Coach Tony Dungy: Drew Brees ‘Can’t be Afraid’ to Give His Opinion

June 4th, 2020 4:01 PM

Well, Drew Brees has apologized for having his own opinions. It was to be expected. But at least one prominent African-American sports figure doesn’t want the Saints QB cast into the outer darkness. 

Former NFL head coach and football analyst Tony Dungy defended Brees’s right to express views -- an exceedingly rare occurrence right now with Brees the target of speech police across sports and media. 

In a Wednesday interview, Yahoo Finance asked Brees what he thinks of the possibility of NFL players kneeling again when the season starts. “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” he responded. He cited his grandfathers’ service and the civil rights movement of the 60s as reasons he disagreed with kneeling. Unsurprisingly, the media pumped the statement into controversy.

Tony Dungy doesn’t agree with Brees. His father also served in the military and “when he came back from the war, he wasn’t able to ride the bus in certain places,” Dungy told YouTuber and former Colts punter Pat MacAfee. And while “there’s some real hurt there that goes beyond the flag,” he wouldn’t grab a pitchfork. Asked about race conversations, Dungy said: 

We have to have Drew Brees saying what he said. I don’t downgrade Drew for that, okay, that’s what he said. He may not totally understand. It may have been not exactly the way he wanted to express it. But he can’t be afraid to say that and we can’t be afraid to say, “Okay Drew, I don’t agree with you, but let’s talk about this and let’s sit down and talk about it. We can’t just say any time something happens, “Hey I’m done with that and I’m done with this person.” That doesn’t make sense. We have to be better than that.

Dungy decried the riots and also the hawkish response from some on the right. “This battle is not going to be won by demonstrating and throwing bricks through windows. It’s not going to be won by the government saying ‘Hey, we’re going to bring out these weapons and dominate the streets again.’ That is not going to fix anything.”

Eminently reasonable and adult. But don’t expect many lefties in sports or the media to find Dungy convincing. The Super Bowl-winning coach is an outspoken Christian, and some secular progressives aren’t willing to extend the same civility to him that he offered Brees.