Tony Dungy, after being introduced as a new future analyst on NBC's Football Night in America program, began to discuss some current issues in the NFL via a telephone conference call.
During the interview, Dungy was asked about the blockbuster trade that the Chicago Bears made to acquire pro bowl quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos.
In all honesty, and this is not just because I'm a huge Chicago Bears fan, but I lost of a lot of respect for Tony Dungy during this interview. I once viewed Dungy as an equal minded, honest individual who took the road less traveled to help his team win instead of indulging himself in media-attractive behavior and comments.
Dungy called out the Bears' decision to trade for Cutler saying that while they think Cutler is "the final piece of the puzzle, the jury's still out." He stated he thought the Bears gave up a lot to acquire a guy who has possible maturity issues, saying it was a risky move.
He also stated that he felt the trade was done more-so to beat the Green Bay Packers then anything else, which makes zero sense since the Bears have dominated the Packers in the Lovie Smith era, losing only two games to them since 2004.
"We'll see about the maturity level, that's what I would question," said Dungy. "And some of the things that happened leading to him leaving Denver. That would concern me as a coach. That's my question. I think he can make all the throws. But quarterbacking is much more than making throws."
Really Tony? I thought you were a more intelligent and fair-minded individual when it came to issues like this?
What really irks me about Dungy's statements about Cutler is that he's calling out the maturity, leadership, and responsibility of a man who simply loves to play the game of football and wants to be on a team that wants him to do that.
Could Cutler have acted a bit more mature? Sure. But so could have Josh McDaniels.
Instead of shopping his 25 (now 26) year old, pro bowl QB who had just smashed quite a few of John Elway's single-season records and helped lead the league's second-ranked offense in the league, McDaniels should have fixated on what was really holding his team back—the league's 29th ranked defense.
The Denver Broncos defense gave up 30 points or more in eight games last season. That's more than half the season. In sharp contrast, Cutler, with no consistent running attack mind you, still managed to post outstanding numbers and in two short years as the starting QB for the Broncos has managed to throw for 9,024 yards and 54 TDs—you don't just find guys lying around who have the numbers and ability of a Jay Cutler.
But back to Dungy. So now, Dungy has called out the kind of man Cutler is. Yet, this is the same Tony Dungy who spends his days now endorsing Michael Vick and giving the public reasons that the man deserves another chance?
Wait. Hold the phone.
Dungy questions the maturity, responsibility, and leadership of Jay Cutler, who has done nothing wrong but want to play on a team that wants him. Keep in mind, players forcing trades happen all the time. Chad Johnson has been trying it for the past two seasons.
Anquan Boldin is currently in the middle of such a process. Eli Manning whined his way out of San Diego before ever even taking a snap, as did Denver's previous golden boy, John Elway, who managed to hold out and whine his way out of playing for the Baltimore Colts.
I don't hear anyone questioning their abilities or leadership. As far as I've heard, anyone who gets Boldin, if he is traded, instantly gets one of the best receivers in the game.
There's no talk of maturity or leadership—which is ludicrous when you look at the fact that Boldin wants out simply because he's jealous of Larry Fitzgerald getting too much Kurt Warner time, and Cutler wants out because he was legitimately stabbed in the back by a rookie head coach.
But let's look at this further. Dungy questions Cutler, but endorses Michael Vick. A convicted dog killer who ran a huge underground, illegal operation behind the NFL's back and killed innocent animals for sport and money.
Well, that's in the past you'll say, and that was just the one incident. It's common that most people only really know of this one blockbuster incident involving Michael Vick, but Vick has a spotted past, which makes it all the more mind boggling that Dungy chooses to endorse him. Let's take a look at Vick's legally spotted past:
- In early 2004, two men were arrested in Virginia for distributing marijuana. The truck they were driving was registered to Michael Vick. Falcons coach Dan Reeves recalled that he lectured Vick at that time on the importance of reputation, on choosing the right friends, on staying out of trouble for the good of his team. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Reeves as having told Vick: "You are an Atlanta Falcon...Whatever you do is going to be a reflection on all of us, not just you."
- In March 2005, Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from him in the autumn of 2002, and that he failed to inform her that he had the disease. Elliot further alleged that Vick had visited clinics under the alias "Ron Mexico" to get treatments and thus he knew of his condition. On Apr. 24, 2006 Vick's attorney, Lawrence Woodward, revealed that the lawsuit had been settled out of court under undisclosed terms. Many fans bought custom jerseys from NFL.com with Vick's No. 7 and the name "MEXICO" on the back, as a reference to his lawsuit. The NFL has since banned customizing jerseys with the name Mexico.
- Nov. 26, 2006 – After a Falcons loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome, in apparent reaction to fans booing, Vick made an obscene gesture at fans, holding up two middle fingers. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL and agreed to donate another $10,000 to charity.
- Jan. 17, 2007 – Vick surrendered a water bottle which had a hidden compartment to security personnel at Miami International Airport. "The compartment was hidden by the bottle's label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright," police said. Test results indicated there were no illegal substances in the water bottle and Vick was cleared of any wrongdoing. Vick announced that the water bottle was a jewelry stash box, and that the substance in question had been jewelry. Really? Jewelry? While Vick was cleared of any charges, really sit there and ask yourself - who hides jewelry in a water bottle? I think we all know what that stash compartment was used for.
- On Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2007, Michael Vick was scheduled to lobby on Capitol Hill, hoping to persuade lawmakers to increase funding for after-school programs. However, Vick missed a connecting flight in Atlanta on Monday to Regan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. He later failed to show-up for another seat booked for him later that evening. On Tuesday morning, he did not attend his scheduled appearance at the congressional breakfast where he also was to be honored for his foundation's work with after-school projects in Georgia and Virginia. Vick's mother, Brenda Vick Boddie, accepted an award from the Afterschool Alliance on her son's behalf. While this was not a legal incident, it does give you insight to the kind of person that Vick was to his fans and the national media and apparently saw fit to neglect them and blow them off for whatever reason, even though the meeting revolved around him and the "work" he had done.
- Later in 2007, Vick was accused of dog fighting, which I will not recount since we all know the story, and was later convicted. He is now serving the remainder of his sentence in home confinement and will be released shortly.
Yeah, that's a guy to stand behind, right? Dungy cements his support for Vick in the fact that he grew up without a father, as did Vick, and that he knows what that can do to you. I hate to tell you Tony, but there are a lot of players in this league that grow up without mothers, fathers, good home life, and even more: That's still no excuse.
And it's absolutely laughable that Dungy calls out anyone, not just Cutler at this point, after endorsing Michael Vick.
In my opinion, Dungy wanted to make his first splash as an analyst. So he makes a negative comment on the league's biggest offseason story. Keep in mind also, that while Cutler made some negative comments about Josh McDaniels, they never went anything beyond, "We have trust issues...".
Cutler never bashed the coaching or management staff and continually expressed love for the fans and organization. Now here's the funny part: Dungy's old QB, Peyton Mannning, has recently made headlines for calling out the Colts coaching and management staff on a television interview.
Manning seemed flustered and upset and called the organization unprofessional and talked about how it's really hurting the team. What does Dungy do when Rodney Harrison confronts him about it? He backs up Peyton Manning and doesn't really question him for doing so.
So what do we make of Dungy's opinion on Jay Cutler? Well if Dungy seeks to condone the actions of a dog killing, law breaking individual and backs up the organization bashing comments of another, I'd say his position on Cutler holds no real merit with myself, and it shouldn't with you either.
Tony Dungy was a great coach for the Colts and has his place in history, but I winced when he fell from one of the all time great leaders in football, to a media schmuck for NBC.