NFL Hall of Famer and NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy is facing renewed criticism for his record of anti-LGBTQ statements after he tweeted an anti-transgender conspiracy theory last week.
Dungy shared a debunked myth with his nearly 950,000 followers that US schools are providing litter boxes for students who identify as cats. His tweet was in response to an article about a Mississippi state bill that would require menstrual products in boys’ bathrooms.
«That’s nothing,» the former Indianapolis Colts head coach wrote in the since-deleted tweet. “Some school districts are putting litter boxes in school bathrooms for students who identify as cats. Very important to meet the needs of each student.”
Following widespread criticism online, Dungy later apologized on Twitter, writing:: “I saw a tweet and I responded incorrectly. As a Christian, I must speak in love and in ways that are caring and helpful. I couldn’t do that and I’m deeply sorry.»
Dungy’s apology did little to quell critics, who were quick to blast the sports analyst, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, for making repeated homophobic comments over the years. (NBC Sports and NBC News are owned by NBCUniversal.)
In an email to NBC News on Tuesday, a spokesperson for NBC Sports stated: “NBC Sports does not endorse 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, recognized, recognized and respected.»
Dungy could not be reached for comment.
From Dungy’s controversial tweet, several opinion pieces published in prominent media outlets, including the washington post Y The Guardianhave criticized the former NFL player and former Indianapolis Colts head coach, with the Post accusing him of using «religiosity as deodorant for a bigotry issue.»
For Dungy’s followers on Twitter, the kitty litter tweet came as no surprise. NBC News found at least a dozen tweets from Dungy’s account, from 2012 to 2022, criticizing same-sex marriage, homosexuality and the LGBTQ «lifestyle.»
“No one is saying that God will only banish homosexuals to hell,” Dungy wrote on Twitter this past June, which was LGBTQ Pride Month. “Jesus said that anyone who is not born again accepting him as his savior will not enter the kingdom of heaven. That is the criteria for avoiding hell.”
In another 2020 tweet, Dungy wrote that being “LGBTQ is a lifestyle,” a sentiment that suggests being queer is a choice.
His comments about gay and transgender people aren’t just relegated to social media. In 2014, he made headlines for controversial comments about the selection of the league’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam.
«I wouldn’t have taken it» Dungy told the Tampa Tribune at the time. “Not because I don’t think Michael Sam should get a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of that. It’s not going to be totally smooth. . . things are going to happen.»
Cyd Zeigler, an LGBTQ advocate and co-founder of the LGBTQ sports site Outsports.com, has been sounding alarm bells about Dungy’s anti-LGBTQ sentiments for years. Just before NBC’s coverage of the NFL playoffs, in which Dungy had a major role, Zeigler posted a lengthy opinion piece at Outsports.com this month, describing his nearly two-decade pattern of homophobia.
“I never asked for Tony Dungy to be fired or lose his job or his ability to support his family,” Zeigler said. «What I’ve always asked for is for him and NBC to explain themselves.»
On Saturday, NBC Sports President Pete Bevacqua and NBC Sports Executive Producer and President Sam Flood sent an email to employees, which was shared with NBC News. In the memo, the executives acknowledged that Dungy shared a tweet that «perpetuated a debunked myth that disparaged transgender people,» noting that the tweet was removed and that Dungy apologized directly to his NBC Sports production team.
Shefik Macauley, an NBC Sports employee who is among the leaders of NBC Universal’s LGBTQ employee resource group, said the response from NBC Sports has been, overall, «favorable» for him and other LGBTQ employees. However, he pointed out that he unsuccessfully tried to get the company to make Dungy apologize on air.
A spokesperson for NBC Sports confirmed Macauley’s request for an on-air apology.
«Leadership agreed that the apology was best delivered on the platform where Tony had made the mistake: on Twitter,» the spokesperson said.
“If someone has the power to be on camera and be the face of whatever platform it is, then we should be able to address it to the same audience that we are training that person for,” Macauley said.
Zeigler said he’s not convinced Dungy’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric will stop anytime soon.
He pointed to Dungy’s next speaking event at the annual Men’s Advance conference, which will take place in March and be hosted by evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Wommack. Wommack is known for his and formerly anti-LGBTQ views. reclaimed that homosexuality is «three times worse than smoking,» adding that gay people «should put a label on their foreheads: ‘This can be dangerous to health.'»