Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy told the Tampa Tribune that he would not have drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player.
“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy said. “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. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
Back in May, the NBC analyst also called Sam’s partnership with Oprah Winfrey to make a documentary to show his journey into the NFL a “distraction.”
Dungy has been criticized by various sportswriters for saying he wouldn’t draft Sam.
Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk described Dungy’s comments as “disturbing,” because, “If everyone refused to hire minorities because it could cause a distraction, no minority group would ever make any progress.”
But as Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report noted, Dungy has been supportive of Sam being able to play in the NFL.
“The NFL has always been based on merit and I think that will continue to be the case whether it’s Michael Sam and the issue of homosexuality or anything else,” Dungy said in February. “Guys who produce and play well will be welcome in the league.”
Sam, who was drafted in the seventh-round by the St. Louis Rams in May, is not a guarantee to make the 53-man roster, especially given the fact that he is considered to be undersized for a defensive lineman and the Rams have one of the deepest defensive lines in football.
Dungy has a career record of 136-69 after coaching the Buccaneers for six years and the Colts for seven years.