In statement, Tony Dungy says Michael Sam deserves opportunity to play in NFL

07/22/2014 1:14 PM

08/06/2014 4:56 PM

Former Indianapolis Colts/Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy released a statement Tuesday, a day after his comments on former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam created a stir.

Dungy, now a studio analyst for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” told the Tampa Tribune he wouldn’t have taken Sam because “I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth ... things will happen.”

In his statement Tuesday, Dungy said:

“I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that I would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, 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.”

Dungy later said in the release: “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.”

The full text of the statement can be found at Pro Football Talk.

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