City Sports Report

Tony Dungy in The Lion’s Den by Marc Rasbury

On Monday the beloved former NFL player and head coach Tony Dungy created a media fire storm when he stated that he would not have drafted Missouri Tigers Linebacker Michael Sam, who announced that he is gay prior to the NFL Combines and Draft.

“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,” Dungy said. Dungy, a devote Christian, in the past has spoken out against gay marriages and other gay-related topics. However, I do not think that he is against having a gay player on his squad.

If you listen to some of the pundits on the sports networks and some of the opinions of those on social media, Dungy is being vilified as a hypocrite for taking this stance. They say that Dungy came to Michael Vick’s defense after he served his time for the dog abuse case a few years ago. They also claim that the NFL in general has no problem taking back players who have been convicted for vehicular homicide like Donte’ Stallworth or in the case of the Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice, who was charged with domestic violence when he knocked out his fiancé.

As many players and front office officials have claimed from day one, if he could help their team win, they will welcome Sam with open arms. The question is, can he help his team win? 31 teams passed on the chance to select Sam multiple times before the St. Louis Rams took him with the 249 pick of this year’s Draft.

Some feel that he dropped in the draft because he came out of the closet and he would have been a distraction in the clubhouse. I do not believe that. He dropped because he had a poor showing at the combine and most folks in the know did not know what position he would play at the NFL level. He is too slow to be a linebacker and is not strong enough to play defensive end. If he goes into camp this summer and shows that he can contribute, he will be alright. If he is cut, it will not be because he is gay. Rice and Stallworth would not be asked back by their respective clubs if those organizations didn’t think that they couldn’t contribute or produce. If Rice doesn’t revert back to his All-Pro production this season, he will be shown the door.


Now I can’t get into Dungy’s mind, but I feel that he thinks that Sam’s potential is not worth the media attention that will swarm his locker room if he had drafted him. Maybe his religious beliefs are at the center of his statements and if that is the case, he will not be alone regarding his concerns. Perhaps there are other members of the NFL that do not want “to deal with all of it.” Dungy is just the first to admit it.


Players are going to get tired of answering questions about another player, especially with the non-football media seeking someone to say something controversial about Sam. Trust me, if Sam was a first-round talent, there would be no question he would have not lasted as long as he did.


This is not about Sam being gay. This is about production versus distraction. If Sam brought the talent of Lawrence Taylor to his camp, I’m sure Dungy would be at the airport to pick up the young stud for training camp. Only time will tell how this benchmark moment in sports will turn out.

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