Editor’s Note: This article is the first of two parts examining the anti-LGBT past and present of Hall of Fame former NFL coach and current NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy.
Tony Dungy and James Brown — two main faces of NFL coverage by NBC and CBS — have for years been featured speakers at an event hosted by rabidly anti-gay Christian evangelist Andrew Wommack, who has equated being gay to murder, among many other statements.
The duo will again support Wommack’s ministry this March at an event called “Men’s Advance.” The event is hosted by Wommack at his Charis Bible College in Colorado. The evangelist and his college advance anti-gay and anti-trans beliefs — among other priorities — claiming to root them in Christian doctrine.
Dungy has for years publicly advocated against gay rights. In 2006 — then the successful head coach of the Indianapolis Colts — Dungy raised money to oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples. He has spoken out against gay NBA player Jason Collins’ “lifestyle” and said he wouldn’t want gay player Michael Sam on his team, despite advocating for federally convicted dog-murderer Michael Vick and indicted alleged woman-beater Ray Rice.
Brown has been a part of NFL coverage by CBS since 2006 and has been featured as a journalist on “CBS Evening News” and “60 Minutes.”
Outsports cannot find any public commentary by Brown that disparages the gay community or opposes equality for LGBT people. While he is closely associated wit the anti-gay Wommack and his Bible college, Brown has not publicly supported anti-gay doctrine specifically. Outsports reached out to CBS multiple times for comment from James or the network, but the network declined to comment.
Both of the men — who say they are “best friends” — have generally positive reputations throughout the NFL and sports media. Because of his widespread reputation as a leader and success on the football field, Dungy in particular has gotten a pass from his colleagues for his anti-gay rhetoric for years.
Staying with that trend, NBC also declined to comment for this story.
Andrew Wommack’s anti-LGBT rhetoric uses cruel language
It’s impossible to believe these two men don’t know some of the flagrantly anti-LGBT comments Wommack has shared publicly on countless occasions.
Wommack’s anti-gay stance is not subtle. In 2021, he declared that being gay is so detrimental to people’s lives, “we ought to put a label across their forehead: ‘This could be hazardous to your health.’”
He added that homosexuality is worse for someone’s health than smoking cigarettes:
In one of his online teachings, Wommack spends an hour lashing out at homosexuality and the homosexual “lifestyle.”
“We need to come out against the behavior because society has to establish what norms are,” Wommack says in a sermon. “Homosexuality has been accepted — they have gay prides.... Now they are lobbying for acceptance and even promoting it as an accepted and normal lifestyle, and it’s not.
“If you are a Christian, if you claim to be a Christian, and you promote homosexuality as an accepted lifestyle... if you believe that, you are taking a stand completely against the word of god.”
He has publicly compared homosexuality to murder.
Last year Wommack said transgender people are “from the devil. ... Satan is the author of it.”
The connection between these three men and the Men’s Advance event
The Men’s Advance event is hosted by Wommack at his Charis Bible College, which includes anti-LGBT language among its 10 core statements of faith:
We believe in marriage between one man and one woman as biologically designed at birth. God instituted marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society (Genesis 2:24). God has commanded that no sexual activity be committed other than in the context of marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 19:5, 26:8-11; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1, 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4). God has wonderfully and immutably created each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders, together, reflect the image and nature of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
Both Brown and Dungy have praised Wommack. Dungy has said, “I enjoy ministering with Andrew,” with Brown calling him a “leader.” Wommack has called Brown his “good friend,” and Brown has publicly appeared with Wommack beyond this annual event.
Neither Brown nor Dungy has, as far as Outsports can find, publicly referenced Wommack’s anti-LGBT efforts in their praise.
While both NBC and CBS declined to comment for this story, it’s hard to believe they would remain silent — or that Dungy and Brown would associate with the preacher — if Wommack advocated for branding a racial minority as “hazardous” on their forehead, or said they are more dangerous to people’s health than smoking cigarettes.
As the Bible is today being used by Wommack and others to attack the LGBT community, passages in the book have also been used to oppose interracial marriage.
Outsports reviewed several hours of recordings of these two men speaking at previous Men’s Advance events. In that time, neither of them said anything anti-gay or made any reference to the LGBT community. Focused on promoting Christian doctrine, the tenor of the specific event aims to be positive and uplifting.
The sermons by Brown and Dungy at the event reflected that, focusing on self-improvement by way of lessons in the Bible.
You can watch one of Brown’s sermons from last year here:
Still, it will be a tough pill to swallow for many LGBT people — as well as allies — to learn these two men openly embrace someone who has made such cruel public comments about the LGBT community. In a recent Twitter poll, 96% of Outsports readers expressed discomfort with listening to someone who has embraced an anti-gay preacher discuss the NFL on television.
Dungy and Brown will be front-and-center for the the NFL Playoffs the next three weekends.
The Men’s Advance 2023 event featuring Wommack, Dungy and Brown will be held this March 9-11 at Charis Bible College, about a half hour northwest of Colorado Springs. The event is free.