Former NFL head coach and NFL analyst Tony Dungy recently commented in an interview with the Tampa Tribune that he wouldn’t have drafted St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam because it would have been a distraction to his team. And that attempt at being honest and candidly answering a question is bringing controversy down on Dungy because what he said is deemed politically incorrect.
Honesty should be a respectable quality in today’s society, but it seems sometimes a person being honest is vilified because some simply don’t want to hear things they don’t agree with. Tony Dungy just said what a lot of people are thinking, but are too afraid to say. And he didn’t disparage Michael Sam’s sexual preference, or say anything obscene, all Dungy did was answer a question based on his experience as an NFL head coach.More often than not in the NFL it’s thought best to limit distractions. And if a player presents a distraction then you have to weigh how much tolerating the distraction is to the value of what he brings to the team regardless of the type of distraction. If the player is an elite level talent the distraction might be tolerated more. Like Aldon Smith for example. But if the player is a fringe talent, you probably won’t tolerate the distraction much if at all.
At the moment, Michael Sam is a fringe talent. A late round draft pick who may or may not make it in the NFL. So therefore the media attention that surrounds him presents the Rams with a distraction that they will have to decide if it’s worth dealing with or not. That’s the point Dungy was trying to make, and yet some are twisting what he said into meaning he wouldn’t draft Michael Sam because he’s gay.
Tim Tebow isn’t gay, and he’s actually accomplished a few things in the NFL. But the distraction that the media circus around him creates is what keeps him off an NFL roster, more so than a lack of ability. Surely Tim Tebow could be a third string quarterback somewhere. But the cost of having to deal with the media circus is too high a price for most teams to pay for just a third string quarterback.
In an age where generic coach speak and one word answers have become the norm, it’s no wonder that people are shocked when they actually hear an honest answer to a question. And when they do get an honest answer it’s so unexpected that the act of the person making the statement becomes even bigger news than what the controversy was actually about in the first place.
But do we really live in a society where you can’t exercise your right to freedom of speech without the fear of being cast as a villain for nothing more than simply speaking your mind? Where you can’t call a team a certain name? Is there no incentive left for giving an honest opinion as you see it? It doesn’t seem like it. Is it better just to give the politically correct answer whether you actually believe it or not? I don’t think it is.