Joe Henderson: Tony Dungy’s critics are way, way off base

tony dungy
Tony Dungy's critics value retweets and likes more than facts.

In covering politics, one learns never to be surprised — except, well, I’m surprised, and it’s quite possible I have a headache.

Let me explain.

On Monday, Tony Dungy appeared at an event in Tampa to support the $70 million Responsible Fatherhood initiative. House Speaker Chris Sprowls championed the bill, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law.

This bill passed unanimously in both chambers in a Legislative Session noted for division and rancor.

I repeat — unanimously.

In his brief remarks, Dungy emphasized the importance of fatherhood, particularly in the Black community.

“It really got driven home to me my first year here in Tampa when I got the job (as head coach of the Buccaneers). Legendary man here by the name of Abe Brown. Many of you know the name Abe Brown. He had a prison ministry. He wanted me to go with him, and I went on the first trip expecting to see grizzled, hard, tough older guys, and what I met were 19- and 20- and 21-year-old kids who looked like my boys.

“And I remember driving home from that trip and asking Reverend Brown, ‘How do those young boys get here?’ And he told me it’s not socioeconomic. It’s not racial. It’s not education — none of that. Ninety-five percent of these boys did not grow up with their dad. And that hit me.”

Well said, sir.

So, why did so many liberals lose their cookies over this?

Professional sourpuss/angry guy Keith Olbermann tweeted that Dungy is “a fascist political prop” after seeing the video of Dungy standing near DeSantis during the Governor’s remarks.

Someone else tweeted, “Just lost all respect for Dungy.”

Are you kidding me? Dungy was on the stage because of the respect he commands, and to say otherwise is just wrong.

My guess is that the people criticizing Dungy for this don’t know what’s in the bill and won’t bother to find out. They value retweets and likes more than facts.

The bill sets aside $60.2 million for programs to encourage fathers to be present in the home or provide male role models and mentors for at-risk youth, especially boys.

About half of that money will go to nonprofits to expand mentorship programs, projects that “address the comprehensive needs of fathers,” and parenting education for new fathers.

There’s money for kids who age out of foster care to receive education and training. At my United Methodist church, we assist foster families with clothing, gift cards, and personal supplies. The demand for help grew quickly to levels we couldn’t have imagined, but that just shows the scope of the problem.

Dungy has long been a strong voice for responsible fatherhood and has worked with the Black community to break the cycle that ruins many lives. He doesn’t win ’em all — no one does — but at least he’s in the game for the right reasons.

I’ve never found Dungy to be anything other than ethical, consistent and grounded. His faith is deep and genuine, and it drives him to be a force for good.

Dungy noted on Twitter, “14 yrs ago Pres Obama said the same things almost verbatim. I’m assuming people were outraged at him too. I am serving the Lord, so I’ll keep supporting dads and families.”

This bill won’t be the magic solution for everyone, but it’s a good start toward doing something about a long-term problem. Education and responsible fatherhood are good, and maybe this will help.

Tony Dungy is good, and I’ll leave you with this thought.

The world would be a far better place with more Dungys and fewer Keith Olbermanns.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • just sayin

    April 14, 2022 at 7:58 am

    Keith Olbermann is emblematic of why the party will lose minority voters (and with them any relevance) if it doesn’t change course. I think they’ll figure it out, but it won’t be an easy lesson.

    • Michael G. Connors

      April 14, 2022 at 6:39 pm

      “The world would be a far better place with more Dungys and fewer Keith Olbermanns.”

      Great line. KO spews hate. TD is full of love.

  • Falcon78

    April 14, 2022 at 9:43 am

    I’ll take the common sense, belief in God, and good intentions of Tony Dungy any day of the week and twice on Sundays over the just foul, disingenuous, misguided words of those liberals seeking to subvert and undermine his message. The objective ‘truth’ is that children do far better in homes that have two married parents–a “mom” and a ‘dad”–to be there to guide their development. No responsibility is greater than a parent’s responsibility to raise their children to be God-fearing, productive, moral, and law abiding citizens. It’s really pretty simple and straight forward.

    • Truthteller

      April 14, 2022 at 11:21 am

      Any black person aligning himself with the repulsive De Santis deserve all the censure he receives, and more.

      • ryno

        April 14, 2022 at 11:37 am

        This is a good program and I would support it no matter who introducted it. You are a sick person.

      • MrBoz

        April 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm

        Because black people belong to the democrats? Is that what you mean?

      • Michael G. Connors

        April 14, 2022 at 6:38 pm

        “Repulsive.” That’s the problem w/ America’s Left (and some of its Right). They’re right and anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong, but evil.

        This has to stop.

    • Lynda

      April 14, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      RE: C. Latvala
      I am curious about the requirement for people to be married to succeed as parents in Falcon78’s comment. The bill cited in the article does not impose marriage as a condition of receiving funds or help. One’s faith in G-D is a personal matter, and no public bill can or should favor one religion over another This bill should not require religious membership.

      Marriage at its basic idea is a contract between two adults. Even an annulment between those adults does not in any way change the status of the children. Responsibilities to children are governed by state laws and custody documents which can be signed by adults who were not married to each other.

      Tony Dungy is a man who has earned great respect in his life and his profession. deSantis has imposed in Florida policies with negative consequences and directly contrary to voter wishes and treated Florida residents with contempt if the express opposition. It is unfortunate that the bill presentation in this article did not include those who oppose deSantis but may have voted for this bill or expressed their rights to have different ideas to encourage fatherhood among young adults.

      deSantis has a tendency to exclude ideas to solve common state issues from anyone or any group he considers opposed to him.

  • Charles Huggins III

    April 14, 2022 at 9:45 am

    More Tony, less Keith. Well said.

  • 3Rivers

    April 14, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    No doubt Tony is pure and socially active. I would like to see some facts, data, polls to support his contention that the problem is lack of dads, male role models, in the home. Other factors may be involved. And Tony’s example of concurring with a clergyman that young people in prison lack fathers is powerful and compelling. And remedial work is needed here, for sure. But is it jumping to conclusions to pin this to one factor, and could it be spinning one’s wheels to put resources toward programs based on a questionable premise when the resources might go elsewhere with a more comprehensive and enlightened approach. We have political slugs like DeSantis who are not above PR to make it look like they care and are doing something effective when the whole thing, and they know it, is just sound and fury being effective toward nothing. And, of course, this whole program fits nicely in with the agendas of religionists more concerned with their own propaganda than the welfare of young men prone to incarceration.

    • BlakeH02

      April 14, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      it all goes back to design. Marriage is a covenant not a contract. There are plenty of studies that show the design of the home, ie a husband and a wife, produces the best results. They aren’t perfect because Gods design has been marred by sin. Jesus came to fix that problem. Most “religionists” just aren’t following the manual by the Designer.

    • Brian

      April 14, 2022 at 7:53 pm

      Funny. DeSantis has a 54% approval/38% disapproval rate among Florida voters.

      • Tom

        April 16, 2022 at 8:36 am

        It’s a landslide, America’s Governor is pulling in 60% independents, 52% Hispanics and 95% Repubs.

        America’s Gov, Do for America what you have done for Florida.

  • Lucius Clay

    April 14, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Calling Dungy a bad person is like calling Einstein an idiot. It just sounds foolish

  • Tom

    April 15, 2022 at 10:59 pm

    Ron Brewer and Tony Dungy are committed to doing Gods work. They both articulate helping boys to be men and the need for men/fathers to be responsible towards their sons/kids.

    It is despicable and appalling that extremist Dem liberals think they can control others how to think. Shameful and pathetic.

    Governor DeSantis negotiated this regardless what Joe h says. He wasn’t turning over $70 million regardless what legislature says.

    Despicable haters espousing the devils hate and venom above comments. DeSantis is America’s Gov. as he’s done more for all Floridians ever! Regardless of color. More poor kids are going to charter public schools under scholarship per Gov. Ron.

    Brewer and Dungy are no fools, they support Desantis cause he is helping make a difference in poor kids lives.

    Shame on you haters. DeSantis, Do for America as you have accomplished for Florida.

    Rising tide lifts all boats. DeSantis policies for all, lifts all. Father forgive haters as they do not know what they speak.

Comments are closed.


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