Dungy discusses his Michael Sam comments

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On Monday, the Tampa Tribune published 38 words from Tony Dungy regarding whether he’d draft Michael Sam.  On Tuesday, Dungy issued a statement clarifying his thoughts on the issue.

On Wednesday, Dungy talked at length about the situation on The Dan Patrick Show.

Dungy reiterated, as explained in his statement, that the comments were made in the aftermath of the draft, when it became known for the first time that Sam was planning to turn his experiences into a TV series.

“I think the actual first quotes were from an interview with a gentlemen at the Tampa Tribune right after the draft,” Dungy said.  “We were talking about draft and distractions and it was when the Oprah Winfrey show was talking about doing a reality show on Michael Sam and that’s when the discussion came out about distractions as related to draft choices. . . .  We were talking about the show, and I think that was something people didn’t anticipate.  And those things were going to happen and are going to happen, and that’s what I was discussing and what we’re talking about.”

Dungy compared the Sam situation to the controversy surrounding former Dolphins (current 49ers) tackle Jonathan Martin, who quit the team after being bullied.  Both bring a distraction of some type to an NFL locker room.  The question is whether either are good enough from a talent standpoint to overcome those non-football issues.

“I talked to some General Managers,” Dungy said regarding work that was done during the 2013 football season, “and they said that Jonathan definitely has the talent to play in the league, but would they want the distraction of everybody’s following the story, and people asking their players over and over, ‘How are things are going?’, ‘What’s going on with Jonathan?’, ‘Who’s saying what to him?’  And because of the fact that they didn’t view him as a difference maker, they probably wouldn’t want the distractions.  And I guess that’s my point in the whole thing.  If we substitute Jonathan Martin for Michael Sam and have the same quotes and the same comments, nobody’s gonna replay those quotes two months and three months later, and try to say that there’s any more to it than what was actually said.”

Dan asked Dungy about his position on the distractions created by Sam and the distractions created by signing Mike Vick after he spent time in prison for dogfighting, a common comparison that has been made in the aftermath of Dungy’s remarks.

“People have to make their own decisions, and a lot of people made decisions that they didn’t want to accept that,” Dungy said regarding Vick.  “And if Philadelphia said that same thing to Michael, I don’t think he could be mad, I couldn’t be mad.  That’s a decision that they make for their team, and I’m sure they had discussions about it.  And that was my only point, that those things are discussed.  And people asked my personal opinion, and I gave the gentleman my opinion.  But it wasn’t anything to attack Michael Sam or it wasn’t to come out the day before they report to camp and say he shouldn’t be there.  I don’t believe that at all.  I do believe he should be there, and I’m glad he is.”

Dungy said he was caught off guard by the timing of the publication of his past comments.

“I was very surprised, because as I say I’ve been out here in Oregon six or seven weeks and haven’t heard anything about it and hadn’t talked to anybody in the media in two months, so I was shocked when I read Mike Florio’s [website] and that was the headline, ‘Tony Dungy wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam.’  And I know a lot of people are trying to make this about my Christian faith, and that’s not something I’m going to back down from ever.  And I do have my Christian beliefs.

“But I think people should recognize that when you go into coaching, you have a responsibility to deliver a good football team to your owner, so you’re going to do everything you can to do that.  So I would not, and I’ve said that many times and been on record when asked about Michael Sam specifically.  No, I wouldn’t have a problem coaching him and I would not have a problem [with] him being on the team, and you make those decisions based on what people bring to the table athletically, and what they can do to make your team better.”

Dan asked about whether Dungy’s Christian beliefs come into play.

“I think it always does,” Dungy said.  “And I think that’s part of walking as a Christian, and I accept that part of it.  People are always going to have their views, I don’t expect everybody to agree with me.  But I don’t think people should expect me to back down on my views about faith.  But again, this was not a discussion about that.  This was a discussion about a particular situation at a particular time and a particular player.  And I think for people to take it into, ‘Well, this means he hates this group of people’ or ‘He wouldn’t do this,’ those are things I’ve been reading in the past day that really surprised me.”

Dungy takes issue with the idea that his position on Sam arises from Dungy’s views on homosexuality or gay marriage, as advanced by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star.

“Gay marriage and who should be on a football team have nothing to do with each other,” Dungy said.  “Bob Kravitz . . . knows the type of locker room that we had, the type of players.  Not everybody on that team was a Christian, not everybody believed the same things I did.  Not everybody had the same political views.  And that’s fine.  That’s good.  That’s what a football locker room is all about.  But to equate this to gay marriage to me is really silly.”

Dan also asked Dungy whether he plans to reach out to Sam.

“I hadn’t thought about it, but I think it might be a good idea I’ve love to do that, and hopefully I get the chance,” Dungy said.  “I would want to wish him the best and let him know I have no bitterness or animosity toward him.  Even though I don’t agree with his lifestyle, I love him.  And I wish him the best, and I’d love to say that to him.”

Chances are that discussion will happen sooner than later.  Whenever it occurs, the debate regarding what Dungy said and what he meant will linger, with some being fair about the assessment of Dungy’s words and some being unfair about it.  Which is pretty much how it works on any subject that is even remotely controversial.

76 responses to “Dungy discusses his Michael Sam comments

  1. Tony Dungy is a class act all the way. He holds no ill will against anyone. Man of God. Man of Moral Integrity. Man of the people. Tony Dungy everyone

  2. Michael Sam is getting too much attention for a low round draft pick that might not even make the roster, personally this “coming out” stuff isn’t necessary, if your sexual orientation is such, then so be it, you don’t have to advertise it…

  3. The more Dungy talks, the more guilty he comes off as. Too bad he’s a total fake and won’t stick by his beliefs just to keep being viewed as a good guy or whatever. Damn Shame. No more respect for Tony Dungy from me.

  4. He can back peddle all he wants…fact of the matter is he forgot where he came from and wouldn’t have drafted Sam.

  5. Is the media circus and constant scrutiny your team is going to need to deal with worth the talent you get in Michael Sam?
    Tony dungy: no
    Anyone who says Dungy should take a stand and support this needs to realize this is business where people’s ability to feed their families depend on these moves. Go take a stand yourself instead of criticizing others

  6. What a distraction from the sport itself.

    How about the media just backs off, and we see If the kid can play

  7. Dungy was asked and he answered. Done deal. No stories need to be written. Fact is he is not a coach anymore nor was he faced with the decision. Many coach’s did not pick Sam because he is not that good. Some didn’t want the extra cameras that come along with it. Some didn’t have a need at that position. Whatever the choice nobody needs to be ran through the media gauntlet because of it.

  8. Dungy made a comment that he wouldn’t want the distraction of the first openly gay player if he were still a HC. And guess what? Michael Sam is definitely a media distraction. I don’t care what Jeff Fisher says publicly but it’s a reality.

    Bottom line–Is Michael Sam good enough to make the Rams? I have no idea but I guarantee you that Goodell would love to see him make the team. Perhaps we’ll see a case of reverse discrimination against a player who is not openly gay but a better football player.

  9. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a big deal if he just came out one day when he kissed his boyfriend after practice……………right. I agree it shouldn’t be a big deal but, he had to let people know so it was out in the open. Now let’s play ball!

  10. doubleogator says: Jul 23, 2014 11:03 AM

    Michael Sam is getting too much attention for a low round draft pick that might not even make the roster, personally this “coming out” stuff isn’t necessary, if your sexual orientation is such, then so be it, you don’t have to advertise it…


    This is what people don’t get. Coming out is hugely important ~ until as a society we don’t judge or persecute people because they have a different sexual orientation to what society considers normal. STAND UP and CHANGE THE HATE

  11. And as for Jonathan Martin…Oh boy. This guy is an absolute joke as a football player. You RARELY see players in the NFL as soft as him & the scariest part is is that he’s an O-lineman!!! Probably the worst LT in football.

  12. I support gay rights, but too much is being made of this. I agree with Dungy that any high-profile signing attracts unwanted attention. It is an automatic red-flag. That’s why no one wants to touch Tebow now. That’s the sacrifice Sam is making. Hopefully future gay players won’t have to undergo such scrutiny.

  13. Dan also asked Dungy whether he plans to reach out to Sam.

    “I hadn’t thought about it, but I think it might be a good idea I’ve love to do that, and hopefully I get the chance,” Dungy said

    You ALWAYS have a chance to reach out to someone, Mr. Dungy. You don’t need a “chance” to do this in your position. You just do it.

    Tony’s faith is putting him in a tough position With Sam being a known gay player, this puts Dungy in a quandary. Jesus was all about live and let live, and not judging others, but today’s Christianity is all about judging others.

  14. good for you Tony. I gained more respect for you for not backing down or apologizing, because nothing you said was wrong.

    How could having an Oprah reality show for an openly gay 7th round rookie not be a distraction?


  15. ghost26,

    Keep an eye on Ethan Westbrooks. He fits their system better, is a better athlete, and better player. He is competing with Sam for the final roster spot.

    Interesting note here, that if Westbrooks didn’t have the off field issues he would have been drafted higher than Eugene Sims, former WTAMU player as well and 6th round pick who is a definite to make the roster.

    If Sam makes the team over Westbrooks, unless he outplays him on the field in the preseason, then we know something fishy is going on. I believe Westbrooks is the better player and rumors are that the Rams believe it as well. It will be interesting to see what happens here.

    I wish Sam the best and want him to make the roster, ONLY if he earns it and his talent is the ONLY reason why he makes it.

  16. Jackie Robinson was a distraction to the Dodgers in 47. I guess our good coach thinks Branch Ricky made a mistake too. Look I know Sam is no 42 and maybe it would have been better if the first openly gay player was a first rounder, but the coach’s comments leave a bad tast in my mouth.

  17. dungy must be sent to reeducation camp… er sensitivity training before he is allowed to have anything to do with football just like anyone else who dares offer a non pc opinion on anything the pc police decide is the only view to have.

  18. Dungy is, and has always been..PHONY.

    Comes across to public as holier than thou….yet, watch your back…especially as a coach against teams and coaches better than he was.

    Watch your back w/Dungy…and that includes Mr Model for family life…beautiful to the world, a mess behind closed doors

  19. The issue I see is he is saying the SEC Defensive player of the year can’t play, but he states that Tebow can play. Tebow can’t play he hasn’t been in the league for years and Tebow is a massive distraction.

  20. A true Christian (Like Tony Dungy) knows that his faith teaches him to hate the sin, love the sinner.

    Whether Tony personally agrees with Sam’s lifestyle is irrelevant. The comments he made were not about Sam’s preference, but about the amount of drama accompanying a late draft choice.

    Remember, Tim Tebow is not out of the league due to a lack of talent. Tim is out of the league due to the distractions he brings with him in comparison to the value many feel he has. So judgments like this are made about players all of the time.

    At the end of the day, if Sam plays well – and better then his competition – he makes the team. If he isn’t as good as his competition – he goes home. As it should be.

  21. Amazing how freedom of speech has been trumped by political correctness, which is nothing more than shutting up those that don’t tow the line.

  22. Love those Christians who judge other for what they do in their personal life. Always teaching acceptance except for when it’s something they don’t believe in. My Uncle is the same way. Holier than thou. I’m sure when Dungy were younger, he was all for rights for African-Americans. But now he can’t accept that someone is gay and sees it as a distraction. Hypocrite. Wonder what he would have said back then when a professional sports team wouldn’t accept a black man because of the “distraction” that would have come along with it because of media and such. Hmmm

  23. I’m pro gay people having the ability to just be people and have the same rights as anyone else.
    I am not a fan of thought police and though I disagree with Dungy, I have no beef with his having a different opinion. But being gay isn’t a “lifestyle” IMO. It’s just like having blue eyes or freckles.

    There is however an interesting contrast. Since Dungy has expressed publicly his opinion on gay people’s “lifestyle” while he was an NFL head coach while having no repercussions from the NFL, why can’t that player (name escapes me) on the Dolphins who tweeted “OMG horrible” express his without repercussions? It’s basically the same opinion (disagrees with expressing that one is gay) just different words.

  24. Well, it looks like Dungy has proved his point. Look at all the attention after one small comment. Ha ha, the media knows it and just lets everybody eat it up.

  25. Tony spoke about what he believed is the case in the NFL from his perspective. Nothing earth shattering. I guess the self appointed tolerant ones don’t believe anyone should say or even think something that they don’t approve of. For them tolerance is only practiced as long as you believe and speak like they do.

  26. For those of you criticizing Dungy – do you think that Sam’s abilities, relative to the abilities of the other players they could have drafted/signed instead of him, will make it worthwhile FROM A FOOTBALL PERSPECTIVE?

    Seems that all of you are ignoring that that is the point Dungy was making.

  27. Why haven’t any of the reporters gotten to the heart of the matter, and come right out and asked Dungy just how high a draft pick would Sam have needed to be in order for Dungy to draft him? You can bet your @ss that if Sam had been an overall no. 1 draft pick that Dungy would have drafted him regardless of his sexual orientation. Bigotry is bigotry whether it is passive or not.

  28. So I guess we have to live in a world where we all have the same opinions about everything. I don’t see a problem with anything that Tony Dungy said. Let’s be real there are players that are definitely uncomfortable having a gay teammate in the locker room, it doesn’t matter if this is right or wrong because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and biases. The way Dungy is getting killed in social media and TV is exactly why we can’t have a honest conversation about race, gay issues, or anything else. People please stop being so damn sensitive about everything that you don’t agree with. It’s his opinion, please get the hell over with it.

  29. awm7353 says:
    Jul 23, 2014 12:02 PM
    “Amazing how freedom of speech has been trumped by political correctness, which is nothing more than shutting up those that don’t tow the line.”

    First off Freedom of Speech is a government protection that makes it so the government can’t punish you for expressing your beliefs, BUT even if we want to look at it your way. Dungy is free to say what he wants… then do I also have freedom of speech to say I disagree with him. I think he’s a holier than thou hypocrite. He supported Vick. He supported Tebow, both of which are MUCH bigger distractions than this 7th round draft pick. Dungy traded for a player who wrote a book called “Just give me the damn ball” in Keyshawn, was a huge distraction at the time. Later Marvin Harrison, his almost Hall of Fame receiver being investigated for murder is also a bigger distraction than a 7th round borderline player. He’s actively fund raised against gay marriage. Again, that’s his right. Its also my right right to call him a phony.

  30. Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

    -Rick Warren

  31. For those of you using Branch Rickey to slight Coach Dungy please understand one thing.

    YES Mr. Rickey was brave and couragous to bring Jackie Robinson to his team but, he also knew #42 would be the best player on the field the moment he walked on the diamond. Mr. Rickey’s words,”I wouldn’t have never risked so much for just anyone.” He new that people would come to see Jackie because he was black and because he was the best ball player in the game!

    It was risk reward. Mr. Rickey new that Robinson would be a HUGE distraction that would be great for the game, great for society, and great for his pocket book.

  32. Tony Dungy has the right to believe whatever he wants, let’s get that out of the way from the get go.

    I think the issue that most people are missing is that his initial quote had nothing to do with Michael Sam’s talent level. It had to do with who he is as a person, and that the person he is will bring a distraction to the team. If you go back and read the quotes, even the “clarification” yesterday, not once does the issue of Sam’s talent, or lack thereof, come up.

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

    The media takes stories like this all the time and shoves them down people’s throats. This quote coming from someone who vouched for Vick, said he would draft Manziel despite the distraction he would bring, and had Marvin Harrison on his team when he was being investigated for murder. It’s the responsibility of the coaching staff to make sure the players aren’t distracted by it, no matter what the issue may be. If everyone was to shy away from the “distraction” who knows if he would have been in a position to be the first black coach to win a Super Bowl.

    Everyone understands the NFL is a business, and the goal is to field the best team possible. Nobody (outside of the PC police) would have had an issue if he said “I wouldn’t have drafted him because I don’t think he has the talent needed to succeed in the NFL.” But that’s not what he said, and now he’s feeding the so called distraction he claims he would want to avoid.

  33. Dungy cited the distraction. This week has reinforced sure enough, lots of distraction. Is that Sam’s fault? Nope. It’s the media, who will make a tempest in a teapot.

  34. 32 Teams in The NFL. 32 Head Coaches in The NFL. 32 GM ‘s in The NFL. EVERYBODY passed on Him w/ the exception of 1. Apparently Tony Dungy wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Difference He SAID IT. They SHOWED IT. Moral of the STORY! ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS!

  35. Michael Sam’s sexual orientation is a marketable commodity, and it is being used by Sam and other marketers to their advantage.

    Tony Dungy’s media persona is “old school” ex-coach who won a Super Bowl.

    These two world were bound to clash in the voracious 24-hour media world.

    Two things I’m glad to see here

    – it’s being talked about
    -Jeff Fisher coaches Sam

  36. It is a crying shame that in a country like the US, the bastion of freedom, of freedom of speech – a man has to explain over and over again why he said something that he said. Do you proponents of this microscopic approach to filtering each person’s every word even realize what you are doing? Do you care?

  37. please stick your honest feelings Tony..

    I too do not approve of gay lifestyle.. and I do not think it is normal or something to be presented as an option

    however, (and I have been a long time sales hiring manager) I have NEVER not hired the best or acted in a discriminatory way….

    if Sam can play, he should play.. period… but it is wrong for some to give others grief for not condoning the lifestyle

    and I do believe Sam has attempted to bring the gay issue front and center.. right from the draft where he hissed his partner (which I feel is sick and disgusting)

    but discrimination is wrong and should not be tolerated

    and my views and feelings are not at odds

  38. No one even cared about Michael Sam until Sam came out as gay. He brought this publicity upon himself to help boost his draft stock. And he was still only drafted in the 7th round.

  39. If Sam doesn’t make the team do the Rams get taken to task for cutting him or do they get praise drafting him in the first place.

    That’s the question

  40. boy I hope I never have an unpopular or non PC opinion. If only I lived in a country where people could speak their mind and have dissenting opinions. Oh wait……………………

  41. The bottom line is that the greater the talent the more a team will tolerate in terms of distractions – viz T.O. and Ocho Cinco at their peak – when they declined to the point where they could be replaced by comparable talent that didn’t bring the side show ….sayonara …. If Sam can produce results comparable to what he did at Mizzou – lets get back to football please

  42. The liberal media and the “Protect everyone’s precious feelings” crew are now finding any small angle to attack Dungy. How pathetic of a life it must be to constantly seek out the tiniest things people say and attack like blood thirsty piranas when they see a chance to push their agenda.

    Oh and to all of the geniuses on here making the Michael Vick comparisons… Dungy didn’t draft him either.

    To those making Jackie Robinson comparisons… Please stop. This is nothing like that.

  43. Question to everyone who’s attacking Dungy…

    Are you going to start hurling insults at Jeff Fisher and crying bigotry and discrimination when he cuts Sam?

  44. 31 current working coaches in the NFL passed on Michael Sam. Has even one of them been asked why he didn’t draft Sam?

  45. @bengalsucker – BSucker

    People of all faiths have Hypocrites, yet I don’t see where Dungy is being hypocritical. He wasn’t judging Sam’s lifestyle even though he doesn’t agree with it. He was stating that he wouldn’t have drafted Sam with all of the distractions that it would bring.
    Also this was stated two months ago, not two days ago.
    Michael Sam must have felt that it would be a distraction also since he has opted not to go through with the reality show.

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