Tony Dungy attacked over comments on Nick Foles' Christian faith


Former NFL player and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy has caught flak this week for his comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

The NBC commentator said on air before the game he believed Foles would play well “because his Christian faith would allow him to play with confidence.”

Dungy, a two-time Super Bowl Champion, also tweeted that “Nick Foles told me last week that he felt the Lord had him in Philadelphia for a special moment, and he played like it tonight.”

The Eagles backup quarterback took over when star Carson Wentz was injured in Week 14. Foles went on to lead Philadelphia to the Super Bowl and a 41-33 victory over the favored New England Patriots. He was named MVP of the game after throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

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Dungy, who is very outspoken about his Christian faith, faced a major backlash for reporting Foles’ comments.

“I’m just not wanting it as a part of football analysis,” said Stephanie Stradley, a lawyer who blogs about the Texans for the Houston Chronicle. “Humans are not the Holy Spirit.”

She later deleted her tweet and engaged in an ongoing conversation with Dungy in an attempt to smooth over the criticism she has since received from Dungy supporters.

USA Today reporter Kyle Koster even devoted an entire article to the question of whether Dungy was “analyzing or evangelizing” with his comments about Foles.

“Dungy, a very public and proud Christian, pushed a narrative favorable to Christianity that may or may not be true,” said Koster. “His possible agenda should come into play here, just as it would if an outspoken vegan was trumpeting Tom Brady’s revolutionary diet or an outspoken atheist crediting Arian Foster’s worldview for his performance.”

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When questioned about impartiality in reporting, Dungy replied that he would “report exactly what you told me. I wouldn’t try to paint you as something you’re not.”

Koster added, “Dungy expressing his beliefs on his personal time and platform is one thing. And even if I disagree with him sometimes, I appreciate his candor and willingness to open himself up for criticism. But when his beliefs seep into his analyst role — either unintentionally or otherwise — they should be checked, both by NBC and the public.”

In Dungy’s defense, for an analyst to not mention Foles’ faith would be questionable journalism, as the Super Bowl MVP has made his faith clear in just about every interview he has had.

The 2013 Pro Bowler gave God the glory immediately after winning the Super Bowl and has outlined his plans to become a pastor after his playing days are over.

Not reporting on Foles’ faith would represent bias against what the quarterback believes is most important in his life.

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