Tony Dungy statement on Michael Sam: 'Absolutely' deserves to play

Tony Dungy blew the hot sports take world wide open on Monday when comments from an interview about Michael Sam appeared in the press.

Dungy said he wouldn't have drafted Sam because he didn't want to deal with the distraction. On Tuesday Dungy clarified those comments in a lengthy statement (via Pro Football Talk).

The former Colts and Buccaneers coach said he was "quite surprised to read" his quotes from an interview he "gave several weeks ago."

"I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that I would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team," Dungy writes. 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."

Dungy also elaborated on his view of Sam's sexual orientation.

"I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not," Dungy wrote. "I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not."

Dungy wrote he answered questions about Sam "several times in the last three months" and always pointed out the NFL is "about merit" and that "the best players make the team."

"That’s my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked," Dungy wrote. "What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

"I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization."

But ...

"I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction," Dungy wrote. "I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.

"My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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