Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly
gay player, on Wednesday responded to Tony Dungy's comments about not
wanting to coach Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player.
When asked whether he would have
drafted Sam, Dungy, a former NFL player and coach, said no.
“I wouldn't have taken him,” Dungy
told the Tampa
Bay Tribune. “Not because I don't believe Michael Sam
should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of
it. It's not going to be totally smooth. Things will happen.”
Dungy clarified in a statement that he
was referring to the media attention that goes along with drafting an
openly gay player.
Appearing on cabler Pivot's
TakePart Live, Collins said that Dungy should look to his
experience with the Brooklyn Nets.
“As an NFL coach … shouldn't he
want a challenge?” Collins rhetorically asked. “As an athlete, I
love a challenge, overcoming obstacles. That being said, I think
that personnel, coaches, owners can look at my example, my journey in
the NBA and see that after two weeks back, it was about basketball.
There were games, especially a month after I was signed, that
reporters didn't even ask me any questions.”
“It will always go back to the sport,
because there's only so many ways they can write the article, only so
many ways they can talk about LGBT issues when you're a professional
athlete because you're a professional athlete first,” he added.
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responded by joking, “Thank God [Dungy] wasn't a St. Louis Rams
coach. I have great respect for Tony Dungy. Like everyone in
America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”
Rams coach Jeff Fischer backed up Sam,
saying on ESPN radio's Mike
& Mike that Sam is not a distraction for the team.