Future Hall of Fame football coach Tony Dungy said he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be taken in the NFL draft, because he “wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.” He’d be a distraction, according to Dungy.
I get where he’s coming from. Seriously. What with all the media attention Sam is going to get. All the cameras following him around. Think of how fans of the team would constantly try to get his attention, and fans from opposing teams would hate him, and people who don’t even follow sports would form opinions of him without knowing him. He’ll constantly be doing interviews and commercials and being asked to participate in community service projects.
BECAUSE ALL OF THAT IS SO INCREDIBLY FOREIGN TO NFL FOOTBALL.
We could get into a whole discussion about how disappointing it is that Dungy, the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl, would take this stance, given that it’s the same excuse that was trotted out against racial integration of sports. We can talk about how he threw his support behind Michael Vick, after Vick was released from prison for dogfighting, and how hypocritical this is considering how much of a “distraction” Vick was projected to be. And we can talk at length about the number of abusers, alleged rapists and murderers the NFL has coddled over the years because… Because. Exactly.
We can have any of those conversations. But right now let’s talk about Michael Sam.
Michael Sam is gay. Michael Sam plays football. Michael Sam was drafted into the NFL. To borrow a phrase from Vice President Joe Biden: It’s a big fucking deal.