Former NFL coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy told the Tampa Tribune that he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam because he “wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
Sam became the first openly gay active NFL player when he was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams in May.
Dungy told the Tampa Tribune:
“I wouldn’t have taken him. 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.”
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
The implication is that Dungy thinks Sam, and the media attention he’d draw, would be a distraction.
This stance contradicts Dungy’s vocal support for Michael Vick playing in the NFL again after leaving prison in 2009. As a condition of Vick’s reinstatement into the NFL, Dungy agreed to become his mentor.
In August of 2009, Dungy said he would sign Vick in an interview with NPR, telling the radio network, “I would take a chance on him.”
“But Dungy, a former Super Bowl winner, knows that many NFL teams will have reservations about adding Vick to their rosters. ‘I would be hesitant, too,’ Dungy said, ‘because it’s going to bring a major distraction to your organisation and you are going to have some people who won’t forgive.’
“‘So it’s going to take a strong team who says, “You know what, we believe in this; we believe in second chances. We’re going to try to help this young man, and we may lose a few fans.”
“‘… I think he’s learned from this. So if I were there, I would. I would take a chance on him.‘”
Dungy also wrote a blog post saying Vick deserved a chance to play again at the time, despite the public backlash against him:
“I think Michael deserves the chance to show people he has changed and learned from past mistakes, but my true hope is that he will make sound decisions about his future and, at the same time, let people know more about the person that I’ve come to know recently. I know the public will be sceptical, but I think, over time, people will find there’s a different side to him than what they have seen so far. And that’s really my goal, to help him let people see the other side of Michael Vick.”
If Sam’s sexual orientation qualifies as a distraction, so too would Vick’s conviction.
When Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in August of 2009, it was met with protests from animal advocates. It wasn’t “totally smooth,” yet Dungy was 100% behind the signing. He even sat next to Vick at his introductory press conference in Philadelphia.
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