Leading Off

Leading Off: Dungy feeling heat for comments about Michael Sam

NFL analyst and former coach Tony Dungy rightfully is being slammed for comments he made to the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune about Michael Sam, who became the league’s first openly gay player when the Rams selected him in the seventh round of the draft in May.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy said in a story about the NFL’s efforts to increase civility in locker rooms. “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.”

Though Dungy didn’t elaborate on what “things will happen,” the NBC analyst made it clear he wouldn’t put in the time or effort to hold his players accountable and make them behave like adults and professionals.

This is the same guy who mentored Michael Vick, speaking on his behalf and encouraging teams to sign the quarterback after he was reinstated following nearly two years in prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring. No one will forget what the Eagles had to “deal with” when they signed Vick in 2009 – outrage, protests and threats of boycotts.

And this is the same guy who praised the late Chuck Noll for adding Dungy to the Steelers’ coaching staff in 1981 when most teams had no African American assistant coaches. If Noll had decided not to hire Dungy because he didn’t want to “deal with” how some of the white assistants might treat Dungy during those less-inclusionary times, would Dungy have become the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl?

What about the Dodgers and Branch Rickey? They were willing to “deal with” what they knew would happen when they signed Jackie Robinson.

Would Dungy feel the same way if one of the top players selected in the draft was openly gay? Would Dungy be more willing to “deal with” the distractions if Sam was a better player?

And what about Dungy encouraging Tim Tebow to be “patient,” that he would find the “right situation.” Has there ever been a bigger distraction on a football team than Tebow?

Dungy is entitled to his opinion, but his comments about Sam are disturbing, especially from someone so highly regarded and respected.

– Tom Couzens


Today’s poll

What do you think of Tony Dungy’s comments about Michael Sam ?

• He has a right to express his opinion.

• Even if he thinks it, why say it?

• Enough already, go away.

To vote, go to sacbee.com/sports

Monday’s results

Who should be the Raiders’ starting quarterback?

• Derek Carr: 20%

• Matt McGloin: 8%

• Matt Schaub: 61%

• Other, please: 11%

Total votes: 118