Michael Sam is about to enter his first NFL training camp with the St. Louis Rams and the media circus has already begun--courtesy of a member of the media.
Tony Dungy, a current analyst for NBC's "Football Night in American" and former coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told the Tampa Tribune that he would not have selected Sam if he were still coaching.
"I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ Dungy said.
“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.’’
Sam was the Rams's seventh round selection out of Missouri, where he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season. He came out as being gay before the NFL Draft combine, setting off a firestorm of curiosity as to which team may draft him, if any would at all.
Sam will report to Rams' training camp on Tuesday, and if he makes the final 53-man roster, he'll also make history as being the first openly gay player in NFL history.
Blazing a trail
Dungy's comments are a bit peculiar, if not disappointing. A trailblazer for equal rights himself, Dungy was the first black coach to win the Super Bowl.
He wrote in his book in 2008 "Uncommon Marriage" that he and his family faced racism when their son Eric wanted to try out for the football team at a high school in Tampa.
He is one of the biggest proponents of the NFL's "Rooney Rule", a policy that ensures black candidates will be interviewed for head coaching positions, even writing the forward for the book "Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL."
Dungy has praised the late Chuck Noll for adding him to the Steelers’ coaching staff in 1981, at a time when there weren't too many black assistant coaches in the NFL.
Carrying on regardless
Dungy is entitled to his opinion. I'm sure there are several NFL coaches, players, GM's, and owners, who share his sentiment for various reasons and aren't brave enough to voice their concerns publicly.
Jeff Fisher, Les Snead, and the St. Louis Rams are apparently comfortable and prepared to deal with what will certainly be a frenzy surround Sam during camp. Kudos to them.
Let whether or not Sam's talent on the field be the deciding factor on his making an NFL team.