Tony Dungy: Gay marriage, football are unrelated


(Jeff Roberson / AP)

Tony Dungy elaborated on his beliefs and feelings about Michael Sam on Wednesday morning, calling the “Dan Patrick Show” to say that “gay marriage and who should be on a football team have nothing to do with each other.”

Dungy, who phoned in from vacation, added to a statement he made Tuesday after a comment to the Tampa Tribune that he would have passed on taking Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, drew criticism. Dungy said he was surprised by the reaction.

“I know a lot of people are trying to make this about my Christian faith and that’s something, Dan, I’m not going to back down from ever and I do have my Christian beliefs,” he said. “But I think people should recognize that when you go into coaching … you have a responsibility to deliver a good football team to your owner. So you’re going to do everything you can to do that. I would not and I’ve said that many times and I’ve been on record when asked about Michael Sam specifically, ‘No, I would not have a problem coaching him. I would not have a problem with him being on the team.’ You make those decisions based on what people bring to the table athletically and what they can do to make your team better.”

Patrick asked if Dungy’s faith should have entered into the controversy.

“Well, I think it always does. I think it’s part of walking as a Christian. I accept that part of it. People are always going to have their views. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me, but I don’t think people should expect me to back down on my views about faith. But again, this was not a discussion about that. This was a discussion about a particular situation at a particular time and a particular player and I think for people to take it into ‘this means he hates this group of people’ or he wouldn’t–those are the things I’ve been reading in the last day that have really surprised me.”

Dungy, the former Indianapolis and Tampa Bay coach who is now an NBC commentator, has said he is against gay marriage, which also factored into the controversy.

“Gay marriage and who should be on a football team have nothing to do with each other. Bob Kravitz [the Indianapolis Star columnist who wrote of his disappointment over the comments], he knows the type of [Colts] locker room we had, the type of players. Not everybody on that team was a Christian, not everybody believed the same things I did, not everybody had the same political views and that’s fine. That’s good. That’s what a football locker room is all about. To equate this to gay marriage is really silly.”

Dungy noted that he wished people would “react off the facts of what I say and not what they believe or what they perceive” and was asked if he might meet with Sam, a seventh-round draft pick trying to make the St. Louis Rams’ final roster.

“I hadn’t thought about it, but I think it might be a good idea and I’d love to do that,” he said. “Hopefully, I get the chance. I would want to wish him the best and let him know that I have no bitterness or animosity toward him even though I don’t agree with his lifestyle. I love him and I wish him the best and I’d love to say that to him.”

What, Patrick asked Dungy, has been the most hurtful thing about the controversy?

“That being a Christian, I’m somehow hateful of gay people or because I believe certain things about marriage that that makes me anti-gay or anti-anybody. I guess that goes with the territory, but that’s certainly not what my faith is all about.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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