Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy is firing back at critics who were outraged that he stood behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a political event as he signed the new fatherhood bill. The former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach responded via Twitter to those who opposed his appearance.

“2 days ago, I spoke on behalf of a Florida bill that supports dads & families, and it offended some people. 14 yrs ago, Pres Obama said the same things almost verbatim. I’m assuming people were outraged at him too. I am serving the Lord, so I’ll keep supporting dads and families.” Dungy tweeted.

Republicans mostly attended the fatherhood event, although the bill received bipartisan support. The initiative aims to increase mentorship programs for at-risk children. The bill would also allow for grants that increase resources for underprivileged fathers across the state.

Overall the bill will provide 70 million dollars in aid to combat the “fatherhood crisis” across Florida. The bill (HB 7065) passed unanimously in 2022 in both the House and Senate. The bill will also help fathers with child support payments, fathers transitioning back into society from incarceration, and assisting fathers to get educated on how to be better parents.

While the child welfare bill aims to help children without fathers, Dungy received criticism for previous comments made in 2014 on an unrelated matter and for his remarks during the ceremonial signing. Dungy supported the bill and spoke of his lack of knowledge of fatherlessness. Dungy shared his own coming childhood story and how not everyone is fortunate enough to have a loving father as he did.

Dungy shared another story of when he spoke with a former prison minister Abe Brown. Brown took Dungy to jail once to show him how prisoners who were subject to fatherlessness had been impacted, ultimately how it played a role in their being incarcerated.

“I asked Brown, how do those young boys get here? And he told me, it’s not socio-economic, it’s not racial, it’s not education, it’s none of that. Ninety-five percent of these boys did not grow up with their dads. And that hit me. That hit me very hard.” Dungy recalled.

Some of the critics took to Twitter to rant about Dungy’s comments being unnecessary as he already does enough good work.

“Tony Dungy probably means well and does plenty of good in the world. However, his racist apologist, respectability politics, and The Black friend showmanship is an unnecessary dance move he doesn’t need to “tap” into to do that work.” wrote one Twitter user.

2014 controversial comments surrounding former openly-gay footballer Michael Sam.

Back in 2014, Dungy said he would have passed on drafting Michael.

“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’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen,” Dungy commented without going into specifics. Fast forward to the recent event and while it’s not connected to the fatherhood bill, it is connected to the recent battle DeSantis has with Disney over what’s been dubbed by the media as the “Don’t Say, Gay Bill.” The bill, Parental Rights in Education Act, bans public teachers in Florida from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity for grades kindergarten through grade three or where the topic is not age-appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Dungy didn’t respond to the resurfaced 2014 comments, but he responded to the controversy by reminding the critics that former President Barrack Obama made similar statements just a few years back regarding the impact on children who grow up without fathers.

When responders applauded his comments but did encourage the former coach to be more mindful to LGBTQ families, he responded with his own beliefs.

“I can appreciate how you feel. We all have different feelings. But I have to base what I’m going to do in life by what the Bible says. My feelings don’t always match up with biblical truth, but when that happens, I have to adjust my feelings. I can’t adjust the word of God.” Dungy tweeted.

Dungy has been very open in the past regarding his Christianity beliefs and his stance on homosexuality but has previously stated he wants to do more to support the LGBTQ community, so the critics may want to wait before bringing up the past to judge his current actions.

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