Super Bowl winning coach and NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy is under fire for comments he made in an interview about St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam – the first openly gay NFL player. Dungy told the Tampa Tribune he would not have drafted Sam to his team. On radio this morning, Glenn, Pat, and Stu reacted to the phony outrage.
In an interview with the Tampa Tribune published Monday, Dungy explained he would not have drafted Sam to his team – not because he is gay but because he personally would not want his team to deal with the distractions of a player filming a reality TV show. At the time the Tribune article was conducted, Sam was rumored to be participating in a reality show for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.
“I wouldn’t have taken him," Dungy told the paper. “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."
While the majority of the mainstream media has criticized Dungy, at least one prominent commentator is defending the former coach. ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith – who made headlines for speaking out about Sam following the NFL Draft in May – said he does not believe Dungy’s comments were “remotely controversial.” In turn, fellow commentator Skip Bayless said he was “shocked” at Smith’s take.
Watch the exchange below:
After hearing Smith’s remarks, Glenn called praised the commentator saying, “this guy makes more sense than almost any other person on TV.”
Like Smith, Glenn recognized Dungy was speaking from a coach’s perspective. That perspective has nothing to do with a player’s sexual orientation and everything to do with how an individual will affect the dynamic of a team.
“Now, wait a minute, hang on just a second. Isn't that what a coach should do,” Glenn asked. “He should look for the one that can keep focused, has the best talent, has the best ability, and then also take into accountability is the guy focused? And you know that Michael Sam was doing a deal unbeknownst to the team for the OWN network with Oprah Winfrey.”
Dungy has issued a lengthy response to the Tampa Tribune article via NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, in which he clarifies his remarks had nothing to do with Sam being gay. He went on to say he hopes the media will stop focusing on Sam’s sexual orientation and start focusing on his abilities as an NFL player.
On Monday afternoon while on vacation with my family, I was quite surprised to read excerpts from an interview I gave several weeks ago related to this year’s NFL Draft, and I feel compelled to clarify those remarks.
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 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.
Read Dungy’s full response HERE.