Tony Dungy Has A Point About Michael Sam, But He’s Still Wrong

On SI Now, former Viking Chris Kluwe discusses two-time Super Bowl Champion coach Tony Dungy’s comment that he would not want to deal with the distraction of Michael Sam in the locker room.


Tony Dungy is one of the best mentors the game of football has ever had. But after all of the good the former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach has done, he finally overstepped his boundaries.

Dungy told the Tampa Tribune he would not have drafted Michael Sam, who of course is the NFL’s first openly gay player. Dungy said it wouldn’t have been because of Sam’s sexual orientation, but because of the cameras and media attention that comes with this move.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “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.

“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’

Let’s be honest. Dungy is 100 percent right in that regard. There’s going to be even more media surrounding the St. Louis Rams this offseason as Sam tries to crack the 53-man roster. Sam is on the verge of making history once he does make the team, and there will cameras documenting every single day of his camp throughout the process.

It’s certainly an unwelcome distraction. But that’s what comes with today’s NFL — tons of attention for every single issue or potential controversy.

Ask the Dallas Cowboys what it was like when Tony Romo was caught beaching it with his celebrity girlfriends. Ask the New York Jets what it was like when the team brought Tim Tebow in to back up Mark Sanchez. Ask the Philadelphia Eagles what it was like to bring Michael Vick into the fold after he was imprisoned for running a dog-fighting ring.

And on that last note, wasn’t it Dungy’s idea to recommend to Andy Reid and the Eagles organization to give Vick that second chance? Wasn’t it Dungy, then the coach of the Colts, who looked past Marvin Harrison‘s potential arrest for shooting another man?

Those were major crimes that warranted intense coverage and scrutiny, but Dungy sided with the players in both issues suggesting they deserve to continue playing in the NFL.

Sam has not committed any crime, nor did he do anything wrong. Instead, he’s a hero for millions of young men and women who fear coming out for fear they won’t be accepted. Sam came out before the biggest job interview of his entire life and has now embraced it, showing everybody it’s okay to be who you are. And because of the ground-breaking moves he continues to make, cameras want to follow him.

They should follow him.

For the Rams, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, they knew this would happen when they decided to spend their seventh-round pick on him in May. If you think they didn’t expect the attention from the media, then you’re wrong.

The thing about it is the media paying attention to Sam’s journey is a lot better than reporters and media personnel focusing on Sam Bradford in a make-or-break type of season. It takes attention away from whether Tavon Austin can emerge into an NFL superstar. It takes attention away from the offseason issues that have plagued Kenny Britt, who is still trying to revive his professional career.

So Dungy inviting media to cover Vick’s return to the NFL in Philadelphia and allowing Harrison to play despite being accused of murder shows the compassionate side of Dungy, who has mentored a number of athletes during his time. I can’t fathom why all of a sudden he would say media coverage is now a bad thing for a rising star in Sam who, whether he makes the Rams roster or not — (and I’m betting a lot that he does) — he’s showing that anybody can fit into an NFL locker room.

Sam’s journey should already be considered a success, and any more attention he receives will only help him change more lives. Dungy has done a lot of good for the NFL and a lot of his players, but in this case, he was better off just biting his tongue.

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