Sunday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Field, Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien participated in the Heart Health Foundation's third annual charity flag football game.
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One of the things Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien remembers about the great Redskins teams of the 1980s and early 1990s, before free agency began, was the tight-kit relationships he developed with his teammates.
Many years later, those bonds remain strong, and for a good cause, too.
Rypien, along with the only other two Redskins Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Joe Theismann and Doug Williams, participated in the third annual "Huddle Up For Healthy Hearts," a charity flag football game held Sunday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to raise money and awareness for the Heart Health Foundation.
"To get all three of us together is quite unique," said Rypien, who guided the Redskins to their third Super Bowl in 1992. "We have three guys that have taken us to the promised land, and to be all together out here for such a worthy cause, the awareness to prevent cardio vascular [disease], particularly abdominal aortic aneurisms, is great."
More than 20 others, including a new addition to the team, Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams, played in the game after donating $500 to the foundation, with many participants coming from around the DMV area.
Williams and Rypien captained and quarterbacked the opposing teams while Theismann, who lamented his inability to throw like his counterparts, snapped the ball and helped organize the contest.
"Perfect event. It turned out to be a terrific day," Theismann said. "The most disappointing thing for me is that I can't throw anymore. It just kills me. I see Ryp throw it around and Doug throw it around. Doug's getting closer to where I am. Ryp's still got a rocket for an arm when he gets it loose. I know they're both going to be sore tomorrow."
Besides the football (Rypien can still sling it), the opportunity to spread awareness for the foundation – it collaborates with "Dare to C.A.R.E.," a vascular screening and education program -- is something that has impacted both Theismann and Rypien personally.
"My dad and both my grandfathers died at 52 of a heart attack," Rypien said. "Make sure you can get tested – especially this, this is 100 percent preventable. Abdominal aortic aneurisms are preventable. If people just get checked and make sure everything's flowing the way it should be flowing, their sonograms, their corroded arteries, their abdomen and their lower extremities, to see that things are flushing the way they should, because if they're not, it can be fixed."
Theismann echoed his emphasis.
"My daughter had heart surgery, my father's had it, my mother's had it, my mother-in-law's had it, so there's a lot of heart awareness and I appreciate the opportunity to do it," he said. "Go get screened. That would be my message to anyone out there. If you have a history of it, just go get it done and you'll find out where you are."
Dr. John Martin, who began the foundation in Annapolis, Md., 15 years ago, organized the event and is looking forward to expanding its reach further throughout the country, and eventually internationally.
"What makes it special is the quarterbacks, and now [adding] Brandon to the family, giving their time for the cause," Martin said. "I think they passionately believe in what we're doing. I think that's what makes the difference. It touches everyone in this country. Either you get it or you know somebody that has it. I think what's most important about that is it's preventable. That's our mission. Our mission is to get out awareness, be able to change people's lives, find the disease before it finds you and get people the longest life while they possibly can."
Find out more about the Heart Health Foundation here.