Tony Dungy became persona non-grata this week after saying he would not have drafted Michael Sam. A day later, Dungy decided to “clarify” his original comments. Sam also was asked about the comments Tuesday and responded.
“Thank God he wasn’t St. Louis Rams’ coach,” Sam joked to the media. “But I have a great respect for (Tony) Dungy, and everyone in America is entitled to their own opinions.”
That’s a pretty good response from Sam, who did not want to continue talking about that subject.
“I don’t really care what people are coming up and talking about,” Sam said after being faced with another question from the media about Dungy. “My job is to make this team, that’s my number one priority.”
Dungy issued a statement Tuesday to elaborate on his controversial comments about not wanting to draft Sam. Dungy says the media circus surrounding Sam is what would have dissuaded him.
His statement is below.
“I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that I would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.
“I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does. I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not. I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.
“That’s my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked,” Dungy wrote. “What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.
“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,” Dungy wrote. “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.
“My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation.”
Dungy’s point is understood and well taken, but it’s not what many people would have hoped to hear from him. Dungy is supposed to be a leader and role model. He’s written a book about being a successful coach and about being a good parent. The reason he’s on TV is because he has an enlightened viewpoint on life. For him to say he wouldn’t have taken a gay player not because he’s not good, but because he’d be a distraction, is not what we would expect from a man like him. Leaders like Dungy are supposed to be up to the challenge of handling a locker room and team with Sam around. That’s what makes his comments disappointing.Google+