Dungy, Religion, and Humanity

Tony Dungy was asked a football question. Tony Dungy gave a religiously biased answer. And that’s America.

“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’s not going to be totally smooth…things will happen.”

The worst part of that statement is the weak attempt to mask disapproving religious views with ambiguity — it’s tantamount to using a Kraft singles wrapper as camouflage. All opacity is lost when you remember ‘wait, wasn’t this the guy who urged — nearly begged — teams to take on the anything-but-totally-smooth distraction of signing a fresh out of prison Michael Vick?’ That’s why Dungy’s comments reek of insincerity and guised homophobia. Problem is, Dungy was asked the question due to his prior role as an NFL decision maker with authority to hire and fire. If he were still employed in that role the EEOC would be on lines 1, 2, 3, and 5.

But Tony Dungy has the same affliction many religious Americans have: the inability to separate. This inhibits them from being capable of looking at the world from the perspective of someone who doesn’t and, thanks to America being founded upon religious tolerance, doesn’t HAVE to share the same beliefs. As a religious American then, you have two sets of duties: one to your faith and the other to Americans who don’t share it.

If you are religious and believe you have a set of religious duties to abide by in a country that promotes freedom of religion (which also includes freedom from religion) then cheapening those obligations with wagged fingers, disapproving glares, and/or votes is not only missing your supposed purpose, it’s just being obstinate.

Assuming all of your answers are the right answers breeds a forum of judgment and ridicule toward anyone with varied beliefs. It’s an all too simple and false justification for looking downward at others. What confuses me about this personally is the mistaught and/or ignored concept of ‘love.’

Nearly every major religion teaches the development of a greater capacity to forgive, to love, and to accept. That bit gets glossed over because this country skews religion into an Us vs Them battlefield. Loving someone and accepting who/what they are, especially when they’re not bound by the dogma to which you subscribe, is viewed as acquiescing — thus failing in your religious duties. So simple questions and simple duties to your free fellow wo/man are turned into wars of belief. And instead of turning the other cheek, the tactic is to climb a pedestal until your cheeks are no longer visible.

What happens next is hypocrisy. Dungy fell into that trap in just a couple of sentences. What’s worthy of distraction and an unsmooth integration can’t be dependent upon the religious ideals of right and wrong you choose to believe. Not when the question and the arena in which it was asked are completely unrelated to belief.

rayriceA number of NFL athletes and one owner have been arrested just this offseason for everything from driving under the influence of prescription pills (not his own) to knocking a fiancé unconscious. Jim Irsay, the man who used to sign Tony Dungy’s checks, has yet to be punished by the NFL and is showing up at his team’s training camp passing out $100 bills. The Baltimore Ravens seem to think it’s a good idea to promote the sad fact that in spite of the appalling actions of their star RB, he’s still liked by delusional fans. Touching. Sick. And both massive distractions.

As a straight black male (i.e. the demographic that makes up 67% of NFL locker rooms) I have more of a problem respecting a man who hits a woman than I do a man who likes men. It’d fester and I’d seriously doubt my purpose in sacrificing my body alongside such a sad and unworthy individual.

Such is the problem with inapplicably and selectively inserting religion. Assuming control of moral high ground makes your other responsibilities – humanity and humility – damn near impossible.


3 thoughts on “Dungy, Religion, and Humanity

  1. But Tony Dungy has the same affliction many religious Americans have: the inability to separate… You’re absolutely right!

  2. But if he didn’t stick with his biased religious beliefs, wouldn’t he be doing the same thing you’re accusing him of (selectively inserting religion)? And if he did just separate his beliefs from his duty as an American, why have beliefs to begin with? It would be easier to adhere to no set of beliefs at all. Furthermore, isn’t suggesting that he separate from his beliefs the same as asking a homosexual to separate from their’s? It seems the answer you’ve left us with here is to be non-religious (or non-everything else you / America doesn’t agree with). Thats my problem with these arguments. We’re all inapplicable and selective. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about wearing flip-flops with busted feet, McDonald’s vs Burger King, legalizing weed, US made or China made, Football or Futbol …. everyone wants the world to conform to their beliefs. Actually, I think the better word for it is opinions. We can easily separate from our opinions (well, easier than beliefs), right. I don’t like Federer as much as Nadal, but I could be swayed depending on the statistics we’re talking about. Nadal isn’t a belief, he’s my opinion. God is my belief. I can’t be swayed on that. And why am I wrong for sticking to that belief no matter what people say to me or claim me to be intolerant of (I believe people are born with a same-sex attraction by the way, and I see nothing “wrong” with it)? Religious people need to learn how to love and respect despite our beliefs. Dungy was wrong because there is no love or respect in discrimination and segregation, not because he’s religious.

    • Belief isn’t the problem, it’s having a pompous requirement that others (who don’t have to) conform to your particular beliefs. When you’re infringing on the ability for someone else to, say, get a job, then it becomes a problem. Acceptance isn’t infringement. Sam wasn’t applying to Seminary, he’s trying to play football. Those arenas are rather separate, thus the need for a separate way of thought (i.e. non-judgmental).

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