Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy said Monday that he would not have drafted University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, if he were still an NFL head coach.
Sam became the first openly gay player in the NFL when he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of May's NFL Draft.
Dungy, who played football at the University of Minnesota and is a former defensive coordinator of the Vikings, told the Tampa Tribune that he would not have drafted Sam. Dungy was the head coach of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts, before he retired.
Sam was drafted late in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams with pick number 249. Leading up to the draft, Sam announced that he was gay.
"I wouldn't have taken him," Dungy said to the Tribune. "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."
According to Pro Football Talk, Dungy's comments aren't different than comments that were made by many coaches and general mangers privately, or in anonymous quotes in stories about Sam before the draft. But Dungy is the highest-profile person in the NFL world to attach his name to the comments.
In 2007, Dungy became the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl. His Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI.
According to the Huffington Post, he wrote the foreword to a book about discrimination and opportunity in the NFL. His opinion touched off a social media firestorm, Monday.
Dungy hasn't been against homosexuals in professional sports. In fact, the Sporting News notes that Dungy supported Jason Collins after he became the first openly gay NBA player.
But according to the report, because of Dungy's beliefs Sam may not have been a good fit in any of the teams he coached.
"That said, given Dungy's beliefs, it would have been harder for him coaching Sam to handle some of added scrutiny and potential extra controversy. No so with the Rams. Since they called Sam's name in May, Fisher and the rest of their leadership have expressed that they're most interested in how Sam can help the team, and there would be nothing distracting about the process."