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SPORTS: Former NFL coach to speak on 9/11

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
HENDERSON, Nev. (BP)--Former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel will be the guest speaker at the Las Vegas-area Green Valley Baptist Church in Henderson on Sept. 11 for a special service honoring first-responders.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Fassel was an eyewitness to the collapse of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers, watching from the roof of Giants Stadium where his office was located.

Four days later, he was invited to walk through Ground Zero as a show of support to victims and their families.

Fassel, now head coach of the Las Vegas Locos in the United Football League, has raised more than $1 million for first-responders through his Jim Fassel Foundation.

At Green Valley Baptist Church, Fassel will display a trophy he was given by workers at Ground Zero, made from metal collected there. Just four trophies were made, given to President George W. Bush, NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and Coach Fassel.

David Simpson, Green Valley's worship pastor, said he read a Las Vegas Review-Journal article last year about Fassel and his involvement with the events of 9/11. Though Simpson had never met Fassel, he wrote the coach a letter inviting him to speak at the church as part of a first-responders day on Sept. 11, 2011. Fassel accepted.

"On Sept. 11, 2001, it became apparent to all Americans just how valuable first-responders are," Simpson said. "Because the 10th anniversary of this tragedy falls on a Sunday, we're fashioning our worship service to show our appreciation for these men and women."

The church has invited local firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians to attend.

"We're hoping that because we have someone like Coach Fassel, who had such a strong connection with 9/11, that it would draw a lot of people to come to our church," Simpson said.


The service will begin with a time of remembrance of Sept. 11 and senior pastor Rob Boyd leading a prayer for U.S. troops. Simpson said Fassel will speak for about 15 minutes, and the church would then have a time of recognition, prayer and presentation of special Bibles to first-responders in attendance.

Simpson said the church's choir will sing and Boyd will give a short message in which he'll present the Gospel, telling the congregation that when they can't turn to anyone else, they can turn to God.

"Living in the city of Las Vegas, we want our policemen, firemen, EMTs and others to know that we are thankful for the courage they display each and every day," Boyd said. "Our desire is simply to say 'thank you' to these brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve and protect the people in our city."


Tim Ellsworth is editor of BPSports ( and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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