Tony Dungy was asked about his opinion on drafting Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, on Monday. So, Dungy obliged and gave his honest answer—saying he wouldn’t have drafted him because of the constant distraction Sam would come with.
Dungy was interviewed by the Tampa Tribune and was asked about Sam, stating, “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.”
Many in the media and around the NFL excoriated Dungy for stating what he believed, but don’t count former New York Giant Antonio Pierce (who now works for ESPN) among those. In fact, he happens to agree that Sam would be a distraction to the team.
Pierce’s biggest point of contention appears to be that many have taken the politically correct route and given an answer people want to hear, not the true way they think in regards to Sam. Pierce said the following in an interview with “Mike and Mike” on ESPN radio, via the Sporting News:
“I thought Tony Dungy did a great job because he was honest. I think most people in this situation have been giving a politically correct answer and a lot of guys feel totally different than what they’re saying on camera, in front of reporters. So Tony Dungy was honest, and I agree. I would have to say if Michael Sam was a teammate and I was still playing and we were here in New York City and I was playing for the Giants, it would be a distraction and I would not want to have to deal with that every day with the amount of media coverage that it’s getting.”
He went on to talk about how his opinion had nothing to do with Sam’s lifestyle choice but that in an NFL locker room it is all about “the team” and not about an individual above the team.
“As long as we play on the football field together and do something about the team and not have to talk about that individual and what he believes in every day I can live with that, but for this fact, you have to talk about it every single day after every practice, and I think it is a distraction,” said Pierce in the interview.
Sam was a seventh-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams, and is seen by some as a defensive end or stand up linebacker. Answering that question and seeing if he can hang on an NFL field will hopefully be the ultimate decider of Sam’s future in pro football.