I know some of you out there just sort of skip my posts about sports. But you may want to read this one.
Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show, when asked whether he would hire Jets coach Rex Ryan, Tony Dungy said he wouldn't because of his frequent use of 4-letter words. On HBO's Hard Knocks, Ryan frequently let loose strings of four-letter words (occasionally including the word "Jets"). When I heard Dungy's statement, I thought that was a bold statement and a statement of personal conviction, but not necessarily controversial. But now it's over 48 hours later and it's still a story.
First I saw reaction on Profootballtalk.com. The blog posted the story soon after the segment aired on Fox Sports Radio. The story itself revealed no opinion on what Dungy said, but there are now 222 comments, many of which rail against Dungy, calling him "Holier than thou", comparing Ryan with Michael Vick (whom Dungy mentored - definitely not apples-to-apples), and even bringing up the fact that his son had committed suicide several years ago (no matter how good a parent you are, you can't prevent everything).
The thing is, Dungy never said that Rex Ryan was a bad person or a bad coach. But it appears that Ryan is taking it that way. In comments to the press he said, "I felt that he unfairly judged me, and that was disappointing to me." But what did Dungy say that was different that what his own mother said after viewing Hard Knocks?
Besides, why would anyone think that Dungy working with Ryan would be a good coaching combination? They have entirely different styles - after all, Dungy's book was titled Quiet Strength. The former Colts coach didn't say that Ryan was a bad person, or a bad coach, just that he prefers not to be around someone who uses that much profanity.
I think the big hang up that people have is that Dungy mentioned that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should give Ryan a call and tell him to tone it down some. The thought that the commissioner's office dictating how coaches talk to their players is a little ridiculous.
But Ryan wasn't just talking to his players - he was talking to TV cameras. And Dungy didn't say that the NFL should fine the Jets' Coach, just that he should let him know that that is not the image the NFL wants to portray. The NFL fines players for flipping off crowds, hot dogging in the end zone and wearing socks that don't match. Why is it such a stretch that they would get involved with a coach using four-letter words in front of TV cameras? (And we're not talking about an accidental slip on a ref's game mic).
So why does a former coach who is trying to do the right thing, to guide young people, and to encourage men to become leaders and mentors and be a good a father elicit such a negative reaction from so many people? I can't even say they disagree with his views, but many disagree with his faith. Suddenly Tony Dungy is a bad guy for saying that he doesn't like profanity. The world is officially upside-down.