Former NFL head coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy spoke up recently about the league’s first openly gay player, telling the Tampa Bay Tribune he wouldn’t have selected Michael Sam like the St. Louis Rams did in this year’s NFL Draft.
“I wouldn’t have taken him. 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,” said Dungy. “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
What Dungy said isn’t necessarily controversial. It won’t get him fired, and he shouldn’t have to apologize for it. The political correctness police demanding apologies from our public figures for every little statement or opinion is one of the worst trends to emerge in the last few years. Dungy is entitled to his opinions.
But he’s also being disingenous when he points to unnamed “distractions” with Sam, which to this point have been nonexistent. Whatever Dungy’s opinions on Sam are, he’s hiding them behind the safety net of “it’s too much trouble”, without specifying what kind of trouble and for who. How much of a distraction was Jason Collins to the Brooklyn Nets this year?
ESPN host Keith Olberman calls Dungy’s bluff perfectly in the clip below, pointing out the hypocrisy of a black former coach painting all homosexual athletes with the same brush. Olbermann points out Dungy receiving an award from a group advocating against gay marriage several years ago, and Dungy’s unwavering support for Michael Vick to be given a second chance after the revelation that Vick ran a dog-fighting ring.
“I have a problem believing Tony Dungy’s sincerity in this one,” says Olbermann. “To Mr. Dungy, whatever the distractions Michael Vick presented were nothing compared to the distractions Michael Sam might present.
“I wouldn’t want to deal with it, things will happen,’ is remarkably similar to what football coaches and owners said until 1946 about players who looked like Tony Dungy. And it’s remarkably similar to what NFL owners said until 1989 about guys who wanted to become NFL head coaches who look like Tony Dungy.”
Olbermann’s takedown is brilliant because he points out the holes in Dungy’s argument without calling him a bigot or attacking his morals. When Collins came out as gay last year, ESPN’s Chris Broussard gave a much harsher take , espousing his religious beliefs as a reason he didnt agree with Collins’ liftestyle.
“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
Broussard took a lot of heat for his beliefs, but you have to wonder what’s worse: coming out and declaring your beliefs or hiding behind them. In Dungy’s case, his lack of declaration will ensure he keeps his job. It should also be a warning sign for the rest of us not to view him as some kind of moral arbiter.
Dungy issued a statement Tuesday in an attempt to clarify his comments, saying in part:
“I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team.
“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.”
Further down in the statement, Dungy says, “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.”