Michael Sam probably won’t become a distraction at the St. Louis Rams training camp this week, but guess who already has?
Tony Dungy, the former coach of both the Colts and Buccaneers, opened a large box of criticism for recently telling the Tampa Tribune that – if he were still coaching today – he would NOT have drafted Michael.
“…not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth… things will happen.”
Wait a second… Isn’t Dungy the same guy that tried to get Michael Vick back into the NFL scene?
How do you even put Michael Sam – who was just given the ESPYs’ Arthur Ashe Courage Award earlier this month – below a player that served time in federal prison for dog-fighting charges?
Sadly, Dungy’s comments about Sam are very consistent with his stance about gay rights over the years. In 2007, he accepted the “Friend of Family” award from the Indiana Family Institute and was asked about the group’s support for a state constitution amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman:
“We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else… But we’re trying to promote the family — family values the Lord’s way. Family is important, and that’s what we’re trying to support. We’re not anti-anything else and not trying to hate anyone else. We’re trying to promote the family, family values, the Lord’s way. Just like I’m trying to win on the football field the Lord’s way. I’m on the Lord’s side when I’m on the field, and on the Lord’s side when I’m off the field.”
Dungy has also criticized Obama’s stance on gay marriage:
“I was disappointed he veered from biblical view.”
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann thought Dungy’s comments revealed how distraction can be become discrimination:
“Tony Dungy just admitted… that Tony Dungy wouldn’t be a skilled enough coach to deal with the distraction of doing the right thing.”
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Dungy reiterated his concerns to the media (but not to his teammates) and defended his right to play in the NFL:
“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization… I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction. I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.”
Naturally, the adorable and inspiring Michael Sam responded with kindness, simply saying:
“Thank God he wasn’t the St. Louis Rams coach. I have a lot of respect for Coach Dungy. And like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”
Sam – in the midst of his first NFL training camp controversy ever – responded by acting like the entire thing wasn’t a thing at all. So maybe Dungy should reconsider whether he would draft “someone like” Sam – someone funny and kind and non-dramatic?
You go, Michael Sam. And we dare anyone else to come at you with a negative, close-minded comment.