Retired NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy received widespread backlash for attending and speaking at the 2023 March For Life in Washington, D.C., Friday.
The former Indianapolis Colts head coach, who currently serves as an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America, gave a speech at the first march held since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Dungy urged the audience to pray for the unborn in the same way fans prayed for the recovery of 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin after his cardiac arrest Jan. 2.
Tomorrow Lauren and I will be in Washington DC attending the 2023 March For Life. It will be my first time at the March and I’m looking forward to joining my friend @BenjaminSWatson and thousands of others who will be there to support those unborn babies who don’t have a voice. pic.twitter.com/4rOBEbdsgP
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 19, 2023
Writers and social media users criticized the coach for his attendance at the march, accusing him of “right-wing extremism.” The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin grouped Dungy with the “right-wing gadflies” and “QAnon adherents” he said attend the March for Life in an op-ed published Thursday.
“I’ve covered the March For Life in Washington, D.C., for years,” Zirin wrote. “It is a madhouse of right-wing gadflies, disinformation addicts, Qanon adherents, and, most disturbingly, class after class of teenage and tween-age children dragged there by teachers who abuse their authority in ways that would make Ron DeSantis smirk.”
Zirin argued the retired coach should “feel shame” for attending a rally he said advocates for “robbing people of their rights to privacy and the rights to their own bodies.”
“Like Dungy, neither NBC nor the NFL has commented about his latest eruption. But their silence speaks volumes. It’s a silence that’s almost as loud as Dungy’s hateful blather, almost as loud as the thousands of people descending upon Washington—some mandatorily—to celebrate a fascistic, discredited Supreme Court and the loss of our rights. It’s shameful. And we should not be afraid to say so,” Zirin wrote.
I’m done with Tony Dungy and the way the NFL and NBC coddle his right wing extremism. So I wrote about it. https://t.co/98iiHKTEAi
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 19, 2023
Zirin accused Dungy of being “violently homophobic” and called him out for reportedly criticizing a new law in Minnesota which aims to install tampon dispensaries in men’s bathrooms, as well as his opposition to school districts allegedly placing litter boxes in classrooms for students identifying as cats in a since-deleted Tweet. (RELATED: Pro-Life Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski Speaks At March For Life: ‘We Need To Change Hearts And Minds’)
“This is, of course, none of Dungy’s non-menstruating business,” Zirin wrote.
One social media user called Dungy a “scumbag” for connecting Hamlin’s health scare to abortion.
Absolutely tasteless for Tony Dungy to use Damar Hamlin’s near death experience like this https://t.co/XgPA2vLsoy
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) January 20, 2023
A number of other Twitter users sounded off on Dungy and mocked him for his speech Friday.
0h nothing just Tony Dungy correlating a football player sustaining a heart attack on the football field to abortion… https://t.co/ukR0Ua8WYI
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) January 20, 2023
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 20, 2023
Don’t forget your litter box, Tony. https://t.co/BNzk6EHs53
— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) January 20, 2023
Pro-lifers have participated in the March for Life since January 1974, one year after the Supreme Court made abortion a constitutional right in the decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, according to the march’s official website. Speakers at the 2023 event included Dungy and his wife, Lauren; House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who directly challenged Roe v. Wade in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.