Thanks to some snitching parents and a reactionary, uptight school administration, former NFL corner Fernando Bryant is now out of a job.
Bryant was fired 20 days after signing a contract with Strong Rock Christian School to be the private K-12 school’s new P.E. teacher and football coach, according to a report from 11Alive. The Georgia native was let go after an anonymous parent contacted the school with a three-year old photo showing Bryant holding what appears to be an unopened bottle of alcohol while standing next to his wife. The school offered him the chance to resign; he (rightfully) refused and was summarily fired.
Bryant played his college ball with Alabama before spending 10 years in the NFL, ending his career with a Super Bowl win as a member of the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers. Since retiring, Bryant took on assistant coaching gigs at Limestone College and an Atlanta high school before moving on to Strong Rock.
Bryant is an observing Christian—a prerequisite for the job as the school only hires faculty that are born-again Christians and has them sign a statement of faith. There are, however, no stipulations denying faculty access to alcohol or a social media policy requiring they remove any old pictures of them holding alcohol.
According to the school’s letter informing him of his loss of employment, his “family’s public presence on social media” was some-fucking-how not “consistent with our Christian values.” While the school does not cite it, both Bryant and an unnamed sourced told 11Alive the parent and school took issue with a specific picture—one of him holding a bottle of some kind of alcohol taken and posted to his wife’s private Instagram page three years ago.
The photo was taken at a shoot for Be Magazine, and featured Bryant’s wife, Amber, who was doing the event as part of a promo tour for her Bravo TV show “Mother Funders.”
Here’s the picture at the center of all this:
The school interviewed Bryant for two months, called his wife, checked both his and her social media accounts before extending an offer, and, according to a source that spoke with 11Alive, was already aware of the photo and even addressed his wife’s show in interviews before offering him the job.
Despite reportedly acting the exact opposite in phone and face-to-face conversations with him, the school would now have Bryant believe that his “family’s public presence on social media and the internet” conflicted with their values. Here’s the full letter from Strong Rock confirming his firing, via 11Alive:
“This letter will confirm that Strong Rock Christian School has made a decision not to move forward with your employment in the position of head coach of the football team and physical education teacher. As we discussed, after we made the offer to you, some within our parent community raised concerns regarding your family’s public presence on social media and the internet and questioned whether the postings and information were consistent with our Christian values. We’re sorry that our relationship had to end before it started. We wish you the best,” the letter stated.
Bryant told the news station he was debating taking legal action against Strong Rock but had yet to decide. He told 11Alive he was disappointed with the school’s decision-making process, pointing out that the three-year old photo—which, my god, look how fucking tame that photo is—does not undermine his present-day personal and religious character:
“It is a little disheartening. I went through a long process,” Bryant said. “I don’t understand it from the standpoint of the day they hired me to the day they said they couldn’t have me as their head coach. Nothing had changed. Nothing changed from the standpoint of anything they knew about me.”
“If one parent or one part of a school can control it that much as far as Christianity, it makes you wonder what times we’re in,” he said. “I am a Christian, that’s the one thing that gives Christianity a bad name, when we start passing judgment on each other.”
Whether this is the case of a private Christian school creating its own version of the New Testament, an uptight parent stumbling upon some of Be Magazine’s, uh, spicier content, or just some old-fashioned racism is unclear. The only constant in every scenario is that Bryant got fucked.