Tony Dungy responds to his comments on gay NFL player

In this Jan. 12, 2009, file photo, Indianapolis Colts NFL football coach Tony Dungy speaks after the announcement that he will retire, in Indianapolis. Former Colts coach Dungy wonders about the process used by the Washington Redskins, who interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for the head coaching position last month even though Jim Zorn still held the job. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy,file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The firestorm surrounding former Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy continues. In a story printed in the Tampa Tribune on Sunday, Dungy was quoted saying he would not draft Michael Sam, who is the first openly gay player in the NFL.

“I wouldn’t have taken him, 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,” Dungy was quoted as saying in regards to the rookie player.

It’s the national story that’s become the talk of the town.

“It seems uncharacter like for him to say something like that, based on all the good things he’s done,” Timothy Compton, Indy resident, said on Tuesday.

“You know, I don’t think anybody should be judged by their preference as far as their personal life goes in football or in any other job people would be applying for,” Rik Pike said in downtown Indianapolis.

Indy resident Natasha Ferguson had a different point of view.

“I don’t think it was malicious. I think he was just saying he didn’t want to deal with all the fall out that would come from drafting Michael Sam, which I think is completely understandable,” she said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Dungy said in part, he gave the interview weeks ago, just as an Oprah Winfrey reality show was going to chronicle Sam’s first season.

Dungy’s statement is as follows:

“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 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.”

For his part, Sam has not responded to any of the uproar over Dungy’s comments. Neither have the St. Louis Rams, the team that drafted Sam in the 7th round. Sam is in rookie camp, which opened Tuesday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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