NBC Sports analyst and former NFL coach Tony Dungy has been hit with a backlash after making approving statements about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles' Christian faith.
On-air, Dungy suggested Foles' faith would help him play with confidence and boost his performance. He echoed this strain of thought on social media and reported what Foles, who is likewise open about his Christian faith, told him:
This was enough to set-off the perpetually offended. One Twitter user, for example, tagged Dungy's employer and stated that it was "unbelievable" for the analyst to "spout this nonsense on the air."
Dungy did not remain silent, but responded to the criticism.
"NBC pays me to express my opinion," he wrote. "And it was my opinion that Nick Foles would play well because his Christian faith would allow him to to play with confidence. And that he’s a good QB. I think I was right on both counts."
Houston-based sports writer Stephanie Stradley also chimed-in with discontent over the former coach's comments. "I’m just not wanting it as a part of football analysis," she said.
"But if he tells me Christ says that to him, I shouldn’t report it???" Dungy pointedly asked.
The backlash was not constrained to social media. Reacting to the mild Christian-centered commentary, Kyle Koster, writing at The Big Lead, said NBC and the public should check Dungy when his religious beliefs "seep into his analyst role."
"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," wrote Koster, in a piece titled, "Is Tony Dungy Analyzing or Evangelizing When It Comes to Nick Foles?"