St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam is focused on making the team just like every other football player invited to training camps across the NFL. But being the first openly gay football player has put Sam under a media microscope that he has had to find a way to deal with in order to remain focused on football. On Tuesday, Sam addressed comments made by former NFL coach Tony Dungy that he wouldn’t have drafted Sam because of the possible distractions.
Dungy immediately came under scrutiny for the comments and clarified the context of what he said in a statement released Tuesday. The statements made by Dungy in an interview with the Tampa Tribune published Sunday have become a topic of discussion and Dungy has received much backlash. Sam simply addressed the comments with humor.
When asked about what Dungy said, Sam said, “Thank God he wasn’t St. Louis Rams’ coach. But I have a great respect for Dungy, and everyone in America is entitled to their own opinions.” The seventh-round pick of the Rams remained focus on football as a reporter continued to question the topic by saying his main priority is making the team.
In clarification, the distractions Dungy was referring to are the same distractions created by his comments. So far Michael Sam hasn’t let any distraction deter his focus away from making the team and according to head coach Jeff Fisher, he hasn’t been a distraction to the team either. In an appearance on ESPN radio’s “Mike & Mike” Wednesday, Fisher was asked whether Sam has been a distraction.
Fisher answered, saying “Absolutely not. Let’s define distraction. Thee were a couple extra cameras during early OTAs. There may have been an extra camera yesterday as rookies reported and went on the field the first time. Mike’s a very passionate athlete. He’s very focused on trying to make this football team.”
Through all of this, Dungy has wished Michael Sam the best in trying to obtain his dream of being an NFL football player. On his journey, Sam is going to have these social obstacles he will have to hurdle over to achieve his goals. With the life he has lived and what he has overcome to get where he is now, those obstacles are something Sam is used to defeating.