By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com July 21 2014 4:14 PM ET
Former NFL coach and NBC commentator Tony Dungy says gay football player Michael Sam would not have ended up on his team.
"I wouldn't have taken him," the former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach 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."
He added, "It's not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."
Dungy made his remarks just as results from an investigation at the Minnesota Vikings regarding the homophobic atmosphere in the locker room as reported by former punter Chris Kluwe, and a 144-page report into the persistent bullying ofyoung player Jonathan Martin while he was on the Miami Dolphins' roster.
When Sam first came out, Dungy said, "The NFL has always been based on merit, and I think that will continue to be the case with Michael Sam and the issue homosexuality or anything else. Guys who produce and play well will be welcomed into the league."
As CBS News notes, Dungy was the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl and dealt with racial backlash in his career. He also wrote an entry in the book Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL.
Starting this summer, the league has plans to assign ambassadors to each team to establish a more inclusive environment. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says making these changes has become a high priority.
"Locker rooms are unique," he told the Tribune. "And there are unique things we have to think about. We want them to be professional. We want them to be comfortable, everyone in that locker room, so they can focus on doing their job. That’s what we all owe them."
While Dungy may not have been ready for Sam to play on his team, St. Louis wide receiver T.J. Moe, who also played with Sam at Missouri, doesn't see Sam's sexual orientation as a big deal.
"There’s a 90-man roster right now," he said. "It doesn’t go 89, and then Michael Sam’s over there — this is the gay team, this is the straight team. Michael Sam is on this team and he’s treated just like anyone else."