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This Pro Football Hall of Famer is facing criticism for attending the March for Life

Tony Dungy, an NFL analyst and former coach, is outspoken about his conservative religious beliefs

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Liam McHugh and Tony Dungy talk on set before a game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos on Dec. 14, 2017.

Liam McHugh, left, talks with Tony Dungy on set before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos in Indianapolis, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Dungy is facing pushback over his participation in the 2023 March for Life.

Darron Cummings, Associated Press

Former NFL coach and current analyst Tony Dungy took to Twitter on Thursday to share his excitement for an upcoming adventure.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer said Friday would mark his first time at the March for Life, an annual event in Washington, D.C., that brings together abortion opponents from across the country.

“I’m looking forward to joining my friend (author Benjamin Watson) and thousands of others who will be there to support those unborn babies who don’t have a voice,” Dungy tweeted.

The former coach’s post garnered more than 26,000 likes as of midday Friday, as well as hundreds of messages of support.

But it also sparked intense pushback from sports commentators and others who argued that Dungy’s conservative religious and political opinions should disqualify him from his current NFL work.

“Dear (NBC Sports) - if you have any remaining concern for your operational reputation, fire Tony Dungy now. He is using you,” wrote political commentator Keith Olbermann in his quote tweet of Dungy’s March for Life post.

Dave Zirin of The Nation cited the coach’s tweet in a column about some of Dungy’s other controversial views. Zirin noted that the NFL analyst has repeatedly questioned whether gay athletes belong in professional sports and that he recently tweeted a debunked rumor that school districts would put cat litter in school bathrooms for students who identify as cats.

“Dungy is held up as a deeply religious man and nearly a patron saint of the league. ... But what in the world is ‘religious’ about bearing false witness against teachers and children with a lie that has had real-life repercussions?” Zirin wrote.

This recent wave of anti-Dungy criticism has sparked a corresponding backlash. High-profile religious and political leaders have come to Dungy’s defense, arguing that he should be applauded for his stance on abortion and other issues.

“The media may label (Dungy) an extremist for speaking at 2023 March for Life, but the Dems’ party platform & voting record define extremism,” tweeted Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

Dungy, meanwhile, has not addressed complaints about his March for Life participation. This weekend, he’ll be back in action on NBC, helping with the network’s coverage of the NFL playoffs.