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Michael Sam Responds to Tony Dungy's Remarks with Grace and Humility: VIDEO

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Michael Sam reacted on Tuesday to remarks made by Tony Dungy this week suggesting that he wouldn't have drafted Sam because the Sam's sexual orientation would have been a distraction. Dungy later clarified his remarks and said that Sam should "absolutely" have the opportunity to play in the NFL.

Sam was asked about the remarks by reporters and responded with grace and humility:

Said Sam: "Thank God he wasn't St. Louis Rams' coach. But I have a great respect for Coach Dungy, and like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."

Sam was also asked if he would be surprised "if that pops up from time to time, that somebody disapproves?"

"It is what it is," said Sam. "What you gonna do about it? My focus is on making this team. I'm excited to be back with the guys. Football is fun."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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

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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".


Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO

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In 1975, David Kopay became the first NFL player, current or former, to come out publicly in the Washington Star. It was a stunning moment for sports, and he later revealed even more--including a one night stand with former Redskin player Jerry Smith--in his memoir, The David Kopay Story. Now, nearly forty years later, Kopay is one of many who are welcoming Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, with open (but concerned) arms. 

The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote about Kopay's experience:

"I was desperate," he says. "I was totally, 'What am I going to do with my life? Can I make a difference?' " He'd hoped his tale...would encourage other pro athletes to come out. But years turned to decades and few had followed suit. Meeting Sam, the gifted defensive end who shattered the last civil rights hurdle in pro sports when he kissed his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May, came as more than just a passing thrill. It was the culmination of a life's work.

One need only consider current attitudes toward gays in sports -- when a celebratory kiss between men can result in an uproar -- to grasp just how shocking Kopay's admission was for the 1970s. And yet somehow his remarkable story has faded over the years. According to columnist Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin, that largely is due to Kopay being eons ahead of his time. "I think it was honestly too early," says Leitch. "It was 1975. In four years, Al Pacino would be making Cruising. People were not ready for an NFL player being gay at all."

DavidKopay2And neither were Kopay's family and friends. Married at the time, he got divorced and was excommunicated by his Catholic mother; she left him with the kind parting words, "I created you and I can kill you." Kopay moved to San Francisco, rubbing shoulders with Harvey Milk and living with Armistead Maupin, then to Los Angeles where he has lived since.

Kopay swims laps daily at nearby Occidental College, regularly hits the Rose Bowl flea market and enjoys attending NFL alumni games and serving as honorary ambassador to the Gay Games. He lives alone, his garage lined with memory boards filled with photos of debauched days spent in New Orleans. Whenever he speaks of past loves, they are invariably of the unrequited kind.

It is understandable then that Sam's decision to kiss his boyfriend after receiving his draft call would dredge up proud but conflicted emotions for Kopay.

"I was a bit unnerved," Kopay admits of watching Sam plant a passionate smooch on boyfriend Vito Cammisano, the pair later smearing cake on each other's faces. "I'm old school, you know? Certainly I felt he had a right to kiss his boyfriend and I was really glad he did. But I was not so happy with the cake in the face. It was a little bit over the top. I just worried about him like, 'Oh, what's the fuss that this is going to cause?'"

Hopefully relatively little, and Kopay seems to admit that he is of a different era. He also took the first, and perhaps bravest step of all.

"I think it was the first brick removed from the wall of homophobia," says Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports.com. "When Kopay came out, the gay community was just beginning to find its identity. For a portion that didn't associate with the stereotypical gay identity, Dave's honesty was life-changing. I'm sure it saved lives."

Check out an interview with Kopay, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Keith Olbermann Destroys Tony Dungy For Homophobic Michael Sam Comment: VIDEO

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Former NFL coach-turned-NBC analyst Tony Dungy said this week that he would not have taken the NFL’s first openly gay player Michael Sam onto a team, “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.”

WorstReferring to Sam’s homosexuality, Dungy added, “It’s not going to be totally smooth… things will happen.”

Soon after, commentator Keith Olbermann took Dungy to task by mentioning that in 2007 Dungy supported an Indiana same-sex marriage ban, and in 2009 Dungy also argued for the re-admission of dog-fighter Michael Vick into the NFL.

Considering his stance on Vick, The Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz points out Dugger’s hypocrisy:

Vick’s crime was dog-fighting. Those who didn’t make the cut were shot, beaten and electrocuted. Three dogs were hanged, according to a report by the USDA inspector general, “by placing a nylon cord over a 2 x 4 that was nailed to two trees.” Three more dogs drowned after Vick’s crew put their heads in a 5 gallon bucket of water…

But Dungy has a serious problem on his hands trying to explain why a gay player is a bigger distraction as a guy who killed dogs. Since, you know, that wasn't a big story. #sarcasm…

Sam’s crime? He kissed a guy. On National TV, the day he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams…

“I believe in second chances for people who admit their mistakes and are committed to changing,” Dungy said…

But apparently Tony Dungy is not a big believer in first chances for someone who has made no mistakes, and all he is asking for is an opportunity.

In an e-mail statement responding to Dungy’s comments, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Talent is not a distraction. Michael Sam is first and foremost an excellent football player. That Tony Dungy can only see Michael Sam for his sexual orientation reflects how far out of touch Dungy has fallen with the NFL, which values a player because of his skill, not because of who he loves.”

Watch Olbermann's takedown of Dungy AFTER THE JUMP...

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Michael Sam Sits Down with Robin Roberts as He Prepares to Head to Training Camp: VIDEO

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Michael Sam sat down with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts this morning as he prepares to head to training camp. Sam spoke with Roberts about being drafted, his emotional speech at the ESPYs, and how he has been preparing for training season.

Sam told Roberts that he has lost 12 pounds: "I'm doing my job. Don't you worry!"

He also spoke briefly about

"I was kind of second-guessing myself, 'Maybe football turned it's back on me.' I was like, 'Maybe I shouldn't have done what I did.' You know? I had so many emotions going in my head. And then I felt a touch over my shoulder and it was Vito, and I was just, I was like, 'I don't care what happens. I know I did the right thing in my heart. And whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to move forward.'"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP....

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Michael Sam Delivers Emotional Speech After Receiving Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs: VIDEO

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St. Louis Rams player Michael Sam received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award last night at the ESPYs and delivered an emotional acceptance speech, his voice breaking several times, as he spoke about what the award meant to him.

Said Sam, in part:

The way I see it, my responsibility at this moment in history is to stand up for everybody out there who wants nothing more than to be themselves openly. Recently, a friend asked me to talk to his sister, a young woman who was considering killing herself rather than accepting and sharing with her loved ones the fact that she's gay. When we spoke, she told me she would never consider hurting herself and that somehow my example helped her. It's amazing to think that, by just doing what we can, we can all touch, change and even save lives.

Watch and read the transcript, AFTER THE JUMP...

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