NBC analyst and former NFL coach Tony Dungy weighed in on the St. Louis Rams’ selection of former Missouri linebacker and 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam. (Sam is also gay, by the way). “I wouldn’t have taken him,” said Dungy, going on to explain that it’s not that Michael Sam doesn’t deserve a chance in the NFL–only that Dungy “wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.” Dungy said, “It’s not going to be totally smooth…things will happen.”
In some ways it’s an odd thing to hear from a man who has himself faced discrimination on his way to becoming the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl (with the Colts in 2007), and who has been a vocal supporter and mentor of players whom no one else would touch (see: Michael Vick). In the past, the author of Dare to Be Uncommon has also condemned as “disgraceful” the lack of diversity among NCAA coaches. Tony Dungy has obviously got a big heart, though not quite big enough it seems to encompass sympathy for the NFL’s first openly-gay draftee. Dungy’s right about one thing though. “Things will happen” as a result of Michael Sam’s debut in a league that is indefatigably macho and often homophobic, but growing alongside the rest of the country. They just might not be the things that Dungy expects.