Fox News compared openly gay NFL player Michael Sam to convicted dog fighter Michael Vick, suggesting that Sam's sexual orientation would be equally as distracting as Vick's criminal conviction.
On July 21, NBC sports analyst Tony Dungy and former NFL coach said that if he were still coaching, he wouldn't have drafted Sam because the media attention on Sam's sexual orientation would "be a distraction" to the team.
Fox & Friends defended Dungy's comments on July 23, comparing the attention given to Sam's sexual orientation to the coverage of former NFL player Michael Vick, who was convicted of participating in an illegal dog fighting ring in 2007:
DOOCY: On the Twitterverse, they're saying he's a hyprocite. When you look, for instance, at Michael Vick. He completely rehabbed himself, right, via Tony Dungy.
HASSELBECK: You know, 32 teams had seven chances to say yes or no to Michael Sam, right? And all but one time in those seven rounds of the draft, teams said no. They said exactly the same thing that Tony Dungy said when asked by Tampa Bay.
KILMEADE: And Michael Sam said I'm a fan of Tony Dungy and I'm glad the Rams don't feel like he did. But Steve, to your point, Michael Vick coming out of prison, he was a distraction in the locker room because that's a major story every time you walk in.
DOOCY: Absolutely. [emphasis added]
An ESPN poll found that 86 percent of NFL players surveyed have no problem with having an openly gay teammate. As one player said, "In the NFL, you have friends, but it's a more work-oriented environment. I hope guys can be professional and respect who he is and leave his personal life out of it."
The Orlando Sentinel offers some perspective on how outrageous this comparison is:
Vick's crime was dog-fighting. Those who didn't make the cut were shot, beaten and electrocuted. Three dogs were hanged, according to a report by the USDA inspector general, "by placing a nylon cord over a 2 x 4 that was nailed to two trees." " Three more dogs drowned after Vick's crew put their heads in a 5 gallon bucket of water.
Sam's crime? He kissed a guy. On National TV, the day he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.
He became the NFL's first openly-gay player, triggering the usual liberal-conservative crossfire of whether this was the greatest thing in the history of sports or the end of the world as we know it.
Dungy has a very valid point about the distraction thing .It will indeed be a media circus with Sam during training camp. Don't you think that the Rams' management thought it through?
But Dungy has a serious problem on his hands trying to explain why a gay player is a bigger distraction as a guy who killed dogs.