Television commentator and former NFL coach Tony Dungy is defending NBA players and other professional athletes who stand for the national anthem – as well as those who opt to kneel.
Dungy, in a series of tweets over the weekend, discussed the decision by Jonathan Isaac of the NBA’s Orlando Magic to stand during the anthem. Up until that moment, every player in the league had kneeled.
Isaac defended his decision by referencing his Christian faith, saying “Jesus is the answer” to America’s problems.
“We’ve said people should be able to exercise their right to kneel during the National Anthem and we should listen & hear their reasons why,” tweeted Dungy, who was the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl. “When Jonathan Isaac chooses to stand we should do the same. He explained his reasons very clearly -- he wants to stand in prayer. I say Amen!”
We’ve said people should be able to exercise their right to kneel during the National Anthem and we should listen & hear their reasons why. When Jonathan Isaac chooses to stand we should do the same. He explained his reasons very clearly-he wants to stand in prayer. I say Amen!🙏🏽 https://t.co/lu0JZR0SYh— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) July 31, 2020
Dungy then responded to several Twitter followers who either objected to his statement or had questions.
To one person who said Isaac should have kneeled, Dungy wrote, “You’re making the same argument about standing and not wearing a shirt that people made four years ago about kneeling. I don’t think it’s true that either one is disrespectful … and hurts the cause.”
When someone said Isaac would be considered an outcast in the NBA, Dungy wrote, “I’m not sure he will be considered an outcast. But if he is that’s OK. I’d rather be looked at as an outcast and be in Jesus’ ‘in crowd’!?”
I’m not sure he will be considered an outcast. But if he is that’s OK. I’d rather be looked at as an outcast and be in Jesus’ “in crowd”!— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) July 31, 2020
When a follower said Isaac’s message was muddled, Dungy said it was clear: “He supports social justice but he is not going to kneel for a political or social reason. If he kneels it will be to honor God. And he’s not going to kneel simply because everyone else is kneeling.”
Dungy said he stood as a head coach when the national anthem was played.
“I think God is concerned about our attitude when coming to Him more so than our posture,” he tweeted.
Dungy even responded to someone who said racists were religious.
“You’re talking about ‘religion’. Christianity is not that,” Dungy wrote. “True Christianity does not harbor hate or support mistreatment of anyone. It’s saying follow the teachings of Christ. Don’t compare that to people who say they are ‘religious’. That’s two different things.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Halleran/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.