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It was admirable when Tony Dungy was inducted to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2016, for he adopted sideline luminaries Invoice Parcells, John Madden, Hank Stram, George Allen and Marv Levy as coaches so honored earlier than him within the 2000s.
It was something however when Dungy accepted a talking invitation Friday on the March for Life on the Nationwide Mall. For on the annual and largest gathering of the nation’s abortion foes, he adopted on its podium, over time, Sen. Jesse Helms, antiabortion extremist Randall Terry and Donald Trump, amongst others.
To make sure, Helms was, upon his retirement from workplace in 2001, “the final distinguished unabashed white racist politician on this nation,” as the nice Washington Put up political columnist David S. Broder wrote. Terry based antiabortion group Operation Rescue, which distributed a “wished” poster for a Florida abortion physician, David Gunn, at a rally the summer season earlier than Gunn was assassinated in 1993, shot 3 times within the again exterior his Florida clinic. And Trump did what antiabortion Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush earlier than him have been petrified of doing due to the occasion’s extremist undercurrents: He spoke stay on the annual march.
But Dungy went forward together with his talking engagement, utilizing his athletic superstar coupled together with his religiosity as deodorant for a theme of intolerance.
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That got here days after a tweet by Dungy for which he was rightfully and soundly denounced, shamed into apologizing and deleting his phrases. It had amplified to Dungy’s practically 1 million followers a harmful deceit of reactionaries concerning the lengths colleges are supposedly going to accommodate scholar id variations — and about the necessity to halt them. The well-proven fabrication was finally aimed toward disobliging the requirements of LGBTQ children, and even these of youngsters of coloration who have to have the chance to discover their histories and have them realized by others. It was a slap within the face to Tampa Bay linebacker Carl Nassib, whom the league has celebrated since he revealed he’s homosexual, turning into the primary energetic NFL participant to take action.
An individual at NBC instructed me Monday that Dungy apologized to the “Soccer Night time in America” staff, for which he’s a face. And the community reminded in a memo to employees that “… NBC Sports activities doesn’t help or condone the views expressed within the tweet and we’ve made that clear to Tony. Our firm has lengthy and proudly supported LGBTQ+ rights and works laborious to make sure that all of our workers are seen, acknowledged, acknowledged and revered.”
Whether or not the league did the identical — or reacted because it did within the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, when it decreed fines for any staff with a participant on the sector who didn’t stand for the nationwide anthem — I don’t know. The league didn’t reply my e mail asking for clarification on the place it stood with Dungy’s associations.
Dungy posted his remorse Saturday earlier than collaborating in NBC’s playoff broadcast: “This previous week I posted a tweet that I subsequently deleted. I issued an apology however not everybody noticed it. So I’m reposting my apology right here. As a Christian I wish to be a pressure for like to everybody. A pressure for therapeutic and reconciliation — not for animosity.”
He tweeted his unique mea culpa Wednesday. It learn: “I noticed a tweet [Tuesday] and I responded to it within the incorrect manner. As a Christian I ought to converse in love and in methods which are caring and useful. I failed to do this and I’m deeply sorry.”
I’m not sure what “responded to it within the incorrect manner” means. But it surely didn’t cease Dungy from accepting his second to face earlier than anti-abortionists on a podium frequented by white supremacists and zealots. And from there he even discovered the gall to invoke the latest story of Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Payments participant who’s recovering after struggling cardiac arrest throughout a recreation, as some type of justification for repealing a girl’s proper to decide on to finish a being pregnant.
“Folks wished to see that life saved,” Dungy instructed the March for Life flock, referring to Hamlin. “These are individuals who aren’t essentially non secular; they bought collectively and referred to as on God. Effectively, that needs to be encouraging us as a result of that’s precisely why we’re right here. As a result of every single day on this nation, harmless lives are at stake. The one distinction is that they don’t belong to a well-known athlete, they usually’re not seen on nationwide TV.”
I do know there are some Black head coach aspirants within the NFL who would favor Dungy use this power and his gravitas to help their discrimination lawsuit towards the league’s hiring practices, perhaps helping the subsequent Black Corridor of Fame coach. However apart from phrases, he hasn’t joined their trigger in motion as he has fights towards abortion and LGBTQ folks.
It isn’t my intent to criticize religiosity, although Dungy has used his to pan non-Christian religions and folks whom his model of Christianity rejects. He’s an evangelical Christian who has been an outspoken opponent not simply of abortion however same-sex marriage, which he campaigned towards in Indiana when he was coach of the Colts, and towards homosexual folks generally, together with those that could toil as skilled athletes. He infamously stated he wouldn’t have Michael Sam, the would-be first overtly homosexual participant within the NFL, in his locker room.
That is all yet one more reminder that sports activities might be, has been and infrequently continues to be an agent for the other of which it’s celebrated: regression, not progress. Dungy isn’t within the sports activities world’s ballyhooed vanguard of social change regardless of his historic achievement as the primary Black head coach to guide a staff to a Tremendous Bowl championship.
In actual fact, in March he’s scheduled to remain on model as a speaker at an all-men’s convention referred to as Males’s Advance 2023. It’s headed by evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Wommack, who argued two years in the past that “homosexuality is 3 times worse than smoking. We should put a label throughout their brow: ‘This may be hazardous to your well being.’ ”
Dungy ought to know going by way of with that look might be hazardous to his profession.