Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss former NFL coach Tony Dungy‘s comments about Rams rookie Michael Sam. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Dungy, now an NBC football analyst, told The Tampa Tribune that he wouldn’t have selected Sam because, “I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it” and things wouldn’t go smoothly.
“I am so tired of this distraction nonsense. You have cameras and questions and screaming fans everywhere you go,” Zeigler said. “That’s the NFL. It’s the biggest game in town. You are always in the middle of a media circus no matter where you go or what you do.
“Will Michael Sam bring some extra cameras? One hundred percent he will. So will Johnny Manziel, so will Jadeveon Clowney, so will lots of other people. That’s just part of the game. And to make decisions based on whether some extra cameras are going to show up or people are going to ask you questions in a press conference, this is insane. You’re supposed to be at the top of your profession. If you make decisions based on that you shouldn’t be an NFL head coach.”
Zeigler said it’s hypocritical for Dungy to feel this way given his history of advocating for troubled players, including Michael Vick, to be given second chances. Zeigler also cited Dungy pushing for gay marriage to be illegal in Indiana.
“He traded for Keyshawn Johnson, who wasn’t known to be a quiet wallflower in the locker room and he said he didn’t agree with Jason Collins‘ lifestyle,” Zeigler said. “Everything adds up pretty clearly to Tony Dungy being a homophobe. He does not agree with people being gay. He has a moral problem with me marrying my partner of 11 years and he does not want that in the locker room.
“To me, it’s one thing to say that. But the problem is Tony Dungy was the head coach of an NFL team. He was making hiring decisions, and when you’re in a position like that you cannot allow things like religion, gender, sexual orientation and race to enter into your head when you’re making those hiring decisions. That is un-American and unfair.”
Zeigler said that Dungy being the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl makes the former Colts coach look like an even bigger hypocrite.
“If professional sports teams’ owners and leagues had not, 40, 50, 60, 70 years ago, said we’re going to ignore the race of people like Tony Dungy and we’re going to put them in positions to succeed, whether we’re going to be quote-unquote afraid or whether we’re going to be quote-unquote a distraction or whether the fans are going to like it or not. We’re going to do that anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
“The fact that Tony Dungy was a beneficiary of those very specific things and he would now say that Michael Sam and gay people should not be the beneficiary of those things. It would be stunning if it was anybody but Tony Dungy because Tony Dungy has a record of saying this and doing this. He raised tens of thousands of dollars to fight against equality for gay people in Indiana. For whatever reason, this issue is a bee in his bonnet and he doesn’t like it.”
Dungy released a statement later Tuesday afternoon saying he defended Sam’s right to play in the NFL and that his comments were made weeks ago when Oprah Winfrey planned to have a reality show chronicling Sam’s first season.
“I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization,” Dungy said. ”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.”
With regards to Sam, Zeigler said all the gay community wants is to see him be able to play football.
“Michael doesn’t owe anything to the gay community, but I know, after talking to many people who are gay, all they want is one thing from Michael: from him to play in the NFL as long as he possibly can,” Zeigler said. “He will do more for LGBT equality than 100 activists could do in 10 years if Michael just makes that roster and plays and God forbid the Rams go to the playoffs or win the NFC West.
“That’s all people care about. He doesn’t need to try to bring media attention, he doesn’t need to talk about the issues, he just needs to go play football.”