Michael Sam Wouldn't Have Been Drafted By NFL Coach Tony Dungy, And You Can Guess Why (Ugh)
In May, the St. Louis Rams made history by drafting Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL. While this is a step forward for the league, we're only just hearing from Tony Dungy, the former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts, and it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Simply put, if Dungy were calling the shots for the Rams, he wouldn't have drafted Sam. Ugh. Dungy told the Tampa Bay Tribune that "things will happen."
"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," Dungy said. "It's not going to be totally smooth ... Things will happen."
Hmm, what kind of "things" are we talking about here, Dungy? He didn't exactly elaborate, but you can guess what he was getting at — fellow players on the Rams and opposing teams having a problem with Sam. After all, it's not like we haven't heard about conflicts arising in NFL locker rooms — does the recent Miami Dolphins hazing scandal ring a bell? — and homophobic confrontations on the field.
And, unfortunately, Dungy's comments aren't altogether surprising given his support back in 2007 for the Indiana Family Institute, a conservative group that was attempting to define marriage as a union between one woman and one man in the Indiana constitution.
When accepting a "Friend of Family" award from the group, Dungy told the audience, "I appreciate the stance they're taking, and I embrace that stance. We're not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we're trying to promote the family - family values the Lord's way. ... IFI is saying what the Lord says. You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be."
But, then again, his comment about not wanting to "deal with all of it" is still idiotic, since Dungy did throw his support behind Michael Vick back in 2010, a star quarterback just out of prison for dog-fighting. Which presumably was something of a "distraction."
If Sam makes the Rams' final roster, he may still face opposition, unfortunately. The good news? The Rams' front office says they're ready for whatever comes. T.J. Moe, a wide receiver for the team who knows Sam well from their days on the Missouri team, is behind Sam, and hopefully that will set the tone for the season.
Ultimately, it all comes down to leadership on and off the field, so that all players can perform their jobs in a safe, comfortable working environment. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he's committed to making the NFL workplace "professional" and "comfortable" for all players so "they can focus on doing their job."
Plus, since the Dolphins' hazing scandal surfaced last season, some NFL coaches have said they're committed to taking a more active role in the locker-room to set the tone for what behavior will and will not be accepted. This is also a launching pad for the NFL front office, coaches and players to focus on creating a better working environment for all NFL players.