Tony Dungy has today released a statement in which he defends his comments made in regards to Michael Sam.
The former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach drew great criticism when he was quoted as stating that he would not have selected Sam in the recent NFL draft:
"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," Dungy was reported as saying by the Tampa Tribune.
Dungy moved to address the growing discontent surrounding his comments with Tuesday's statement.
I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him,” he wrote. “I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.
I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.
I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.
I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.
Michael Sam would become the first openly gay player to play in the National Football League should he make the St. Louis Rams roster ahead of the new season
And Dungy, in his latest comments, went on to argue that his original admission was fueled by the media frenzy that would inevitably surround the former Missouri Defensive End rather than the player's sexual orientation.
Dungy, himself an individual no stranger to fighting against injustice, has been forced to act following the severe backlash that greeted his controversial comments.
Everyone from ESPN's Keith Olbermann, who made the point that Dungy clearly doesn't rate his coaching ability if he is unwilling to take on a potentially turbulent situation, to the vocal NFL fan base on Twitter were up in arms about the former coaches perceived lack of moral strength.
It remains to be seen whether he can find forgiveness with his latest statement. But, irregardless of when the original answers were given to the Tampa Tribune, surely the last thing Michael Sam wants to hear as he bids to make history in the coming weeks is that a man who himself achieved history by becoming the first black coach to lead a team to a Super Bowl would not be willing to deal with any increased scrutiny that may come with drafting a player such as Sam.