Tony Dungy is no stranger to conversations about race, as the first black NFL coach to win a Super Bowl.
It might be how most Americans know him best: as a former NFL coach and currently, an NBC Sports commentator on the sport he loves and once played. But some might not know that Dungy’s a man of faith who isn’t afraid to let people know his life is informed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. RedState‘s Brandon Morse shared a few examples of Dungy’s doing just that in a 2018 piece, which talked about Philadephia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and his teammates expressing their faith on Super Bowl night.
Dungy also posted a picture of a kid praying with the Eagles, thanking God for their victory, and that it was a positive thing for him to see it.
“After all the celebrations and confetti Justin caught up with the 3 Eagles QBs Nick Foles, Carson Wentz & Nate Sudfeld along with Zach Ertz who scored the winning TD. They were in a room by themselves—praying and thanking God. It was great for him to see that,” he wrote.
Then left readers with a sentence that couldn’t be more relevant to the protests following George Floyd’s death:
Perhaps if we heard more about the positive feelings of players’ Christian faith, and less about the negativity of how racist our nation is from rich, successful players, more people would watch.
In that vein, on Sunday morning, the former coach shared a message from his family:
Last night was a very tough night in America. We need something to bring us together. We need empathy. We need to listen. And we need to care about each other. Even those we might disagree with. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12:21 NIV pic.twitter.com/qduqDP2H0k
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) May 31, 2020
The statement read:
My wife Lauren and I rode around the city of Tampa last night. It was an emotional ride. We saw many people out protesting and trying to make their feelings heard. Most of it was peaceful but some was not. We saw a lot of hurting people. We saw a lot of angry people.
We prayed for our country as we rode. Prayed that people who are hurting can direct their passion in safe and productive way [sic]. And we prayed that our country can listen to people who are hurting and have concerns BEFORE they feel they have to lash out in anger to be heard.
America we can solve this but it’s going to take all of us, WORKING TOGETHER, to do it.
His note on the statement read:
Last night was a very tough night in America. We need something to bring us together. We need empathy. We need to listen. And we need to care about each other. Even those we might disagree with. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV
But Dungy’s walk with God, like for many of us, requires him to keep seeking a conversation about love for our fellow man — however difficult that conversation and its detractors might be. That could be why he shared a video with Twitter followers early Sunday morning:
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) June 1, 2020
The video shows Genesee County (Michigan) Sheriff Chris Swanson at a Flint protest march that was heading to the police station on Saturday, as Newsweek reported.
He tells the assembled marchers, “The only reason we’re here is to make sure that you got a voice. That’s it.”
Then, referring to former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who held George Floyd’s head and neck down with his knee before his death, “Don’t think for a second that he represents who these cops are….We go out there to help people, not do this nonsense. We want to be with y’all for real so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest.”
When he asked the protestors how he could help, they shouted, “Walk with us!” So, he did. In a way, you could say he “walked the walk.”
Sheriff Swanson made his opinion on Chauvin’s actions clear in an interview with Newsweek.
He said, in part:
“I don’t need to know anything more than 8 minutes and 46 seconds of what [Chauvin] did. You’ve got a guy who’s handcuffed, who’s on the ground, you’ve got a knee in the back of a neck. That’s straight-up murder.”
He added that the accused officer wouldn’t have lasted as long in his department:
“We have fired more people in our office over the last 15 years than most police departments have in a lifetime,” he said, stating that his department has little tolerance for officers who do not have the “heart” for policing.
What’s different from most public figures on social media is that, after looking at a few of his tweets, Dungy seems to chose to listen and open up about his own thoughts in the posts’ comments. And it’s pretty remarkable what happened on this one about Swanson.
One person shared a personal observation about the sheriff, saying that he has “never hidden his faith….throughout his career,” and has allowed his faith to play a part in his leadership:
This is what happens when the Lord is first in your life! The Genesse county sheriff is a very strong believer and has never hidden his faith. He has demonstrated this throughout his career in his dealings with the public.
— nick latta (@nicklatta4) June 1, 2020
Other commenters shared videos of other LEOs who have acted the same way:
— Garry Moïse (@GarryMoise) June 1, 2020
This especially heartrending video shows an officer comforting a protestor:
— Aaron Anderson (@THE1nONLYCHIEF) June 1, 2020
Someone even connected a touching moment from Ferguson to the moment in Flint:
Photo Of Young Boy Hugging Officer At Ferguson Rally Goes Viral And Becomes 'Icon Of Hope'! pic.twitter.com/wRbF9ZoQMk
— AORACALE Alison Dibley (@AoracaleNet) June 1, 2020
It seems that an important point about police officers is being lost, in all the protests out there:
He represents the majority of law enforcement officers in our nation.
— Scott Huntley (@ScottRHuntley) June 1, 2020
As Scott Huntley wrote: “[Sheriff Chris Swanson] represents the majority of law enforcement officers in our nation.”