington Mara, the son of the Giants' founder, was co-owner of the team until his death in 2005. Along the way, he became an iconic figure in the NFL and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mara also was staunchly pro-life, serving on the board of the American Life League.
In 1989, Mara helped produce "Champions for Life," which featured highlights from the Super Bowl matchup between the Giants and the Denver Broncos in 1986, the year before Tebow was born.
Former Giants quarterback and CBS analyst Phil Simms said Feb. 2 his appearance in the video was the right thing to do.
"You do what you believe in, and I respected Mara and had great faith in him. I thought the world of him, and he asked me to do something for him, and it was something I believed in at the time, so I did it," Simms told Baptist Press during media day activities ahead of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
A LOOK BACK
The first player to speak in the Giants video was tight end Mark Bavaro, whose trademark was to motion the sign of the cross after touchdowns.
"At the end of the game, all the Giants players left the field champions. Now with the abortion death squads allowed to run rampant through our country, I wonder how many future champions will be killed before they see the light of day," Bavaro said.
Defensive end George Martin sacked Broncos quarterback John Elway in the end zone for a safety during Super Bowl XXI, turning the game around.
"I'm glad I was able to help turn the tide in the Super Bowl with that safety. I hope and pray that the Supreme Court has begun to turn the tide against the legalized destruction of babies allowed by the Roe v. Wade decision," Martin, an African American, said in the video.
"That infamous decision said that unborn babies have no rights, just as the shameful Dred Scott decision said that black people have no rights. I hope you will help right this terrible wrong."
Wide receiver Phil McConkey was tackled just short of the end zone after a 44-yard designed play during the game. But he later caught a pass in the end zone that deflected off intended receiver Mark Bavaro's fingertips.
"All my life I dreamt of scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and at that moment I thought sure I'd lost my chance. But later, in the 4th quarter, I got another chance and my lifelong dream was realized," McConkey said. "I've always said, 'As long as you have life in you, you've got a chance.' Unfortunately, when you take the life of a baby by abortion, it will never have a chance."
Guard Chris Godfrey alluded in the video to a touchdown in the 3rd quarter that increased the Giants' lead to more than two touchdowns.
"It took only 20 seconds to run that play and killed any chance they had in that game. In that same 20 seconds, an American baby was killed by abortion," Godfrey said. "Every 20 seconds of every minute of every hour of every day. Since Roe v. Wade, over 25 million American babies have been killed -- one every 20 seconds."
Simms set a record for highest completion percentage in a Super Bowl, going 22 for 25, and was the landslide winner of the Most Valuable Player award.
"When I woke up the next morning and read those statistics in the paper, I was very pleased and proud. But there was another statistic in the paper that morning that didn't get the same coverage the Super Bowl got. I guess they thought it wasn't very important," Simms said. "It was just a little item that stated there are an average of 4,400 babies killed every day by abortion, or about 1,600,000 killed every year. Suddenly my statistics seemed very insignificant."
Nose tackle Jim Burt appears in the video with his son hoisted upon his shoulders.
"Winning the Super Bowl was one of the two top things that happened in my life. Here's No. 1," Burt said of his son before the boy leaned down and said, "I love you, Dad. It's great to be alive."
After quoting from the preamble to the United Nations' Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the United States' Declaration of Independence relating to the protection of life, the narrator closed the video by saying, "One of every three pregnancies is ended by abortion. If the abortionists had their way, which two of these Giants might never have had the chance to be champions?
"Those whose voices will prevail are those who offer a message," the narrator said. "The people who would put an end to the slaughter of unborn children have the best message in the world: life itself. These people are the true champions, champions for life."
A LOOK AT THE PRESENT
Because of the era in which it was released, distribution of the Champions for Life video was limited largely to church and pro-life groups across the country. It didn't have a chance to go viral on YouTube or be widely maligned by groups that opposed its message.
The Super Bowl advertisement expected this Sunday from Focus on the Family featuring Tebow, a former University of Florida quarterback, and his mother Pam has been subjected to scrutiny the Giants video didn't undergo.
"There's nothing you can do that you're not going to have somebody on one side upset at you," Simms told Baptist Press. "... The difference between now and then is dramatic. Nobody paid attention back then. Now every word you say and everything you do, especially when you're Tim Tebow, draws great attention."
While pointing out the pitfalls, Simms, who will be part of the Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, still affirmed Tebow's decision.
"I think he did it for all the right reasons."
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press. With reporting by sports correspondent Art Stricklin. To watch the Champions for Life video, visit http://www.vimeo.com/1160914.