Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

No sports activities league does greater than the Nationwide Soccer League to encourage the stereotype of the glass-chewing, expletive-spewing coach. Tony Dungy, although, was extra Kenneth Parcell than Invoice Parcells – a soft-spoken, clean-cut ex-defensive again whose profitable pedigree and strategic ingenuity rightly earned him satisfaction of place among the many titans of his occupation. That Dungy can also be a Black pioneer makes him particularly helpful to commissioner Roger Goodell’s efforts to “shield the [NFL] defend” from the seasonal assaults on its timeless legacy of racial and gender inequality. Since transitioning to a lofty post-retirement position as co-host of NBC’s top-rated NFL telecasts, it’s been on the 67-year-old to serve up even-toned reassurances of the league’s dedication to honest play. However in the case of Dungy’s private views, the coach will fortunately discuss powerful.

Final Friday, Washington DC’s Nationwide Mall was the positioning of the March for Life, a pro-life rally that kicked off in 1974 – a yr after Roe v Wade was determined. Curiously, the rally was conceived by anti-abortionists on the left – first as a one off, then as a protest that may yearly recur till Roe v Wade was overturned. But it surely’s lengthy since been taken over by the appropriate and changed into a political soccer. In 2020 Donald Trump grew to become the primary sitting president to attend the occasion in particular person. Dungy’s maiden look for the fiftieth version of the March, the primary since Roe was overturned, was no much less noteworthy.

Studying from his iPhone, the coach, one in every of 20-odd keynote audio system, delivered a four-minute sermon on the facility of prayer and its means to compel nonbelievers to understand the importance of human life. He made a parable out of Damar Hamlin – the 24-year-old Buffalo Payments security whose coronary heart stopped beating after a routine sort out. The true miracle, Dungy intoned, wasn’t the resurrectional medical care Hamlin acquired on the sphere and in hospital that put him on observe for a full comeback. No, it was the TV cameras lingering on Buffalo and Cincinnati gamers knelt in prayer, the sort of devotion that the league as soon as threatened to nice his groups for. It was that sport getting canceled, regardless of its pressing on-field and monetary impacts, as a result of a life hung within the steadiness. “Even individuals who aren’t essentially spiritual bought collectively and known as on God,” Dungy stated. “Properly, that must be encouraging to us.”

Dungy’s phrases, whereas cheered by tens of 1000’s of revelers, weren’t as enthusiastically acquired off the Mall – not least his spouse, Lauren, ready within the wings to comply with him on stage and extol the virtues of adoption. Progressive sports activities pundits took specific exception to the coach utilizing Hamlin’s near-death expertise as a Trojan Horse for his views on the termination of unborn fetuses. Dave Zirin, the Nation’s venerable sports activities columnist, known as Dungy’s speech “obscene”. Beforehand, Keith Olbermann, the foundational ESPN sportscaster turned NBC politico, beseeched his former employer to chop ties with the coach. “He’s utilizing you,” Olbermann tweeted.

All of this got here after Dungy lit a firestorm earlier within the week with a scorching non-sports take. In response to a Each day Wire tweet about Minnesota home members pushing a invoice that may put menstrual merchandise in boys’ faculty loos, Dungy snarked, “some faculty districts are placing litter containers at school loos for college kids who establish as cats“ – furthering a exhaustively debunked anecdote that’s nonetheless grow to be in style with Lauren Boebert, Joe Rogan and different self-styled “free-thinkers”. Danny Kanell, a clipboard-holding QB turned sports-talk host, was one notable member of the NFL to publicly defend Dungy, calling him “morally upright” whereas bashing information tales suggesting in any other case as “hatred of Christianity”. However that wasn’t sufficient to cease the all-out social media blitz from overwhelming the Corridor of Fame coach.

Tony Dungy made headlines by talking on the fiftieth March for Life Rally on Friday on the Nationwide Mall in Washington DC. {Photograph}: Bonnie Money/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

After discreetly deleting his kitty litter jab and expressing contrition through a lawyered assertion, Dungy returned to Twitter on Saturday to apologize anew and reestablish himself as a universal-loving Christian. And the additional effort may’ve resonated if the coach hadn’t additionally included a screenshot of the second sorry word in quotes inside a textual content message bubble that one can solely presume was additionally generated by a spokesperson. Not surprisingly, the fumbled apology has given Dungy’s critics motive to pile on another time. Worse, you’d by no means know this was the identical coach who was as soon as so masterful at doing issues the appropriate manner.

As a professional within the Seventies, Dungy humbly accepted a conversion from quarterback to defensive again and have become a key contributor on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Tremendous Bowl dynasty in 1978. Within the early ’80s, after a three-year enjoying profession, he transitioned over to the Steelers’ defensive teaching workers, was promoted to coordinator, and took a demotion to defensive backs coach in stride after a tough dropping season.

By the mid-’90s, he was working the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and remodeling them from a league doormat to a defensive dynamo along with his Tampa 2 bend-but-don’t break protection. When he was ousted from that job in 2002, Dungy re-emerged with the Indianapolis Colts and turned that Peyton Manning-led juggernaut right into a championship winner – the primary directed by a Black head coach – with a 2007 victory in Tremendous Bowl XL in opposition to Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, one in every of an extended line of Black sideline generals to descend Dungy’s teaching tree. A decade in the past, the success of Dungy’s lineage was offered as the primary and final motive to rent non-white coaches.

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However someplace alongside the way in which, one thing in Dungy snapped. After his oldest son, James, took his personal life in 2005, the coach went from talking at conferences for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to fundraising for a suppose tank that opposes same-sex marriage. When Michael Sam, professional soccer’s first out homosexual participant, was drafted by the St Louis Rams in 2014, Dungy stated he wouldn’t have wished the College of Missouri linebacker on his workforce due to his sexual orientation and the potential distractions it’d carry. Thoughts you, this is identical paragon of gridiron advantage who argued for Michael Vick to be rehired after the Professional Bowl quarterback was federally imprisoned for working a canine combating ring; Dungy additionally stated he’d welcome Ray Rice again into an NFL locker room after the Professional Bowl tailback was banished from the league for KO’ing his girlfriend.

All of the whereas Dungy charges among the many NFL’s worst tv analysts, offering the least perception in probably the most monotone supply. Solely he might make the final minutes of Jacksonville’s wildcard comeback in opposition to Los Angeles about as thrilling as Ben Stein’s roll name in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Not even the nice Al Michaels, clearly overwhelmed down from saying too many Thursday night time video games, might inject any extra life into the published.)

The low vitality alone can be motive sufficient for NBC to a minimum of bench Dungy. However he stays a distinguished a part of the community’s NFL protection and figures to stay so subsequent season. Sticking by dodgy NFL analysts is a routine play for NBC. Lead announcer Mike Tirico has a graveyard of sexual allegations from his ESPN days, and so does fantasy man Matthew Berry; Michele Tafoya, NBC’s longtime NFL reporter, made a full heel flip to anti-woke punditry after retiring from the sideline. It’s hardly a shock that Dung – a wealthy, platformed member of the jockocracy–would espouse conservative Christian ideology, or that he’d be tempted to attract sports activities analogies in his rhetoric. However so long as Dungy has the NFL for a bully pulpit, he’s no much less polarizing a soccer man than Rush Limbaugh was throughout his transient ESPN keep. Dungy can communicate his thoughts all he needs; you received’t learn me telling him to stay to sports activities. However the NFL may wish to take into consideration discovering a brand new human defend. This one’s misplaced his integrity.

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