Flood Warning issued September 20 at 7:39AM EDT expiring September 22 at 8:00AM EDT in effect for: Manatee
I've sat back, listened and absorbed the ground swell of opinions regarding Tony Dungy's remarks concerning Michael Sam .
This is not a situation that is best served by quick rebuttal.
Frankly, this may not be even be fair to Dungy or Sam to interject my thoughts.
I don't live inside the NFL arena. I am not a player or coach, executive or owner. Futhermore, I wasn't the one asking questions.
Since this within the sports arena, sports writers and sports broadcasters like me feel compelled to interject their viewpoint.
Since Michael Sam is gay, Dungy's remarks prior to his clarification of his initial statements has touched a nerve with the common man as a whole, not just a football fan. I completely understand.
Where I am a bit puzzled is the in the initial Q&A Dungy had on Sam with Tampa Tribune NFL writer Ira Kaufman .
To qualify before going further, I have known Ira for over 20 years. A very capable journalist who doesn't beat around the bush when asking questions. There is no gray area in the mind of the one being interviewed what the question is.
I have known Tony Dungy since the day he arrived in Tampa to take over the Buccaneers.
The two, Kaufman and Dungy have known each other the same amount of time.
Here's where I'm confused. What was the exact context of the question Ira asked Tony?
Was it merely understood that Sam was gay, and the question was simply, "Would you have drafted him if you were a coach again?"
Or was it, "Would you draft Sam even though he is the first openly gay athlete to be eligible on draft day?"
I don't know, but as I said Ira does ask direct questions.
Here is Dungy's answer to the question regarding whether he would draft Sam: ("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.")
Tony has said that question was asked of him with an NFL coaches hat on, not Tony Dungy the NBC broadcaster. Keep that in mind.
I know I would have been curious after hearing that answer to follow-up with this question: So, are you saying you wouldn't draft Sam because he is gay and all the distractions it would bring to your team?"
I'm sure right there and then, Dungy would have addressed it spot on.
But I get the feeling that Dungy messed up and didn't address his stance like he did in his clarification yesterday after finding out the backlash he was getting from many factions.
I will back Tony up on this- He did say the interview took place right at the time Michael Sam signed on with the Oprah Winfrey Show to follow him around camp.
Fortunately that misguided idea vanished.
If you were an NFL coach or owner, would you have given The OW the go-ahead to film it all and basically air a reality show?
I'm quite sure that appendage of Sam's presence would not sit well with any NFL coach, even Jeff Fisher who drafted him.
I am also a bit confused why Dungy is being called a hypocrite.
Many say that he was there to walk Michael Vick back into the NFL arena.
Why wouldn't he open his arms to Sam?
Here's the fine line. Dungy was not an NFL coach when he helped Vick. He acted as a layman with great weight in the NFL to get Vick back on his feet.
In Sam's instance, he was asked to answer the question as if he was still a coach in the league.
Some of you are thinking I'm pulling hairs here. I'm not. Exerting ones presence and thoughts from two different positions can give you two different results.
Here's an example: You're a journalist. If your source tells you something off the record, it is off the record. It's an unwritten oath we take to protect our standing in the business. If government or local law enforcement officials request that information, you have a choice to give it to them or not. If you don't, you will likely serve time in jail for obstructing justice.
If your not in the business and would have no widespread journalistic career implications with the understanding of the unwritten oath, you might be more prone to avoid jail time by giving whoever the info.
The example is not so much in the what your decision will be. It lies in the circumstances at the time. Totally different.
I think we all need to step back and watch how everything unfolds.
Be aware this is a pioneering development in the NFL.
This is a business where testosterone flows greater than beer at a college frat party. Personal experience-there was a hell of a lot of beer flowing.
To be blunt, in NFL circles, Michael Sam had a very nice collegiate career but is considered a long shot to make the NFL. Not because of his sexual orientation, but his size as a defensive end.
The mountain ahead of him is great. Should he make the Rams squad, he
will have conquered a tremendous hurdle on athletic ability alone.
That should be celebrated.
What follows lies more in the minds of his teammates and how they interact with him, More so, how he is received on the field of play by other NFL players.
I hope we can celebrate that as well.
Tony Dungy has served as a positive mentor to those that needed mentoring. He has given them faith to push on.
In this instance, I don't believe Michael Sam needs mentoring. He has shown his inner strength by publicly admitting he is gay.
You don't teach that type of courage.
The real question is whether his NFL peers have the courage to treat him as a equal.