ESPN’s Dan Graziano put it in kinder terms than I, but the point still stands: Tony Dungy would do well to keep his opinions on openly-gay NFL player Michael Sam to himself.
“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy said of Sam, the openly gay linebacker the St. Louis Rams selected in the seventh round of May’s NFL draft, at some point in the past two months. “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.”
“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization,” Dungy said in a statement released Tuesday. “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.”
Hollow words. Rhetorical slight of hand. Paradigmatic Christian bigot bullshit.
We already know why Tony Dungy wouldn’t have drafted Sam: because he’s a fucking bigot. So why the facade? He either thinks very little of his audience or thinks very little himself.
If media attention were a “distraction”, there’d be no superstars on any team. But that’s not the case. There are superstars on every NFL team — superstars with product endorsement deals, full-page spreads in Sports Illustrated, and guest spots on Dancing With the Stars. This patently specious excuse makes no sense whatsoever, least of all from a guy whose golden child superstar quarterback was Peyton “Hey Look, I’m In Another Commercial!” Manning.
While Graziano did a decent enough job calling Dungy’s bullshit on these issues, he was still a far way off from taking him to task. Sadly, the closing paragraphs reeked of the kind of blind obeisance sports journalists typically show coaches of Dungy’s stature:
I’m not here to call Tony Dungy a bigot or to dispute his right to say what he wants to say. My point here is that Dungy has a platform and that his words matter to those who work in and follow the NFL. And on an issue such as this, it’s important for a person in Dungy’s position to understand that and to think about the impact his words have on the world at large. Again, he’s welcome to his opinion. He just needs to remember how many people are listening to it.
For fuck’s sake, man. Dungy’s not thinking about how his words will influence future generations in their treatment of gays… because the creepy-looking fucker doesn’t like teh gay. He’s a fucking bigot, and that is what you, as a journalist, should call him.
If Graziano wanted to deflect attention away from Dungy and Dungy’s ridiculous religious beliefs — or, maybe, how he’s a huge asshole for not knowing when to keep those beliefs to himself — he could have instead taken a long, hard look in the mirror. That Tony Dungy doesn’t like teh gay is only half of the problem. The other half, people like Graziano, are the ones shoving microphones into Dungy’s face to ask him about anything more than one team’s ability to move a ball down field or another team’s ability to stop them.
They didn’t ask Dungy about this by accident. They knew what he was going to fucking say. Anyone would have. They asked Tony Dungy about Michael Sam because they knew his answer would manufacture controversy. And nothing gets people to click on headlines faster than good, old fashioned American controversy.
It was a fucking cynical thing to do, and Tony Dungy, besides being a contemptible asswipe, should be pissed off as well.