There was a big bruhaha this week over comments Tony Dungy made, that he would not have drafted Michael Sam because of all of the “distractions” that would go with drafting the first openly gay player in major sports history. Sam took the high road, while Dungy attempted to clarify his remarks by saying that Sam deserves a chance to play, but that he (Dungy) would have assessed any distractions of any type before drafting any player. I’m sorry, but this is hogwash and, given Tony Dungy’s reputation, incredibly disappointing.
Dungy had no problem advocating for Michael Vick, who committed actual and willful (and awful) crimes. The fact of the matter is that Michael Sam has not caused distraction or controversy – any of that has been caused by the bigots and cowards who have a problem with his sexual orientation. I used the word willfully in describing Vick’s crimes, because it’s important to note that Vick chose to commit his crimes, while Sam simply is who he is. Perhaps Dungy thinks being gay is a choice?
The other disappointing thing is to go back and look at the history of racial integration in major professional sports and you’ll see the same crap-tastic arguments against it. “Oh, I don’t have a problem with blacks playing, just not on my team. We just wouldn’t want to deal with the distraction.” That’s the worst kind of cowardice, the kind that won’t even say it to your face. And Tony Dungy should know this. People want to give him a pass because of all of the good he’s done in the past, but I can’t be one of them. In my eyes his comments have downgraded his reputation and legacy.