The Washington Post

Tony Dungy says he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam

Michael Sam delivered an emotional speech as he accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs last week. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Updated with GLAAD comment

When Michael Sam was chosen by the St. Louis Rams, the consensus was that the first openly gay player taken in the NFL draft had landed in the right place at the right time.

Scratch that part about the right time. One former NFL coach says he would not have chosen Sam, the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, and cited the most basic of coaching reasons: the dreaded distraction.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ Tony Dungy, the former Tampa Bay and Indianpolis coach, told the Tampa Tribune’s Ira Kaufman. “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, now an NBC analyst, added: “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’

Judging by the immediate reaction to Dungy’s comments, the man who helped rebuild Michael Vick’s career is going to be elaborating on his comments soon.

“Talent is not a distraction,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told the Post in an email statement. “Michael Sam is first and foremost an excellent football player. That Tony Dungy can only see Michael Sam for his sexual orientation reflects how far out of touch Dungy has fallen with the NFL, which values a player because of his skill, not because of who he loves.”

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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