Tony Dungy Takes Heat, Says He's No Homophobe

Former NFL coach clarifies his Michael Sam comments

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 22, 2014 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Tony Dungy says he's not prejudiced, despite his comment a couple days ago that he wouldn't have drafted openly gay player Michael Sam, TMZ reports. "I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team," Dungy said in a statement. He added that Sam deserves a chance to play, and Dungy would coach him, but said that "the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction." A few reactions to Dungy's initial comments:

  • "Given Dungy's religious nature, his Indiana Family Institute affiliation and his expressed opposition to gay marriage, I wouldn't expect Dungy to open the door too widely to a gay athlete," writes Bob Kravitz at the Indianapolis Star. "It is, however, disappointing."
  • Slate dug up a tweet Dungy posted about President Obama's support for marriage equality: "What is your take on the President's stance on gay marriage? I was disappointed he veered from biblical view."
  • At Yahoo, Dan Wetzel argues that Dungy may be forgetting how blacks overcame prejudices to play pro ball, or how Dungy advocated for Michael Vick's return after Vick served time on dog-fighting charges. Now, Dungy's "thinking is devoid of courage—in every possible way."
  • Enter Rush Limbaugh, who says that if the St. Louis Rams should cut Sam, people will say it's because he's gay—just as people did when the first black coaches were fired. Dungy is "just saying, if the report is accurate, he wouldn't want to deal with the distraction of it all as a coach," says Limbaugh.

Former NFL football coach Tony Dungy talks to inmates at Broad River Road Correctional Complex on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, in Columbia, SC.
Former NFL football coach Tony Dungy talks to inmates at Broad River Road Correctional Complex on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, in Columbia, SC.   (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
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