Fmr. head coach Tony Dungy clarifies Michael Sam draft comments - Tucson News Now

Fmr. head coach Tony Dungy clarifies Michael Sam draft comments

Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy is clarifying comments he made on NFL Draft choices, and the comments were directed at St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam. (Source: NFL/Marcus Qwertyus/Wikimedia/MGN Online) Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy is clarifying comments he made on NFL Draft choices, and the comments were directed at St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam. (Source: NFL/Marcus Qwertyus/Wikimedia/MGN Online)
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(RNN) – Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy is clarifying comments he made on NFL Draft choices, and the comments he directed at St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam.

During an interview published in the Tampa Tribune on Sunday, the NBC football analyst said that the draft-day decision made by the St. Louis Rams wouldn’t have been one he made.

“I wouldn’t have drafted him,” Dungy said. “Not because I don’t believe in 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 entire Tribune article, entitled “NFL holding players to higher standard,” centered on the NFL creating a more positive workplace environment in light of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal in 2013.

In February 2014, near the NFL Rookie Combine, Dungy said the “the NFL has always been based on merit” and Sam should get the opportunity to play in the NFL, regardless of his sexuality.

In an attempt to clarify his comments on Tuesday, Dungy said he was giving an “honest answer,” and said the article’s author, Ira Kaufman, didn’t ask the proper follow-up question to his response. His response also read more like his previous comments on Sam.

“I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not,” the statement said.

“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization,” the statement continues. “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.”

Dungy, whose deep, religious convictions have been a part of his public persona, accepted a “Friend of Family” award in 2007 by a conservative anti-gay marriage group in Indiana, and spoke in favor of an Indiana state gay marriage ban proposal. He's also written a book with his wife, Lauren, on traditional marriage called Uncommon Marriage.

The former Tampa Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach said he made the comments at the time Sam was planning to a documentary series with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. The docu-series, which was set to follow Sam around the Rams training camp, has since been scrapped.

Dungy was the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl in 2007 with the Colts. He was also a major proponent of welcoming quarterback Michael Vick back to the NFL, serving as a mentor to Vick after he served an 18-month federal prison term for his part in a dog-fighting ring.

Sam, the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, was taken with the 249th pick in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sam was also recently awarded with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16.

The NFL rookie is participating at the St. Louis Rams training camp; rookies reported to camp on Tuesday. Veterans report to camp on Thursday. 

Sam responded to the comments when asked by ESPN St. Louis Rams beat writer Nick Wagoner, and he tweeted Sam's response.

In the second tweet, Sam said, "And like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."

Follow me on Twitter @TanitaG_RNN.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • News 13 Poll

  • What do you think of Tony Dungy's opinions on Michael Sam and his draft analysis?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    He's right - everyone is entitled to their opinion.
    83%
    121 votes
    He's wrong - Sam's sexuality does not matter, and the only opinion that matters is the team who drafted him.
    17%
    25 votes
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