With Tony Dungy explaining that he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam because of the distractions that go along with having him on the team, the coach who drafted Sam has addressed whether and to what extent Sam has been a distraction.
“Absolutely not,” Jeff Fisher told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning on Wednesday. “Let’s define distraction. There were a couple of extra cameras during early OTAs. There may have been an extra camera yesterday as rookies reported and went on the field the first time. Mike’s a very passionate athlete. He’s very focused on trying to make this football team. . . . He worked really hard during the summer, and he’s doing a good job.”
Fisher, who said that there will be no limits placed on Sam’s media availability during training camp, nevertheless has no issue with Dungy’s view on the matter.
“I’m gonna assume some that maybe things were taken out of context,” Fisher said. “But everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. Coaches are going to have differences of opinion during the draft. . . . I’m not concerned. Tony’s entitled to his opinion as everybody is and so are and right now we think we have a pretty good thing going.”
The Rams may have such a good thing going that Sam won’t be good enough to make the roster. Fisher has said in the past that cutting Sam would be as normal a part of the broader process as drafting him. Fisher hinted during Wednesday’s interview that, even as Sam improves as a player, he ultimately may not be regarded as being good enough.
“Unfortunately, one part of this business is releasing players and upgrading the roster and so on and so forth,” Fisher said. “We let three players go yesterday who really have only been here for probably a month. They’re better football players than when we signed them, and that’s where Mike is right now. He’s a better football player because he’s committed himself to making this football team.”
Even with no distractions to date, scrutiny will arise if Fisher ultimately cuts Sam — especially with all those Rams jerseys bearing his name already being purchased. And that’s surely one of the distractions Dungy would have been concerned about, even if his initial comments on the matter were omitted from Ira Kaufman’s article in the Tampa Tribune or if Kaufman opted not to ask the follow-up questions that would have drawn a more complete explanation from Dungy.
Dungy will be able to give a more complete explanation soon. He’s scheduled to join The Dan Patrick Show in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour.