In a recent appearance on the HBO series Costas Now, Colts coach Tony Dungy showed his true colors.
Dungy, a devout Christian, was initially asked if he'd have a problem with having a Muslim, Jew, or atheist on his team.
Dungy immediately answered no. He doesn’t proselytize to his players, he said.
Costas followed up with the same question about an openly gay player.
And Dungy paused.
He actually paused and crossed his arms—in obvious discomfort—before responding with canned blather about letting the player know what he thinks, and what the Bible says.
Dungy also said that if the player were good he'd have no problem with it.
But if that's the case—why the pause? Why the discomfort?
I’m not gay. I’m a straight white male—and I’m completely and utterly offended that Dungy paused to a question to which any sane, intelligent person would reply, “I have no problem with it at all.”
Tony Dungy was the first African American coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. I personally didn’t find the feat particularly earth-shattering.
Besides the color of Dungy's skin, what made his accomplishment any different than a white coach winning the Super Bowl for the first time? Is Bill Belichick's fair complexion responsible for his success? In beating Dungy time and again over the years, did Belichick prove that black coaches were somehow inferior? Was it Jon Gruden's whiteness that helped him lead Dungy's Bucs to the promised land immediately after Dungy's departure?
Seriously, who gives a damn what color your skin is?
And by the same token, who gives a damn whom you sleep with?
I’m sure that Tony Dungy faced his share of racial bias while rising through the coaching ranks. He certainly did in his playing career—as when he was converted from quarterback to defensive back after being drafted from the University of Minnesota by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Given that history, Dungy should understand how pernicious prejudice can be.
And homophobia is no exception.
Okay—the Bible says it’s wrong. The Bible also states that any man working on the Sabbath shall be put to death. (Exodus 35:2). Doesn’t bode too well for a job that requires you to work a minimum of 17 Sundays a year, does it Tony?
The Bible also advocates slavery, by the way. I'm guessing Tony wouldn’t agree with that.
If you believe it's wrong to be gay—fine. It’s an ignorant view of the world, but it's your absolute right as a human being to believe whatever the hell you want to believe.
In that vein, though, would it be okay for a white owner to believe a white coach would do a better job coaching his football team? Maybe it would if the Bible said so—which is of course how white land owners justified slavery.
The bottom line here?
Scripture isn't and can't be a fig leaf for bigotry. I'd hope that Tony Dungy would've learned that much on his way to the top.