Long-time NBC Sports analyst and former NFL coach Tony Dungy has been under fire recently for many of his comments outside of football. Those include tweeting a harmful myth about litter boxes in schools earlier this week. On Friday, Dungy spoke at the anti-abortion March for Life in Washington, D.C. There, he chose to bring up Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, and spun that into a point about abortion.
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy invokes Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest as he calls on Americans to pray for an end to abortion:
“Every day in this country, innocent lives are at stake. The only difference is they don’t belong to a famous athlete, and they’re not seen on national TV.” pic.twitter.com/RR6G6c5VfE
— The Recount (@therecount) January 20, 2023
Here is a full transcription of what Dungy says in that clip:
“Those prayers were answered. Damar’s recovering now, he’s home, he’s been released from the hospital. But what’s the lesson in that? An unbelievable thing happened that night in a professional football game with millions of dollars of ticket money on the line. That game was cancelled. Why? Because a life was at stake. And people wanted to see that life saved. These are people who aren’t necessarily religious, they got together and called on God. Well, that should be encouraging us, because that’s exactly why we’re here. Because every day in this country, innocent lives are at stake. The only difference is they don’t belong to a famous athlete, and they’re not seen on national TV. But those lives are still important to God and in God’s eyes.”
It’s quite the choice for Dungy to compare the frightening Hamlin saga to his personal views against abortion. But it’s not the first controversial thing Dungy has done. Last week, Outsports’ Cyd Ziegler wrote about Dungy’s decades of criticizing homosexuality and appearing at fundraisers for anti-gay groups. This week, Dungy’s myth-spreading tweet on litter boxes “for the students who identify as cats” remained up for 10 hours before he eventually deleted it. And even before Dungy’s comments at the March for Life referencing Hamlin, many, including Keith Olbermann, were already calling for NBC to part ways with him:
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 20, 2023
Meanwhile, Nancy Armour of USA Today wrote a “Tony Dungy shows his true values with hateful tweet that puts transgender kids at risk” column. One excerpt:
It’s these kids, these already vulnerable and in-peril kids, who Tony Dungy chose to pile on using his large, national platform. Who Dungy put further in harm’s way with his bigotry and ignorance, under the guise of his “Christian” faith.
…Dungy, like so many others, has used his faith as justification for discriminating against LGBTQ people, claiming homosexuality is antithetical to his Christian beliefs. But that’s as much nonsense as kids using litter boxes.
And Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star wrote a scathing ” Litter boxes? Seriously, Tony Dungy? Stick to sports” column:
How many were pushed too far, the last of a thousand small cuts, by a joke about litter boxes?
People like Tony Dungy, you have a lot of power, a lot of influence. Use it compassionately.
Or stick to sports.
Dungy has very much not stuck to sports recently. And NBC Sports has thus far stuck with him; he was listed in their release last week about their Football Night In America studio show for Saturday’s Jaguars-Chiefs game, and NBC has not yet commented on his litter box comments or anything else. We’ll see if that changes after these remarks linking Hamlin to abortion.
[The Recount on Twitter]