As a longtime Patriots fan, I never cared much for Tony Dungy. He really lost me during his comments on the drafting of openly gay NFL player Michael Sam. At the time Dungy said he wouldn’t want the distraction of Sam on his team, and therefore wouldn’t have drafted him. This would have made more sense to me if Dungy hadn’t been a leading advocate for Michael Vick after his release from prison.
Coach Dungy, however, was the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl. In 2016 at the Hall of Fame he gave a speech honoring the coaches who paved the way for him. It should come as no surprise, then, that Coach Dungy is in support of the players protesting the National Anthem.
Support for the Protesters
In a conversation with USA Today Sports, he was asked about how he would react to the protests as a coach. “What’s the best way to help these guys get their message across?” Dungy asked. “And the best way is not three minutes before the national anthem.”
When asked about how he would react if people said the protests made them uncomfortable, Dungy dropped the mic.
“Good, we can make people uncomfortable during the press conference. You want to raise awareness, I’m going to give you a much bigger platform. Instead of just 65,000 people at the stadium, I’m going to give you access to millions of people, and it’ll be re-run and you’ll be able to articulate exactly what your point is.”Tony Dungy to USA Today Sports
This is in stark contrast to the reactions of the NFL Owners who feel that forced compliance is the best form of patriotism.
NBC offers a platform
For its part, NBC seems to also be working as an advocate for the players. According to Dungy, NBC approached the NFL about giving the players time to speak as a way of convincing them to stand for the Anthem.
“We offered that up on NBC. We went to the NFL … (and) we said, ‘We’ll give you time during our Football Night in America every week if you want it, to talk about what these players are doing.’ And people don’t see that side of it. They see the kneeling and the protests, but they don’t see what they’re doing in the community to help raise awareness and help bridge that divide. We wanted to be that vehicle. They didn’t take us up on it, but we were there.”Tony Dungy to USA Today Sports
As the league continues navigating this political minefield, maybe they’ll come to the same conclusion as Dungy and NBC. If you want to find a resolution to this situation, maybe give the players more of a voice. Make decisions that suggest you take their concerns seriously and help them work to rectify the situation.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to make them feel this is a country worth standing for.
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