A couple months ago, just after the NFL Draft, Tony Dungy was asked by a Tampa sports reporter about Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. “I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy, said. “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,” the Super Bowl winning coach and current football analyst for NBC said.
The world has been up in arms about this statement, so I thought I’d take some time to defend Dungy, a man I’ve met, admired and respected for nearly two decades now. Dungy was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning, and he talked about his comments, that had not been an issue for two months.
6 Reasons Why Tony Dungy is Right About Michael Sam
In no particular order, here’s why:
1. He was asked about Sam just after the draft, when the reality show was announced. The comment “things will happen,” referred to the distractions that will come for an NFL team that drafts the first openly gay player.
2. He answered a question with the truth – his opinion. His opinion wasn’t that Sam shouldn’t play, it was that he wouldn’t have drafted him.
3. If any other rookie in the NFL had a reality show announced just days after the NFL Draft, he would have been ripped apart by teammates, NFL players and fans. There’s no doubt, it will be an intriguing look into the life of an openly gay NFL player, but it’s a distraction. One Rams player already said it was – one day after the show was announced. The same day, as a matter of fact, that Dungy made his comments.
4. People condemn Dungy’s religious beliefs for his comments, when it in fact did not have to do with his comments at all. Dungy has drafted other players that didn’t live by his standards, and he coached dozens of players of different religious beliefs. His comments were about the distraction, not the man’s sexual orientation. He clarified that in a statement yesterday, when he said, “I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.”
5. Thirty-one NFL teams agreed with him by not drafting him. You could even throw in the Rams, who passed on him for five rounds.
6. The mere fact that Dungy’s comments has become a story is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it shows how Sam’s arrival to the NFL has become a distraction. Do you think the dozens of questions Rams coaches and players, including Sam, are getting about Dungy’s comments would have happened otherwise?
Dungy has also been vilified for saying someone should take a chance on Michael Vick, who was imprisoned for running a dogfighting ring, when he returned to the NFL in 2009. First, the distractions are completely different, although, yes, they are still distractions. Second, Vick wasn’t a rookie that he didn’t know how he would react to the distractions. Third, Dungy didn’t have a personal relationship with Sam, like he had built with Vick up to that point.
As for my own opinion, as if it matters, I have no problem with homosexuals in sports, in the NFL, in the military or anywhere else. I do have a problem with people ganging up on a good person for what has turned out to be a true statement.
Tony Dungy was right when he made the comments about Michael Sam after the NFL Draft, and he’s right now, a couple months later. Why? Because he was asked what he would do – and he answered. When have you ever been wrong about a hypothetical question about what you would do?