Tony Dungy was the man who mentored Michael Vick after his release from prison on dog fighting charges, helping the quarterback get his life and career back on track.
So many were surprised when the former Indianapolis Colts coach said he would not have drafted Michael Sam, the league’s first openly gay player, because of the “distractions” it may have created.
“I wouldn’t want to deal with all of (the distractions). It’s not going to be totally smooth… things will happen,” Dungy told the Tampa Tribune.
The Orlando Sentinel’s George Diaz said that the statement had more than a hint of homophobia:
“Please explain the logic, Tony Dungy. The man who said he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam because he is a distraction is the same man who stood in Michael Vick’s corner when a large number of poochie-lovers were putting together a lynch mob to extract revenge on Vick.
“Vick’s crime was dog fighting. Those who didn’t make the cut were shot, beaten and electrocuted. Three dogs were hanged, according to a report by the USDA inspector general…. Three more dogs drowned after Vick’s crew put their heads in a five gallon bucket of water.
“Sam’s crime? He kissed a guy. On national TV, the day he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.”
Jason Whitlock also said that Tony Dungy is dead wrong about Michael Sam, and that Dungy’s own intolerance made him no better than the people who denied Michael Vick a second chance.
“Some part of Dungy’s reluctance to fully support Sam, I believe, is based on Dungy’s religious intolerance of homosexuality. It’s fruit of the same poisonous superiority tree that justifies intolerance and degradation of ex-cons. Dungy’s courage to lead, do the right thing and combat ‘controversies’ ends at homosexuality. Is he OK if yours ends at dogfighting or marijuana possession?”
For his part, Tony Dungy has walked back his comments a bit, saying he wasn’t referring to Sam’s sexual orientation but instead the media that came along with it, which included a reality television show (which Sam has since backed out of). Dungy also compared Sam to Jonathan Martin, the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman who left the team last year amid reports of bullying from other players.