I‘m going to get into trouble here. I could just keep my mouth shut but I have never run from a verbal confrontation or debate. And now is not the time for me to shrink.
Tony Dungy, as I understand, said he would not have drafted Michael Sam. Everybody in America who is alive, knows who the two individuals are, so, no need to identify.
Asked further to explain, Tony said that as a coach, he would not like the “distraction” that would result with Sam in his training camp. This explanation did not sit well with the established civil rights organizations and many sports commentators; all who pointed out that Dungy supported Michael Vick’s return to the NFL, an absolute distraction to the team he was on. Therefore, Dungy is disingenuous. I watched “First Take” on ESPN this morning and Stephen A. and Skip Bayless had a heavyweight knockout debate on whether Dungy’s point was based on Sam’s orientation.
I did not see Tony’s appearance on another sports program, where, as I understand it, he clarified his statement. He reiterated his comment and distinguished between Sam’s orientation and the distraction caused by media attention. Bythe way, there is no question as to Dungy’s forthrightness, integrity, ability as a coach, after being a steller football player and the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. So, here is a man who is well qualified to answer a “football” question and a “societal” question.
Her, I think one must make that distinction. Football is a billion dollar b-u-s-i-n-e-s-s and every coach is faced with dismissal if he is not a successful coach, leading a winning team, And every coach believes that the way to win is to have a cohesive unit that works together toward the goal of winning. Player’s minds and bodies must be into football, and football only. Understanding that, every coach wants to have the full undivided attention of his players in training camp, and any addition interference by reporters and such, in an attempt to get “the human interest” side of Sam’s life as he tries to become the first openly gay, black football player in the NFL. Regular sports reporters are a distraction most players have become accustomed to; additional reporters, looking for an angle, hoping for a slip of the tongue by an inexperienced player, are additional concerns.
So speaking as a coach, he would not want a distraction. I understand.
Now onto Michael Sam, the football player; if he is successful in his quest to be a NFLer, he will be remembered as the “first”. So his focus must be on football because he is competing against some very talented people. He has come out of the closet, that’s a fact. He has to prove his mettle. Tony Dungy has said, “He has talent, but I would rather not have the distraction.”
Sam’s sexual preference is out of the window; he has to beat out other guys. He did not do well in the “games” the evaluators play to rate a player’s talent. He is a project in many evaluators’ eyes.
Dungy supported Vick in his effort to get back on the field, so the comparisons began. “You supported Vick but you would not support Sam!” “You are disingenuous! You are not supporting Sam because he’s gay! You must walk back your comments and apologize.”
I understand what Dungy was saying and the distinction. It’s about a known quantity versus treading on new ground. Look at it this way, all those evaluators have seen Mike Vick’s skills; again, he’s a known quantity, except for the question of whether his skills eroded while he did time. Yes, there would be, and has been reporters looking for a story line but to coaches and teammates, he needed no introduction, no calls for tolerance, and his teammates needed no warning about the kind of jokes men make in a locker room or other male dominated arena. No questions about picking up dropped soap in the shower or who he dines with. The curiosity surrounding Sam is very different from the scrutiny Vick got after his first game back. Whether he makes the team or not, he is going to be a “story” for the rest of this year; for the whole football season, win or lose. Everything that will happen on and off the field will be chronicled! The whole kabosh!! How many minutes did he play? Why? Did he make a mistake? Who are his friends on the team? There will be a million of them! And if he makes the team and they don’t win???!! You know they will try to lay blame; the coach, the team, Sam??
Vick was a winner, a star; Sam’s a project, a question mark…. There’s a difference.
Dungy called this one right!
Enough said, I’m out!!!