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Tony Dungy on Michael Sam: 'Football Should be About Merit, Not Sexual Orientation'

( [email protected] ) Jul 22, 2014 03:30 PM EDT
Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy released Tuesday a statement, clarifying a quote on how he "wouldn't have taken" NFL's first openly gay player Michael Sam if he were a head coach, because he "wouldn't want to deal" with the perceived distractions that are bound to happen.
Jason Bridge/US Presswire

Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy released Tuesday a statement, clarifying a quote on how he "wouldn't have taken" NFL's first openly gay player Michael Sam if he were a head coach, because he "wouldn't want to deal" with the perceived distractions that are bound to happen. 

While Dungy believes Sam should still have a chance to play, his comments were met with opposition from pro-gay activists and liberal media. Tyler Lopez from Slate.com called the comments by first black Super Bowl coach "unreasonable" and "blatantly homophobic," and related them to why Obama had to issue the executive order banning anti-gay employee discrimination in federal government.

However, not all believe that the pro-gay agenda can be compared to the Civil Rights Movement. In a rally held in Detroit earlier this year, over 100 black pastors in Detroit gathered to voice their indignity, protesting a Detroit judge's overruling of a 2004 voter approved amendment to the Michigan constitution that defines marriages as between one man and one woman.

Pastor James Crowder of St. Galilee Baptist Church and President of Westside Minister's Alliance in Detroit said that comparing the LGBT agenda to the Civil Rights Movement is offensive.

"On stage are many actors who pretend that redefining traditional marriage is as valid as Blacks fighting against the carnage of chattel slavery and the humiliation of Jim Crow. Never have I been so insulted. The curtain must be pulled down on this play of disinformation." 

Dungy, an evangelical Christian and 'Quiet Strength' author and other best-selling books, was recently hired by the Miami Dolphins to help deal with the aftermath of Richi Incognito scandal and has been praised by Time Magazine as the "moral conscience of football."

In response to quotes that appeared in the Tribune, Dungy has released a statement on NBCsports.com, clarifying the intent of his comments and providing further insights on his philosophy on how playing in the NFL should about "merit" and not "sexual orientation":

 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."