For the past few days or so, there has been a lot of criticism and scrutiny for Tony Dungy’s comments stating that he would not have drafted Michael Sam because he would have been a distraction.
Dungy’s exact comments were: “I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ Tony Dungy, the former Tampa Bay and Indianapolis coach, told the Tampa Tribune. “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.”
Ironically, the point of Dungy’s comments have been missed, only to cause a media distraction of his own. Dungy simply wanted to avoid the media blitz that would/have blossomed by drafting Sam.
What people don’t seem to get is that the media is a distraction. The media acts as the gatekeepers of information that they feed into the public for their own consumption. A seventh-round draft pick in the NFL never, EVER gets any attention from the media. Yet Sam, a seventh round pick, does because of his sexual preference.
Sam deserves to be celebrated for his bravery to come out as gay in the uber machismo sport of football. He, however, doesn’t deserve to be lauded around on televisions because of it. That, to me at least, seems to be a much bigger issue. Any time an athlete or entertainer comes out, it gets picked up and put into a heavy rotation by the media. This fact says that the people in charge think it’s need-to-know information.
I don’t think it is. It’s not announced to the world when someone is straight. If we are to treat each other as equals, then shouldn’t we do homosexuals the courtesy of privacy if they so choose it? Because when you parade people around on television and showcase them as a special case simply because of their sexuaity, it defeats the idea of equality.
There are other cases in which I imagine Dungy wouldn’t draft a player because of the distraction he might cause. Players such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel cause similar distractions in the media if not more.
Just look at the ridiculous amount of coverage on Tebow just a few years ago when he was with the Broncos for that crazy, yet hysterical playoff run (they beat the Steelers!). Tebow was all over Sportscenter and John Fox always had that look of disdain on his face when he was asked about the quarterback who went 2-8 in a game the team managed to win.
Sam will cause the same problems and for the wrong reasons. Unless he is being treated differently because of his sexual preference, then there is no story. He’s a seventh round pick, who will likely be cut (but then again he probably won’t because cutting him could cause an even bigger PR disaster) – that’s it.
Also consider this: Manziel is a first round talent, Sam is not. In the NFL talent trumps all. If Jadeveon Clowney (the first overall pick in the draft) was gay he’d still get picked No. 1 because he is talented.
Talking heads and others are calling Dungy hypocritical because he supported Michael Vick when he got out of prison for dogfighting. The two situations are not the same. When Dungy supported Vick (who is also quite talented when healthy) he didn’t sign him as a free agent because he wasn’t a coach. He offered Vick support and guidance from the outside while he was in prison. Dungy isn’t lifting support of Sam, he’s just saying he wouldn’t want to deal with the distractions it may bring.
“But wasn’t Vick a distraction?” To a degree yes he was, but not to the level of a Michael Sam, and again it’s not like Dungy put Vick on his team. He served as a mentor not as a GM, as in this situation.
I have no problem with what Tony Dungy said. I would have drafted Sam if I thought he could help my team, gay or straight, but Dungy’s quote does have merit; it’s not something that should be written off easily.