Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tony Dungy Should Just Own His Homophobia Already

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

In the least shocking incident of the NFL off-season, football moral compass and former Bucs/Colts head coach Tony Dungy publicly stated that he wouldn't have selected Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL Draft.

I say least shocking because, if you know anything about Tony Dungy, you know he is a devout Christian who has spoken out in favor of a Gay Marriage ban in Indiana, and taken President Barack Obama to task, albeit briefly, on Twitter for "veering from the Biblical interpretation" of marriage.

Here is Dungy's exact quote on Sam.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ Dungy told the Tampa 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. It’s not going to be totally smooth . . . things will happen.’’

That's all fine and dandy. The former Super Bowl winning coach is entitled to his faith and his views. This is America, after all.

My issue is that a man who used to occupy what is essentially a hiring position (NFL head coach) outright said he wouldn't hire someone because they are a minority… And we take that as a "stance."

You could call not hiring someone based on their sexual orientation a "stance," or you could call it what call it when someone isn't hired because of their race, gender, age or creed: Bigotry.

So, Mr. Dungy, one of the most respected and deified figures in American sports, just come out and say it: You aren't passing on Michael Sam because he's a "distraction," you're passing on him because you're homophobic.

Just own it.

Can we all please get past this "distraction" bull shit? This off-season has been chalk full of "distractions" in the NFL.

Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested in February for the aggravated assault of his wife. Video later emerged of him dragging her limp and unconscious body out of an elevator by her shoulders.

In May, now-Brocnos safety T.J. Ward was charged with assault after he allegedly threw a glass at a female bartender when she denied him service at a strip club. This came less than 10 days after Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was booked for domestic violence.

I guess in the NFL violence against women isn't a distraction, as long as you're also sexually attracted to them.

A month prior to Hardy's arrest, star 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith was arrested in LAX for making a false bomb threat after being selected for a screening. Oh yeah, and emerging star receiver Josh Gordon failed at least his third drug test before he even began his third season with the Browns.

He followed that up with a DUI earlier this month.

What do all of these guys have in common, other than embarrassing their franchises and surely taking their teammates' collective eye off the ball of winning football games (sarcasm fully intended)?

They all have jobs in the NFL and, outside of a few anti-drug folks speaking against Gordon, nobody is suggesting that should change any time soon.

But maybe we're not being fair to Dungy. Surely, he would have steered clear of all these trouble makers!

Well, actually, as this Deadspin piece from 2010 reminds us, Dungy is the man who "mentored" Michael Vick after he went to jail for fighting and killing dogs, and the man who "mentored" Mike Locksley after he allegedly punched and choked one of his assistants while serving as the head coach of New Mexico's football team.

He also rushed to the aid of LaGarrette Blount when the now-Steelers running back punched a Boise State player in the face after a loss while playing at Oregon.

So, to recap Dungy's positions: Kill dogs, punch and strangle your subordinates, sucker punch an opponent after a game, but don't be gay, that would really be a distraction.

As for the massive media coverage and on/off-field theatrics Keyshawn Johnson brought to Tampa when Dungy's Bucs traded for him in 2000? Not a distraction. How about the media circus Tim Tebow brings to every team he joins? Dungy doesn't see the big deal with that, and he believes the Lord will send Timmy to the right team.

For as much crap as people gave ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard when he awkwardly said that homosexuality is "an open rebellion to God" in regards to Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, at least he didn't hide his views behind the guise of "basketball reasons" or "distractions."

Broussard is a devout Christian who doesn't agree with homosexuality. He came out and said as much. He also said he would not let his views affect the way he covers basketball, and that he believes Jason Collins deserves as much a shot to play in the NBA as anybody else.

Do I agree with his point of view, or the way he expressed it? No, but at least he didn't feed us the crap Dungy is trying to, and at least he understands that his religious views shouldn't cost someone a job.

Dungy should also remember that many were once against his hiring as a coach, simply because he is black. If he can push for the Rooney Rule and for more African-Americans to get coaching gigs in the NFL, how can he simultaneously say he wouldn't hire somebody because they're gay?

Apparently because "it’s not going to be totally smooth . . . things will happen.’’

You know, like every time a minority group fights for its rights.


Anonymous said...

So its okay to say someone is a distraction only if they aren't gay? What about Tebow? I didn't hear near the discussion with him, just because someone says person A will be a distraction and the player also happens to be gay doesn't mean his sexual preference is the reason the coach doesn't want him, its all the media coverage that comes with it. What other seventh round draft pick would have this circus around him?

Joe Parello said...

I agree with the crux of your argument (that Tebow, or anybody else, shouldn't be discriminated against because they are a "distraction"), but there are a few key differences between these cases.
Sounds like something I'll write about tomorrow... Anyways, thanks for reading.