Writers like Bob Kravitz and Cindy Boren are correct in their assessment that when it comes the controversial comments former Indianapolis Colts head coach-turned-NBC commentator Tony Dungy made about Michael Sam, none of us should be surprised.
After all, Dungy’s opposition to homosexuality and the religious beliefs he cites as an excuse for them are common knowledge. Years ago, while accepting the “Friend of Family” award from the Indiana Family Institute – an anti-gay organization guised itself as some place of solace for those clamoring for the resurgence of the “traditional” family – Dungy expressed support of the group’s push for an amendment banning gay marriage (which is presently in legal limbo).
Dungy said: “We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we’re trying to promote the family — family values the Lord’s way. Family is important, and that’s what we’re trying to support. We’re not anti-anything else and not trying to hate anyone else. We’re trying to promote the family, family values, the Lord’s way. Just like I’m trying to win on the football field the Lord’s way. I’m on the Lord’s side when I’m on the field, and on the Lord’s side when I’m off the field.”
Picture it: Me, rolling my eyes profusely, calling out to God asking why the Lord won’t hire a better publicist than these boils on the butt of human decency?
Mind you, the Indiana Family Institute is the same group that once protested the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s decision to participant in the city’s LGBT pride parade by claiming, ”They don’t sign up for gay pride parades and all that entails with men in police uniforms being howled at by homosexuals.” The adage “you are who you hang with” proves true, so no, it’s not exactly shocking to hear Dungy tell the Tampa Tribune that when it comes to drafting openly gay Michael Sam, "I wouldn't have taken him. Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it."
It doesn’t make the comments any less repulsive, though.
Likewise, Dungy’s “clarification” couldn’t be any less useless given all he did was repeat the exact same sentiment in virtually the same language. I’m glad Michael Sam doesn’t especially care about Dungy’s remarks, but I do think they warrant challenging. And when I say challenging, I don’t mean everyone channeling Stephanie Tanner and fixing their mouths to say “HOW RUDE!” in some act of PC Policing. Rather, I want someone to hit the Tony Dungys of the world with their own inconsistent interpretation of the world.
Even if they are a dying breed as the marriage equality movement continues to rack up state-by-state wins, it tap dances my last nerve that Dungy’s ilk get to spew their anti-gay rhetoric and then hide under the veil of religion when called upon it. As I noted in a previous essay on Sherri Shepherd explaining how many Christians grow up believing that homosexuality is a sin and that gays go to hell, there needs to be greater pushback with respect to theology. Let Tony Dungy and his friends at the Indiana Family Institute tell it, when they’re out fighting to keep gays from marrying, Jesus is somewhere on the field with his pom-poms going “GO, TEAM GO!”
This isn’t the case, and for the millionth time, if we want to go tit-for-tat on Biblically-based damnation, someone hand me a rock so that I might toss it at Tony Dungy’s head ‘cause he should’ve been stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.
And when we talk about family in “the Lord’s way,” what type of family is that? Is the one where you get to eat your kids (Jeremiah 19:9), murder them if they curse at their parents (Exodus 21:17), and sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7)?
When it comes to the notion of the traditional family – or really, the nuclear one – that is a relatively nouveau concept more based on Leave It To Beaver, Good Times, and The Brady Bunch than it is the Bible.
Don’t even get me started on Tony Dungy being Black given there’s a whole catalog of Biblical citations any white supremacist can pull from where they sit to smite thee and scapegoat segregation and slavery.
To that end, doth thou get on my damn nerves with this free pass Christians get to hate.
Tony Dungy is free to his opinion. We all are. However, while I don’t necessarily think it’s anyone in the media’s responsibility to correct him about his beliefs, I do find it odd he and others like him have gotten away with their interpretations for years.
Dungy said of all the flack he’s gotten is proof that the media attention Michael Sam will net and “I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.” Suffice to say, Tony Dungy will probably be a little quieter about Michael Sam in the not too distant future. Unfortunately, though Dungy might remain silent about Sam, he’ll still walk around thinking his point of view is substantive. It’s not and pity he’ll continue wrongly believing so.