Tony Dungy attempted Tuesday to clarify remarks he made regarding Michael Sam, saying the openly gay linebacker who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams “absolutely” deserves a chance to play in the NFL.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach said he would be concerned only with the distraction that media coverage of Sam’s attempt to make the roster would create if he were his coach.
Dungy’s comments to the Tampa Tribune for a story published Sunday created a backlash within traditional and social media. On Tuesday, in a statement released to media outlets, Dungy said he gave an “honest answer” to questions about Sam. Dungy said his comments were made to the newspaper several weeks ago, when “the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.”
The time frame of when Dungy made his remarks is in question. Tribune reporter Ira Kaufman told The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday afternoon that he talked to Dungy “a week or two back.” Also, Winfrey’s planned documentary of Sam’s rookie season was postponed in mid-May — long before Dungy was interviewed by the Tribune, according to Kaufman.
In the Tribune interview, Dungy, who is an NFL analyst for NBC, said of Sam: “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.”