Super Bowl-winning coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy told The Tampa Tribune he wouldn't have taken Michael Sam in the draft because of the potential distractions that will come from Sam being the first openly gay player on a NFL roster.
Dungy told Ira Kaufman: "I wouldn't have taken him. 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."
Given Dungy's 2007 support of an Indiana group hoping to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, some took the quotes as a repudiation of Sam's sexuality. Others pointed out the hypocrisy of Dungy supporting Michael Vick after the quarterback was released from federal prison on dog fighting charges. Why was Vick's distraction any different than Sam's?
On the other hand, maybe Dungy feels a distraction is worth it in some cases (like when signing an All-Pro quarterback on the cheap) and not in others (like in drafting a seventh-round pick that will bring national media attention). Though that's not the pioneering spirit you might want from the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl, or any coach for that matter, the "distractions aren't always worth it" stance is a legitimate one. Did other teams believe it, too? Before the St. Louis Rams took Sam, every other franchise passed on him multiple times.
Sam already had to cancel plans for a reality show with Oprah Winfrey's network because, according to his agent, he wanted to "ensure no distractions to his teammates. If Sam acknowledges that the media frenzy over his courageous decision to come out might have caused a distraction, we shouldn't necessarily sharpen the pitchforks for Tony Dungy because he said the same thing.