Tony Dungy, Pro Football Hall of Famer and NBC Sports analyst, is facing renewed criticism for his history of anti-LGBTQ statements after he tweeted an anti-transgender conspiracy theory last week. Dungy, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, shared a debunked myth to his nearly 950,000 followers that U.S. schools are providing litter boxes for students who identify as cats.
Following widespread online criticism, Dungy apologized on Twitter later, writing: “I saw a tweet and I responded to it in the wrong way. As a Christian I should speak in love and in ways that are caring and helpful. I failed to do that and I am deeply sorry.” However, Dungy’s apology did little to quell critics who were quick to castigate the sports analyst for making repeated homophobic remarks over the years.
In an email to NBC News, an NBC Sports spokesperson stated: “NBC Sports does not support or condone the views expressed in the tweet and we have made that clear to Tony. Our company has long and proudly supported LGBTQ+ rights and works hard to ensure that all of our employees are seen, acknowledged, recognized and respected.”
For followers of Dungy on Twitter, the cat litter tweet came as no surprise. NBC News found at least a dozen tweets from Dungy’s account, from 2012 to 2022, that are critical of same-sex marriage, homosexuality and the LGBTQ “lifestyle.”
His remarks regarding gay and transgender people are not just relegated to social media. In 2014, he made headlines for controversial remarks on the drafting of the league’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam.
Cyd Zeigler, an LGBTQ advocate and a co-founder of the LGBTQ sports site Outsports.com, has been raising the alarm bells on Dungy’s anti-LGBTQ sentiments for years. Just ahead of NBC’s NFL playoffs coverage, in which Dungy had a major part, Zeigler published a lengthy op-ed on Outsports.com this month, outlining his nearly two-decade pattern of homophobia.
“I’ve never called for Tony Dungy to be fired or lose his job or his ability to provide for his family,” Zeigler said. “What I’ve always asked for is that he and NBC explain themselves.”
On Saturday, NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and NBC Sports Executive Producer and President Sam Flood sent an email to staffers, which was shared with NBC News. In the memo, the executives acknowledged that Dungy shared a tweet that “perpetuated a debunked myth belittling to transgender people” and noted that the tweet was deleted and that Dungy apologized directly to his NBC Sports production team.