Tony Dungy Needs to Deal With it

Published: Jul 23, 2014 11:56am EDT
By shaunmerritt, Entertainment/Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Jul 23, 2014 @ 11:56am EDT


It is not secret I support gay rights. I have no issue with those who love someone of their own sex and want to live a happily married life with their partner. A good portion of this country does not agree with me and despite our disagreements on the issue, that’s fine. People have the right to feel they way they feel, but there is a difference between believing something and practicing discrimination. Whether it is their religious beliefs, race, or gender; people think that they should be allowed to hold others back simply because how the feel. This is what makes Tony Dungy’s remarks so upsetting. It’s not that he doesn’t have a right to think the way he thinks, it’s that he sees absolutely nothing wrong with using those beliefs to discriminate against others. While Dungy may not agree with Michael Sam's lifestyle choices, he simply needs to deal with it. 

"I wouldn't have taken him,'' Dungy told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “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.” He wouldn’t want to deal with all of it? I am not saying that Tony Dungy is homophobic, but it is really hard to understand what he means by that statement. This is the same man who visited Michael Vick in prison and helped him get reinstated by the NFL. Vick, the very same player who was sent to federal prison, caused a national uproar among players and fans alike, caused protests all across NFL stadiums…. and Michael Sam's homosexuality is too much for Dungy to deal with? I do not believe that one bit. 

Dungy tried to clarify his remarks by saying, “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.” Excuse me? I would like someone to give one example of how Sam has been a distraction in anyway. Has anyone even heard anything negative from St. Louis since the draft? Both the organization and the players have said that Sam’s sexual orientation has not been an issue, so why should it be for anyone else? It really appears that the only people who are distracted by Michael Sam are the people who have a problem with Sam’s sexual preference.

It is easy to rip Dungy on his hypocrisy for not waiting to draft a different kind of player. There was a time not too long ago when Dungy, an African-American, would not have been welcome to play on any team, little lone be able to coach one, or even be welcome on a national broadcast involving the league. What is hard to understand are the reasons why he wouldn’t draft Sam. The NFL has players who have killed other people, arrested and convicted for drug and alcohol abuse, raped women, and involved in all manors of violence including guns and assault. Some of those players have played for Tony Dungy. Some of those players were drafted by Tony Dungy. None of those players were a distraction, why would Michael Sam?

What is clear about Dungy’s statements and his attempts to clarifying them is that he isn’t being honest. If he came out (no pun intended) and said, “I do not want a gay player on my team,” I would have been okay with it. I would have still said he was being a hypocrite, but I would have at least respected his honesty. However, he isn’t being honest. He is trying to cover up his bigotry, by trying to say that he wasn't asked the right questions. He said, "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.” This is the same man who raised money for anti-gay causes and said about openly gay NBA player Jason Collin, “I don't agree with Jason Collins' lifestyle but think he deserves respect and should have opportunities like anyone else!” So Collins and Sam should have every opportunity to play, just not on any of Dungy’s teams.

Fact is that there has been no media distraction. There has been no public uproar, no threats of mass boycotts, and no backlash from Rams’ players. The only major distraction has been the product of the comments made by Tony Dungy. Between Johnny Manziel and the Washington R*dskins’ team name debate, Michael Sam’s sexual orientation has been so far forgotten in the NFL that it is now what it should have been all along... a non-issue. Dungy finished off his clarifying remarks saying, “My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation." Tony Dungy needs to realize that teams and fans alike have been doing just that, its people like Tony Dungy that refuse to let it go. Its people like Tony Dungy, that need to" deal with it."




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