After a day's-worth of uproar following a comment to the Tampa Bay Tribune that he wouldn't take Michael Sam in the draft because he would be a "distraction", Tony Dungy released a statement in an attempt to clarify what he said.
In the statement, Dungy begins by saying he was "quite surprised" to read excerpts from an interview he gave weeks ago about the NFL Draft — a claim that is surprising considering his vast experience not only with the media but as a member of it.
"I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him," he wrote. "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.
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.
The statement, which can be found in total at the Indy Star, goes on to say that Dungy thinks the best players should get a spot on the team and that he does not believe Sam's sexuality will be a distraction to his teammates.
"I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction," he said. "Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction."