The NFL has selected James Martin, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, as one of three honorary captains to take part in Sunday’s coin toss during Super Bowl LV.
Every year, the NFL chooses honorary captains who have helped make a difference in their communities to participate in the coin toss, which determines the team that gets the ball first.
“I’m absolutely astonished, humbled and surprised,” Martin, who lives in Pittsburgh, told Fox News of the NFL’s decision.
He said that through the NFL’s decision to select him as an honorary captain, “people can see that there are still ways — even though there’s a pandemic — to give back and answer the call when people need help,” naming the Wounded Warrior Project and Veterans Breakfast Club in particular as organizations that are assisting veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martin, a father to eight collective kids with his wife, helped veterans stay in touch as the virus kept people from gathering in social settings.
BLACK COORDINATORS MAKE SUPER BOWL HISTORY WITH BUCCANEERS
Martin joined the Marines in 2000, served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, until 2015 when he qualified for medical retirement after being injured and paralyzed from the waist down.
“I worked with Wounded Warrior Project. We opened up a Discord. It was meant to virtually connect veterans together during the pandemic,” Martin said. “We knew there was a large population of our veterans that we served that played video games, and this was one of the ways we could not only connect with them but to still be able to provide services and do programs with.”
Martin is involved with the Veterans Breakfast Club, an organization dedicated to sharing veterans’ stories from “the little guy…in the tench,” and hosts a weekly podcast called “The Scuttlebutt” that provides an informed discussion about the military experience.
The pandemic has taken a toll on many veterans separated from friends and loved ones.
“It’s dark. It’s very trying,” he said. “We have people who are already battling demons. The last thing we need is to be socially isolated and away from absolutely everybody. So this is a means for us to connect and stay together, and even though we couldn’t be together physically, we could still do things together virtually.”
ROB GRONKOWSKI SURPRISES FOUR HEALTHCARE WORKERS WITH TICKETS TO SUPER BOWL LV
Martin also recorded online viewings of football and basketball games at the school where his wife works so family members could watch from home.
Staff at the school knew Martin had been streaming video games for veterans and asked if he could livestream the sporting events.
‘CAPTAIN TOM,’ 100-YEAR-OLD VETERAN WHO RAISED MILLIONS FOR COVID RELIEF, HOSPITALIZED WITH VIRUS
“I wasn’t really sure if I knew how to do it in the first place, but I agreed to it because it needed to be done. It was something that those kids needed and they deserved it,” he said. “Why not showcase their talents whenever the rest of the crowd couldn’t be there?”
People in the community have been grateful for Martin’s efforts to connect families and veterans despite COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
The Marine veteran said his “heart of hearts” is “going for the Chiefs” against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
The NFL also selected educator Trimaine Davis and nurse manager Suzie Dorner as honorary captains to take part in Sunday’s coin toss.
“During this incredibly challenging time in our lives, Trimaine, Suzie, and James have exemplified the essence of leadership, each in their own way,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We are grateful for their commitment and proud to share their stories and recognize them during this special moment on Super Bowl Sunday.”