NFL legend Tony Dungy, who as a star player and coach exuded class and dedication, on Wednesday deflated critics who attacked him for appearing with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts attended a news conference at which DeSantis announced the state was putting up $70 million in its “Responsible Fatherhood” program to fund programs in which community-based agencies work with men who have drifted away from their children and families to reconnect, find work and support their children financially and emotionally.
“I had a dad who was around me all the time and supported me, and I thought everyone was like that,” he said, according to WUSF-FM. “Then I got to my job, and the National Football League started interviewing our players, and I began to understand not everyone had that same blessing that I had.”
Governor DeSantis signs legislation that will provide more than $70 million to support fatherhood. https://t.co/uXDPga790v
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 11, 2022
But many leftists on social media attacked Dungy for appearing with DeSantis, whom they have condemned for supporting parents’ rights legislation that bans discussions of gender identity in the earliest grades.
Keith Olbermann, for example, denounced the Hall of Famer as a “fraud” and a “fascist political prop.”
On Wednesday, Dungy said his focus is families, not politics, and noted that former President Barack Obama used similar language to that used Wednesday when speaking about the need for children to have fathers in their lives.
“2 days ago I spoke on behalf of a Florida bill that supports dads & families and it offended some people. 14 yrs ago Pres Obama said the same things almost verbatim. I’m assuming people were outraged at him too. I am serving the Lord so I’ll keep supporting dads and families,” he said in a tweet.
2 days ago I spoke on behalf of a Florida bill that supports dads & families and it offended some people. 14 yrs ago Pres Obama said the same things almost verbatim. I’m assuming people were outraged at him too. I am serving the Lord so I’ll keep supporting dads and families.🙏🏽🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/7eIemEGe9T
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) April 13, 2022
The quote Dungy shared came from a 2008 Father’s Day speech by Obama, then an Illinois senator campaigning for president.
“We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households — half — a number that’s doubled since we were children,” Obama said.
“We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, they’re nine times more likely to drop out of school, 20 times more likely to end up in prison,” he said.
“We should be meeting them halfway,” Obama said. “We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices — and harder for those who avoid them.”
Dungy, who is among the few to have won the Super Bowl as both a player and coach, received strong support on Twitter.
— Mark Stiles 🇺🇲 🌊⛱️ 🏕 🌅 (@markstiles2) April 13, 2022
Weird times we live in when Tony Dungy is getting hate for supporting fathers being present in their kids lives.
— Alex From Newport (@AlexFromNewport) April 11, 2022
World needs more Dad’s guided by THE Father. Thank you for your voice.
— Houston Christian Football (@hcstangs_FB) April 13, 2022
“I want my kids to learn what my parents taught me,” he said. “This world isn’t all we are going to have. Our ultimate goal shouldn’t be about what we achieve, what school we go to, what clothes we wear, or our possessions. I believe our ultimate goal should be having a close relationship with God.”
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“The best fathers understand they are there to help their children grow and be the best they can be,” Dungy wrote in another post on the site. “Sometimes what that takes is humility.
“I believe none of us is the ultimate one in charge of our lives and families. God has put us here to direct the family and we need to look to Him for direction and wisdom.
“So my personal goal as a dad is to grow in humility by walking behind the Lord and taking direction from Him.”