Updated 01:20 AM EST, Wed, Jan 27, 2021

Michael Sam Responds to Tony Dungy's Comments: 'Thank God He Wasn't the St. Louis Rams' Coach'

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As predicted, St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam is under the media spotlight just as NFL training camps get underway. Unfortunately for the openly gay linebacker, it's not by his own volition.

In speaking with the Tampa Tribune last Sunday, NBC analyst and former head coach Tony Dungy criticized the decision to draft Sam, claiming he draws too much attention.

"I wouldn't have taken him. 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," he said.

Dungy later clarified his comments, stating that he was not denouncing Sam's sexual orientation, but rather the media circus around Rams' camp.

Sam responded by taking the high road. "Thank God he wasn't the St. Louis Rams' coach," he jokingly told ESPN Rams beat writer Nick Wagoner Tuesday. "But I have great respect for coach Dungy, and like everyone else in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions."

http://twitter.com/#!/nwagoner/status/491720886626447360

http://twitter.com/#!/nwagoner/status/491720948391751680

The seventh-round draft pick faces an uphill battle in making the team's opening day roster. His journey is made harder by Dungy and the controversy it's created.

While Dungy adamantly denies his comments were taken out of context, his track record proves otherwise.

During his 2007 acceptance speech for the Indiana Family Institute's "Friends of Family" award, Dungy repeatedly cited the "Lord's way" and family values. He maintained a similar tone when President Barack Obama expressed his support for gay marriage in 2012.

"I was disappointed he veered from biblical view," Dungy tweeted.

His most volatile critics point to the Super Bowl winning coach's defense of Michael Vick following his conviction on dog fighting charges. In a blog entry, Dungy said people who admit their mistakes and are committed to changing deserve a second chance.

For his part, Sam is trying to make an NFL club with the only chance he may ever get.

Sam received the 2014 ESPY's Arthur Ashe Courage Award last week for coming out last May.

He's received support from straight and homosexual athletes alike, landing a reality-based show on Oprah Winfrey's cable network -- though it's been placed on hold for the foreseeable future.

He's faced adversity since and will do so leading up the final cut day.

"I don't really care what people are coming and talking about," Sam said. "My job is to make this team, that's my number one priority."

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