“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “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.’’
Michael Sam as member of the St. Louis Rams had actually ceased to be top of mind for me a while ago, and as news representation goes, it would appear the same for most of the sports media consumers. That’s a good thing. Normalizing the first openly gay NFL player via apathy of the general public is a step toward making an athlete’s sexuality a non-issue.
Tony Dungy feels otherwise. Besides being a noted homophobe, the former coach, current analyst, and guy tapped for tapioca public speaking and life-coaching books decided to make it known that coaching a player who is different or who he feels has potential to create a problem just isn’t worth it.
Things will happen. It suggests that Sam’s presence will be a distraction, even if only fueled by media coverage. Dungy is sure of it. Sure because he has the mentality of anti-gay teammate rather than the head coach responsible for ensuring a locker room and practice field environment that fosters (or at least doesn’t hinder) cohesive game production. Worrying about how best to calm the bigots is just an extension of one’s own bigotry. Things will happen because of Dungy’s personal issues and confliction with being an authority figure tasked with protecting a player he is prejudiced against. Luckily, though, neither Sam nor anyone else plays for Dungy anymore.
Because even while moral pillar Tony Dungy was an NFL coach, things happened. It was not totally smooth under his watch.
Remember when Dungy’s Bucs traded for Keyshawn Johnson, a receiver who had already written a book titled Just Give Me The Damn Ball? Or how about when as Colts coach Dungy’s “idiot kicker got all liquored up” and said that Peyton Manning and Dungy were team problems? And neither of those examples even deal with illegalities.
Per a database of NFL arrests, the following players got popped while playing for head coach Tony Dungy.
|9/10/2008||Indianapolis||DT||Ed Johnson||Arrested, charged with marijuana possession after being stopped for speeding.||Cut by team within a day.|
|4/21/2008||Indianapolis||RB||Kenton Keith||Arrested, charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, public intoxication and resisting law enforcement after police said he refused to leave nightclub parking lot.|
|3/31/2007||Indianapolis||DE||Darrell Reid||Arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession in N.J. after traffic stop.|
|2/20/2007||Indianapolis||RB||Dominic Rhodes||Arrested on a drunken driving charge after Indiana state troopers pulled over a GMC truck going 81 mph in a 55-mph zone.||Pleaded guilty to reckless driving, $1,000 fine, suspended sentence|
|1/3/2007||Indianapolis||RB||DeDe Dorsey||Charged with misdemeanor of carrying a handgun without a license after being stopped for speeding.|
|6/13/2006||Indianapolis||LB||Cato June||Arrested after missing court appearance for driving with suspended license||Dropped|
|5/12/2006||Indianapolis||DL||Vincent Burns||Arrested, charged with disorderly conduct outside Kentucky club|
|6/4/2005||Indianapolis||CB||Nick Harper||Arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly striking his wife.||Diversion program for first-time offenders|
|5/29/2005||Indianapolis||S_||Mike Doss||Arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm within city limits.||Pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, NFL suspended two games|
|1/1/2005||Indianapolis||DT||Montae Reagor||Charged with harassment and telephone threats to a former girlfriend.|
|4/3/2004||Indianapolis||CB||Joseph Jefferson||Arrested, charged with DUI, driving with suspended license||Pleaded guilty May 2004, probation, community service|
|11/17/2003||Indianapolis||CB||Joseph Jefferson||Charged with DUI in Bowling Green, Ky.||Pleaded guilty to driving with suspended license, $384.50 fines, 30-day suspended sentence|
|6/12/2002||Indianapolis||CB||Joseph Jefferson||Charged with carrying a firearm without a license||Acquitted|
|3/27/2002||Indianapolis||RB||Dominic Rhodes||Charged with domestic abuse after he was accused of hitting and shoving a woman.||Diversion program, mental health counseling|
|6/16/2001||Tampa Bay||CB||Alex Ardley||Charged with drunken driving after crashing Deuce McAllister’s sport utility vehicle into a house in Tallahassee, Fla.||Cut by team next day, pleaded to reckless driving, $670 fine, six months probation, 150 hours community service|
|9/12/2000||Tampa Bay||S_||Damien Robinson||Arrested on bad check warrant for car registration he failed to pay||Restitution paid, dropped|
|7/28/2000||Tampa Bay||WR||Darnell McDonald||Arrested on felony charges of aggravated battery and burglary of car||Cut by team, sentenced to two years probation, anger management, community service|
That’s some unsmooth stuff that happened under Tony Dungy’s watch. Some of those incidents were deemed distractions by him. Some were not. There was also, of course, the campaigning for a newly out of prison Michael Vick to be reaccepted into the game despite at the time being perhaps the most despised professional athlete in America—but that didn’t chart on Dungy’s distraction meter. It’s a gauge well-honed after Dungy’s son committed suicide during the 2005 Colts season.
Michael Sam’s sexuality isn’t a precursor for fines or jail time. It won’t lead to team violations or league suspensions.
Tony Dungy’s idea of Michael Sam has not happened. And I doubt it ever will. Tony Dungy as a distraction, though, that has happened.Follow paulmbanks