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Tony Dungy’s statement regarding his Michael Sam comments

[Editor’s note:  In response to quotes that appeared in Monday’s Tampa Tribune, Tony Dungy has released a statement.  The full content of it appears below.]

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 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.

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.

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44 Responses to “Tony Dungy’s statement regarding his Michael Sam comments”
  1. gayforbrady says: Jul 22, 2014 1:04 PM

    I had more respect for Dungy before he put out this PC statement.

  2. gayforbrady says: Jul 22, 2014 1:08 PM

    The hypocrisy with his statement.

    He philosophy says he would be a distraction for Dungy’s team but would not be a distraction for the Rams.

    Isn’t that saying your a bad coach?

  3. steelersfanjclii says: Jul 22, 2014 1:09 PM

    Sounds like a load of bull….

  4. dsume001 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:09 PM

    great response to what could have a been a smear on an awesome career for tony. im pro michael sam life style and okay with tony’s view on the matter whether he says it or not. we now can understand that when he is asked about football related issued, while he has his faith, its not part of his analysis. everyone back to work.

  5. strockrocks says: Jul 22, 2014 1:14 PM

    There is a BIG difference in saying there will be a distraction because of one’s sexual orientation on the team and the media frenzy it creates. Dungy or the media should of made this clear originally, not after the backlash….

  6. bobby927 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:16 PM

    C Y A, Tony

  7. rextraordinaire says: Jul 22, 2014 1:18 PM

    Am I the only one who doesn’t take issue with his comments? He’s not rejecting Sam, he’s rejecting everyone that’s going to tag along with him. Its a lot of hooplah over a guy who might not make the final roster, let alone the backlash from the LGBT community if he is cut, who will claim he was cut only because he’s gay.

  8. thepftpoet says: Jul 22, 2014 1:18 PM

    The PC Police is turning America into a communist country.

    You may thumbs down this statement, but it will be true if this keeps happening.

    Stop conforming, make your own mind up.

  9. larryravor says: Jul 22, 2014 1:20 PM

    Lost respect for Dungy with his reply. At times, he professes to be holier than thou, but not in this case.

    Dungy previously had said he would be fine with M. Vick on his team. Who has caused more distractions in the NFL than Vick!! To this day, even though he has paid for his crime, he is still a distraction.

    Come on Mr. Dungy!! Isn’t the truth that you would not want a gay man on your team????

  10. tatum064 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:25 PM

    Why do people keep re-stating or apologizing for telling the truth. Its a stupid a$% distraction that allows media scrutiny into the NFL lockerroom and it is well known that players know this a distraction and are sick of it.

  11. zmoney916 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:26 PM

    Tony Dungy is the worst, overrated coach and human (sorry Peter King, I hate to bash your hero). No need to cover up his bs when we know how he feels about this subject.

    Enough baloney Tony!

  12. pete2112 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:27 PM

    Too late, Tony. This is something he should have just stayed away from.
    If you support Michael Vick and Marvin Harrsion you should probably just lie and say you would for Sam, despite whatever distractions come with it.

  13. rayburns says: Jul 22, 2014 1:29 PM

    There was a lot of hoopla and hype (and backlash) when the NFL first integrated, but it took visionary coaches and owners to look past the immediate media storm. I’m kind of saddened that it appears Dungy is not one of those visionaries…

  14. 123makarov says: Jul 22, 2014 1:29 PM

    So Dungy would have LOVED to draft Manziel and Tebow, despite media distraction.

    Wouldn’t draft Sam because of media distraction.

    Something funny going on here.

  15. marc68 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:30 PM

    Why is EVERYTHING a big deal with the media these days???

    The distraction of Michael Sam will be when he is cut……. They can not win with him.
    They cut him everyone will think it’s because he is gay.
    Honestly,,, of all the teams in the league, the Rams are the last team that needs him.
    They have an amazing d-line.

    So tired of anyone being crucified for having an opinion.

  16. bradjames33160 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:32 PM

    how typical, nice to see that the perpetually butt-hurt libs will not forgive Tony Dungy when he didn’t do anything wrong to begin with. He shared his opinion, but in the world in which we now live, you’re a reprobate scumbag if you deign to have differing views than the left.

  17. dlc618 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:33 PM

    He should have just said, “I just don’t think he’s good enough to play.” and left it at that. Bad response.

  18. codyalanreel says: Jul 22, 2014 1:40 PM

    Any problems that ANYbody has with ANYthing that Tony Dungy has said shows the problems of the modern Left.

  19. bradjames33160 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:40 PM

    @dlc618, “it’s a bad response” because you don’t agree with it. What really angers me in these modern times is that no one can contribute anything to the conversation if one party doesn’t agree with the liberals

  20. blackandbluedivision says: Jul 22, 2014 1:50 PM

    The media STILL amazes me. You criticize a guy for saying Sam is going to be a distraction. But, you fuel is point…by CAUSING the distraction.

    Treat the guy like a 7th round rookie and leave it at that. The media is the one’s who treat him differently because of his sexual orientation.

  21. dmartin17 says: Jul 22, 2014 1:57 PM

    This statement shows one thing, Dungy doesn’t mind distractions unless they conflict with his biblical views.

    Guy has apparently never had any distractions on his team… oh wait…

  22. twerkslikeMiley says: Jul 22, 2014 2:09 PM

    Go away Dungy. Just go away.

  23. badmoonrison says: Jul 22, 2014 2:16 PM

    I usually dont care for Dungy and his soapbox/better than thou/NFL pseudo-moral compass, but his statement passes the smell test in this situation.

  24. zmoney916 says: Jul 22, 2014 2:25 PM

    it’s oprah’s fault

  25. ilovecostcobut says: Jul 22, 2014 2:30 PM

    Michael Vick, the largest distraction EVER! was not a problem for Mr. Christian. Bull!

  26. dkennie says: Jul 22, 2014 2:33 PM

    I just think that this goes along with his son James and why he hung himself imho. Tony just doesn’t support gays.

  27. phillyphan420 says: Jul 22, 2014 2:59 PM

    The man clarifies his statement, yet angry, self-proclaimed “open minded” people refuse to listen, shut down, and act like they’re in his head, know his true motives, and hear what they want to hear.

  28. coachshep62 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:00 PM

    Tony Dungy has always been a class coach and a winner..

  29. champs794 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:06 PM

    The shifting arguments he uses against Sam could just as easily be used against hiring Dungy back in the day. And by his own measure, Dungy’s own “distractions” are good reason not to hire him today, either.

    Chuck Noll put down the ladder anyway. Don’t pull it up, Tony!

  30. winstonjed44 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:10 PM

    This qualifying statement does not make it any better, because now he sounds like a hypocrite. He wouldn’t take Sam because he brings extra media attention, yet he was a big supporter of Vick, who also brought media distraction, and has said Tebow deserves another shot, and I don’t know if there has even been a bigger media distraction.

  31. xinellum says: Jul 22, 2014 3:10 PM

    CYA and probably exactly what his attorney and PR people told him to say after he displayed his true colors and exposed his bias. Funny about the distraction thing as he was all for Tebow and Manziel. Huh. Sounds like a guy who is trying to avoid repercussions for his ignorance. This will give NBC an excuse to keep him employed when, like Jimmy “TheGreek”, he made a comment that showed who he really was. Of course, let’s throw the white guy, Sterling, under the bus and crucify him for private comments, but let the black guy hem and haw and save his job after making a discriminatory statement in public

  32. onechess17 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:19 PM

    He says here he would not because of the distractions involved that come along with Sam. I wonder how he says this after being a champion for Michael Vick in his return from prison for the abuse of animals?? There was never more distractions and more of a media circus than Vick. I do not think he is a bigot intentionally but do believe his religion blinds him to his double standard in the treatment of these 2 men!!

  33. mogogo1 says: Jul 22, 2014 3:52 PM

    Lost in all this is that Sam had a really rough combine. That was why most teams didn’t want to draft him. Throw in the potential circus of a reality show and that was yet another reason to look elsewhere.

  34. smillr58 says: Jul 22, 2014 4:26 PM

    What a bunch of crap all these posts attacking Dungy!! So SICK of the majority of comments posted here! Freedom of Speech! All you pc people please go FYS! And go some where else!!

  35. bcgreen21 says: Jul 22, 2014 4:52 PM

    There’s a big difference between a top round draft pick who will be a productive member of the team being a distraction (Vick, Manziel, Harrison, Keyshawn) and a low rounder who may not be good enough to see playing time. Leave the politics out of the equation.

  36. onechess17 says: Jul 22, 2014 4:58 PM

    Freedom of speech not only means that you can say you would not draft Sam but also means others can say that you are wrong….really wrong. If he does not make on merit of his skill then cut him. I am tired of people’s prejudice being protected by calling others politically correct. You don’t like most of the comments here then you take your BS somewhere else!!!!!!

  37. drunkwino says: Jul 22, 2014 5:18 PM

    I’m all for equal rights and equal treatment for everybody. Problem is when somebody like Dungy (Christian,) says something that’s very very very easy to understand (wanting to minimise distractions on and off the field,) only to see a bunch of anti-religion and anti-different opinion thought police fascists taken from the pages of the book 1984 distort it beyond any reasonable interpretation for the sole purpose of being anti-christion bigots does nothing but set back the case for equality.

    If you’re really pro-equality then instead of trying to attention seekers making everything about you and attempting to suppress free speech and religious freedom, you should be working with others to show we’re all equal. You ARE the thing you say you’re fighting against.

  38. onemorebamafan says: Jul 22, 2014 5:56 PM

    Yea…
    Uh-huh…
    I wonder if Jackie Robinson was a distraction for the Dodgers.
    My respect for Dungy: currently zero.

  39. truths4all says: Jul 22, 2014 8:10 PM

    The gay/lesbian Nazi Gestapo will be out in force demanding the head of anyone expressing his opinion that does not endorse their radical agenda.

    Isn’t time for Americans to stand up and protect their Right of Free Speech? When will Americans move to once again demand their Free Speech Rights that does not have to be approved by the Radical Liberal Thought Police?

    Since the courts protect the Right to Free Speech for the radical Black Muslim Brotherhood as well as for the Klan and American Nazi Party, why do normal Americans have comply with the gay/lesbian agenda to change America as well as the standards being lorded on us by the Liberals No-Free Speech Police?

  40. hkbell82 says: Jul 22, 2014 10:19 PM

    Let me say it right at the top, Michael Sam deserves a chance to make an NFL roster if he is good enough. And I don’t think Dungy has something against gays. But what it does look like, the media has taken Dungy’s statement completely out of context. Cut the crap (media). Wake up everybody!

  41. karl12502 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:01 PM

    Tony dungy is a class act!! He is a great husband, father and coach. We should be thankful to have him in our community. I am proud that Tony lives in the same area that I live and get to see him out in the community. I have heard him speak in many different events and he is a kind, gentle man that more people should try to act like. More people should try to act like Tony and this country would be a better place. Thanks Tony for always being a class act!!!

  42. jfer2349 says: Jul 23, 2014 5:52 AM

    Anyone who has a problem with this just wants to start something or has no clue at all. There is nothing wrong with what Tony Dungy said. It was and is the truth. 31 other GMs said the same thing by not drafting him. Heck Tony Dungy shouldn’t have even had to clarify with a response. People just get so angry when the truth does not fit their own thoughts that they lack common sense when looking at what someone really said. People you need to relax. Pro gay rights clam they want freedoms of loving who they want, freedom for all to do and say how they feel yet you get this angry when someone says what Tony Dungy said? And what he said really was not even really about being gay. Come on!

  43. seadawgs72 says: Jul 25, 2014 2:11 AM

    It goes without saying, the NFL is a performance based industry. If Sam makes an impact in camp or in the preseason he’ll make the team & the conversation will turn to his play from gay. No one can say anything in this country without a massive overreaction from paranoid people that think there is some kind of agenda from the person that did nothing but express their opinion. Dungy is right. It’s the media that’s going to turn this into a circus not the player & certainly not the team. What other player would there be a reality show in their rookie year when there’s a good probability he won’t even make the team? I wouldn’t want that distraction for my team as a fan & i can totally understand why a coach wouldn’t. No matter what side of this a person leans toward if they could put their own petty emotions aside & consider the position a coach is in with 52 other players they should be able to understand. If not, they are unreasonable & part of the problem with this country’s over sensitivity.

  44. snyper94z28 says: Jul 25, 2014 1:14 PM

    You mean the media took something out of context and ran with it? The hell you say!

    Seeing the same thing in this dumb redskins name debacle. Stop miss quoting, stop printing opinions instead of facts, stop making stuff up to get your article printed.

    Name never was offensive, until the p.c. police said so. Not one of you reading this ever said, thought, or used the word redskin as a racist word. I’m betting none of you ever would have thought it either until you were told to…

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