On Tuesday, former Buccaneers and Colts coach, Tony Dungy tried to clarify remarks he had previously said about first openly gay NFL player, Michael Sam. He said that recent drafted St. Louis linebacker "absolutely" deserves a chance to play in the NFL.
The now NFL analyst, Dungy received a lot of backlash after his comments about Sam when he was a large advocate of quarterback, Michael Vick's return to the league after his dog fighting charges in 2007. Tony Dungy then became a mentor to Vick. Dungy defended himself and said that he had given an "honest answer" to the questions he was being asked. He went on to say several things to clear up his remarks and to prove that his comment wasn't malicious.
"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."