Bil Browning

The Colts put out a statement on Dungy controversy

Filed By Bil Browning | March 28, 2007 1:53 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: football game, Indiana Family Institute, Indianapolis Colts, marriage, SJR-7, Tony Dungy

The Colts released a statement yesterday in response to Coach Dungy's appearance at the Indiana Family Institute's banquet and the controversy that has arisen because of it. I actually think it's a pretty darn good statement. While they defend Dungy's right to free speech (which we all agree is important - we're using that same right to criticize Dungy), they also point out that all fans are important to the club:

We have received your correspondence of concern regarding any connection between the Indianapolis Colts and organizations that have taken a position with respect to SJR-7, the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. The club does not take positions regarding this issue or any political issue in which it is not directly involved. Furthermore, the Colts do not endorse any political or religious position taken by any group to which a Colts employee decides to speak for or lend his/her name. That being said, we fully support the right of our employees to freely express their opinions on matters which are important to them.

We regret that you have been offended but hope that you agree that one of the tenets of our country's foundation is the right of individuals to form their opinions and then exercise their right to make them known. While our organization does not take a position on the issue of same-sex marriage and civil unions, we believe Coach Dungy's has the right to express his opinion.

The Colts value all of our fans who cheered us on to a Super Bowl victory, no matter their sexual orientation. We do not want any fans feeling unwanted or unappreciated. We respect all citizens of the state of Indiana - and we would ask that while this debate continues, our fans and critics respect each other as well.

What are your thoughts on the statement?

[UPDATE:] Pam's House Blend has a story up about a petition drive by Focus on the Family to defend Coach Dungy's endorsement of the IFI complete with video of Dungy's speech. FoF is the parent organization for IFI. They're the organization that claims the SpongeBob SquarePants makes kids gay... *sigh*

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Well, that's the most we could expect out of them. I kinda wanted them to slap-down the IFI for using their logo, but there wasn't much chance of that happening.

I like how they remind us all that Tony Dungy has the right to freedom of speech. Didn't know that one! No one's ever said that one before!

My assessment: Right direction, kinda condescending, and really, really late. But I guess it's something.

Again, I have always said it was Dungy's prerogative to do as he thinks is right. But thats not what happened. A clear figure head of an organization, sporting full colts gear, splattered , and took a position. Colts logos all over their hate spewing web site. What he did, according to policy or not, is take a position as the head coach of the Super Bowl winning Colts.

To my knowledge (which admittedly is minimal) Dungy has not held a different personal view on families then he did a year or more ago. Its now that he's the big coach that they even want him a their event. That is what needs to be addressed. I would like it more if Dungy comes out and states that yes those were his own thoughts and do not represent the organization.

And also pass him a note to use better judgment next time.

bill Groth | March 28, 2007 4:39 PM

I was unimpressed with the Colts' statement. No one is claiming Dungy doesn't have the right to his own theological or political opinions. That's beside the point. What is important is that Coach Dungy has chosen to lend his name and prestige, not as a private citizen but as the Colts' head coach, to an organization that practices intolerance. I can't imagine the Colts would allow Dungy to attend political events or to endorse political candidates while he's employed by the Colts. How is this any different? The IFI is as political as any organization I can think of. The only way the Colts can make amends is for Coach Dungy to publicly retract his support for SJR-7 and make a statement acknowledging that he was wrong to allow IFI to use him to further its ideological objectives.

I actually thought the Colts statement was pretty darn good. They covered the important parts: 1) They don't hold the same position 2) Dungy has the right to free speech and 3) They care about LGBT fans. I know from talking to the franchise that they're none too happy about the appearance of the Colts being involved in SJR-7 after Dungy gave away merchandise to raise money for a hate group.