The well-respected Tony Dungy, Super Bowl-winning former coach and NBC NFL commentator, made news earlier this week when he said he would not have drafted Michael Sam, the first openly-gay player ever to be drafted into the league.
Dungy said he would not have wanted to deal with the distractions such a designation would bring even though he believed Sam deserved a chance to make a team. No word on whether Dungy would have signed Jackie Robinson or any other apple-cart upsetting pioneer if he was in charge of making the decision.
What’s interesting is that Dungy advocated hard for Michael Vick, the player who went to prison for financing a dog-fighting ring. Vick’s return to the league was met with a lot of animosity, protests and calls for boycotts – distractions – yet it didn’t seem to bother Dungy in the way Sam’s supposed distractions would. Could it be that Dungy was just finding another way to express his well-known disapproval of homosexuality without wanting to say so explicitly?
It’s funny how Sam, a former defensive player of the year in the toughest college football conference in all the land, causes this much angst for principled men who don’t express nearly the same hesitation when it comes to players doing awful things like, um, knocking out their wives, dragging them out of an elevator and receiving a two-game, slap-on-the-wrist suspension for his troubles.
Sam does nothing but declare who he really is in an attempt to be accepted in all of his complex humanity and becomes a “distraction” Dungy would have passed on.
I wonder what Dungy would have done with Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who attacked his wife. Would Dungy had been willing to take on the distractions bought by a player who beats women? The rest of the league seems to be OK with it.
Maybe if Sam was a woman-beater he would come across as more manly in such a manly league, where being gay makes you more of a suspect than committing violent crime.