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Tony Dungy defends Michael Sam critique, tosses blame on Oprah Winfrey

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy doubled down Tuesday on earlier remarks that he wouldn't have drafted openly gay football player Michael Sam because he wouldn't have wanted to "deal with all of it."

The NFL's first black head coach drew criticism on Sunday after he told The Tampa Tribune that he wouldn't have selected Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.

"I wouldn't have taken him,'' the former Bucs and Colts coach said. "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 tried to clarify those remarks on Tuesday by saying Sam's presence on the team would cause a distraction.

"I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team," he said, TMZ reported. "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 said. "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."

Dungy insisted some of the "distraction" would be caused by Oprah Winfrey.

"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."

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