The New York Giants' decision to hire David Tyree as their new Director of Player Development — a move that was announced earlier this week — has ignited a firestorm across the league and throughout the LGBT community. It has twice drawn the ire of the Human Rights Campaign — once when the hire was first announced and then again when the hire was defended — and even drew some criticism from former members of the Giants.
"Number one, he was qualified for the job. He is a terrific fit for us and we're happy to have him on board," General Manager Jerry Reese said earlier this week. "Sometimes you say some things that maybe you don't want to say or shouldn't have said and things can get blown out of proportion to a degree. But I'm not here to talk about social issues or somebody's personal opinion about their beliefs.
"I believe everybody should be treated equal, I believe everybody should be treated fairly, I believe everybody should have an opinion on what they want to say. Most of all I believe I should mind my own business and try to keep the plank out of my own eye."
Despite the Giants' very public equal rights stance, which includes support of the LGBT community, critics of this hire refused to focus on anything other than David Tyree's religious beliefs and comments he made in both 2011 and 2013, which included a willingness to hypothetically trade the Super Bowl XLII title for the elimination of gay marriage and a belief in conversion therapy.
"When did Tyree decide to be straight?" Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin asked in the statement. "The idea that someone can change their sexual orientation or gender identity is ludicrous, and the New York Giants are risking their credibility by hiring someone who publicly advocates this junk science. His opposition to basic legal equality aside, David Tyree's proselytizing of such dangerous practices goes against the positive work the Giants organization has done in recent years."
One person who wasn't so quick to express an intolerance of Tyree's religious beliefs — although he admittedly doesn't agree with them — was Wade Davis, an openly gay former NFL player who gave Tyree a chance to express his beliefs in a way that opened the door to not only positive communication, but now, a budding friendship.
"During the current media firestorm surrounding Giants’ hiring of David, I paused to reflect on my initial resistance toward him and asked myself, can we create the space for all individuals to evolve? Have we given up on understanding, engaging, and educating? Are we unwilling to offer compassion to those whose views may shock or offend us? Why has the default response now become to vilify and judge before we seek to ask questions?" Davis recently wrote.
As Davis spent more time with Tyree and his family, he came to realize Tyree wasn't actually attempting to change anyone, but just wasn't expressing his religious beliefs in the most appropriate of ways. But now, with the lines of communication fully open, Tyree has been able to get his message across through Davis.
"Christianity teaches us love, compassion, and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that," Tyree said.
Despite the support of Wade Davis and other members of the LGBT community, the Human Rights Campaign has not removed their multiple statements demeaning the Giants or Tyree, and have not offered any follow-up on Davis' remarks or Tyree's latest statement.
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Tags: David Tyree, Football, Jerry Reese, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Wade Davis