Tony Dungy clarifies remarks about Michael Sam: Believes media attention will be a distraction

Feeling the heat, Tony Dungy issued a statement today about his comments on Michael Sam.



On Tuesday, via a statement released to multiple media outlets, Dungy defended Sam’s right to play in the NFL while saying he gave an “honest answer,” and that his comments were made several weeks ago when “the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.”

“I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.

“I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.

“I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.

“I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way — by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit,” the statement read. “The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play. That’s my opinion as a coach.

“But those were not the questions I was asked. What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

“I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field. My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation.”

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