Super Bowl-Winning ex-NFL coach Tony Dungy is under fire for telling the Tampa Tribune that he wouldn’t have drafted linebacker Michael Sam, described as the “first openly gay” player in the NFL.
Though Dungy never said Sam’s sexual preferences bother him, he claimed he would have passed on drafting Sam because of the distraction he could potentially cause.
FILE- In this Feb. 4, 2007, file photo, Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy reacts after getting doused after the Colts' 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl XLI football game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Dungy and former player Marvin Harrison are among 17 finalists for the hall; the voting will take place Saturday and be announced that evening, along with the AP NFL awards, at the NFL Honors show. They are first-time eligibles, along with Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
"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 reportedly said.
He later added, "It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."
Sam was drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. The media has focused heavily on his gay lifestyle, arguably even more than his play on the field.
As reported by the LA Times, some Twitter users were blasting Dungy as a “coward” and labeling his comments as “Jim Crow-era awful.”
Dungy has yet to comment on the Tampa Tribune interview.