Tony Dungy tried to quell the uproar over his comments against drafting openly gay football player Michael Sam by saying it wasn't Sam's sexual orientation he feared, but rather the documentary TV series that was filming Sam's rookie season. He said:
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.
In addition to Dungy's timing being murky (he said he was interviewed nine weeks ago, while the interviewer said it was two weeks ago), his memory must be going as well.
Back in 2009 when Dungy was asking NFL teams to take a shot on Michael Vick, the beleaguered quarterback coming out of jail was being followed by, you guessed it, a film crew documenting Vicks' return to the NFL. The show would air the following January on BET and was titled The Michael Vick Project.
So if you're a dog-killing professed Christian and you have a TV show, Tony Dungy will go out of his way to champion you and ask NFL teams to welcome you. If you're a gay man and you have a TV show, he wouldn't even think of having you as part of his team.
To be super clear about what this is all about, you just have to take Dungy's own comments from 2009 about a conversation he had with Vick when he decided to become a big champion for Vick:
And the other thing I asked him was where the Lord was in all this. We talked about him growing up and having that side, that Christian background, but really getting to the NFL and feeling like he was his own guy. Somewhere in the course of all this he realized that he had left that spiritual side. When he kind of described that to me and the fact that he needed to get back closer to the Lord, that's when I said, 'I'm going to stay involved in this. I'm going to help you.'
It's that same Lord that Dungy has used to support anti-gay causes and say he doesn't agree with the gay "lifestyle." And, ultimately, it's that same Lord he is using to make judgments about whether he would draft Michael Sam if he were in the NFL (which, of course, he is not). Thank God.
The whole thing also points to the underbelly of homophobia in the sports media. Vick can have a reality show, but if Sam dares to it's a "distraction" and he must be cut from the Rams roster immediately. Sad.