Wondering why legendary former NFL head coach Tony Dungy is currently a worldwide trending topic on Twitter? We’d wager some straight-forward commentary he offered on league rookie Michael Sam might have something to do with it.
Dungy’s on the receiving end of a brewing controversy (how big the furor gets is anyone’s guess) after telling The Tampa Tribune he wouldn’t have drafted Sam if he were still coaching. The 24-year-old defensive lineman for the University of Missouri was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the May draft.
The decision made Sam the first openly gay athlete in the NFL. Dungy, who took the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl, doesn’t question Sam’s talents but doubts he’d want to deal with “the locker room and media distraction” that will likely accompany Sam to his new home team.
“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.”
(Translation: “I wouldn’t draft him ‘cuz he’s gay.)
That went over about as well as you’d imagine. There are already calls for Tony’s job as a sports commentator with NBC Sports.
To be fair, Sam’s coming out story has a popular topic of chatter, even among non-sports fans. Shortly after signing with St. Louis, the Oprah Winfrey Network commissioned a reality show starring the footballer and his boyfriend. The series was placed on ice after Rams brass balked at the proposal.
Last week, Michael Sam accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2014 ESPY Awards.