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Tony Dungy Clarifies Michael Sam Remarks, Says Sam 'Absolutely' Deserves NFL Opportunity

Dungy

Former NFL coach-turned-NBC analyst Tony Dungy released a statement on Tuesday clarifying remarks that made headlines this week in which he suggested that he would not have drafted Michael Sam because of his sexual orientation.

Dungy released the statement to ProFootballTalk which reads, in part:

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.

I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way—by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play.  That’s my opinion as a coach.  But those were not the questions I was asked.

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.

Read Dungy's full statement here.

Keith Olbermann released a commentary last night ripping Dungy for his remarks and naming him the "world's worst person".

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Comments

  1. Now, why couldn't he see that claiming that even though a player merits inclusion on a team, the fact that the media will notice means he should definitely be kept off might constitute some of the very media distraction he says shouldn't happen?

    No bigotry here.

    Posted by: Lymis | Jul 22, 2014 6:36:43 PM


  2. But somehow a convicted criminal isn't a distraction for him.

    Posted by: Another Steve | Jul 22, 2014 6:38:57 PM


  3. Parse, parse, parse. Spin!

    Posted by: Parse & Spin | Jul 22, 2014 6:43:24 PM


  4. "But somehow a convicted criminal isn't a distraction for him."

    Of course not. That's not news.

    Posted by: Lymis | Jul 22, 2014 6:49:23 PM


  5. Is this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too week?! Who's that other clown spinning plates, who simultaneously supports marriage equality and 'traditional' (read hetero-exclusive) marriage?

    Posted by: CherryTomato | Jul 22, 2014 6:54:03 PM


  6. When I first saw the photo, I thought it was Obama with a Hitler moustache. Fitting.

    Posted by: jimstoic | Jul 22, 2014 7:00:03 PM


  7. The fact remains that he championed -- championed! -- the hiring of Michael Vick after he served his prison sentence.

    Are we really supposed to believe that Dungy never thought Vick would be a distraction?

    If you're going to be a bigot, at least don't be a coward, as well.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jul 22, 2014 7:09:30 PM


  8. NBC should fire him and say, "after this controversy his continued employment at the network would be a distraction, and frankly, we would rather not deal with it."

    Posted by: bierce | Jul 22, 2014 7:34:27 PM


  9. "What I meant to say is that I am a bigot but I briefly forgot that it's not longer OK with my employers or most of the public for me to be one publicly."

    Posted by: chris | Jul 22, 2014 7:35:20 PM


  10. adding more doesn't hide what was already said. he knows it, and knows he stepped in it, too.

    if he was entirely supportive, the only response would have been how much of a "non-issue" it would be for him and the team, and how he would welcome michael sam. he clearly has problems with sam, but no problems trying to backtrack when exposed.

    Posted by: northalabama | Jul 22, 2014 7:39:56 PM


  11. Then exactly who is being distracted - and from what?

    Posted by: David | Jul 22, 2014 8:10:36 PM


  12. jimstoic, you clearly have never seen a Hitler moustache.

    Google is your friend.

    Posted by: sting | Jul 22, 2014 8:16:44 PM


  13. You would think that a league that could deal with Michael Vick (remember? he went to prison for dog fighting) could deal with this.

    Posted by: RobNYNY1957 | Jul 22, 2014 9:22:31 PM


  14. @STING He doesn't need google, just a punch to the head.

    Posted by: Josh | Jul 22, 2014 10:20:28 PM


  15. Dungy's credentials as a bigot are well-established. Not a candidate for father of the year, either. Why oh why do we worship people just because they can tackle someone carrying a football?

    Posted by: jason MacBride | Jul 22, 2014 10:26:02 PM


  16. Liar
    Religious bigot

    Posted by: r | Jul 22, 2014 10:45:07 PM


  17. He's the one causing all the "Hankie waving"
    ...

    Posted by: styler | Jul 23, 2014 1:07:51 AM


  18. Bierce, well stated.

    Posted by: SoFla | Jul 23, 2014 2:57:02 AM


  19. Is it known why his young son (and Rick warren's) committed suicide?

    Posted by: r | Jul 23, 2014 5:27:04 AM


  20. Was a black player ever a distraction in the NFL?

    In baseball, Jackie robinson's distraction became heroism

    Posted by: r | Jul 23, 2014 5:30:41 AM


  21. I wonder who wrote this for him?

    Posted by: Jack M | Jul 23, 2014 7:56:13 AM


  22. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, except for the football part.

    Posted by: sjorgl | Jul 23, 2014 9:30:48 AM


  23. "I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does."

    But you said that you wouldn't have drafted him because you didn't want to deal with the fact that he's gay. Therefore, you would be in a position to deny him the opportunity to play in the NFL. How do you reconcile the two?

    "I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not."

    But you said that you wouldn't have drafted him becuase you didn't want to deal with the fact that he's gay. Therefore, his sexual orientation played would have played a part in the evaluation process. How do you reconcile the two?

    "I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not."

    But you said that you wouldn't have drafted him because you didn't want to deal with the fact that he's gay. Therefore, you clearly would have had a problem with him being on your team. How do you reconcile the two?

    "I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction."

    But so does everything else in a person's life. Being the number one draft pick brings media attention that would be a distraction. Are you saying you would never choose first in the draft due to the media attention being the number one draft would bring?

    "Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction."

    I'm sure you do. But I don't think you truly understand the irony of your situation. You are still trying to deny that you did anything wrong. And that means you aren't really apologizing. And that means the "distraction" will only continue. The only way this goes away is for you to stop trying to salvage some sort of dignity for yourself and admit that you were wrong, completely and totally, and that you won't do it again.

    Unless and until you do that, it will always remain a question.

    Posted by: Rrhain | Jul 23, 2014 3:17:28 PM


  24. he's a practicing catholic, btw

    Posted by: woody | Jul 23, 2014 6:58:38 PM


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