How can anyone throw his support behind someone who tortures dogs, but not someone who's openly gay?
In sports, especially in professional football, it is still acceptable to be homophobic without consequence. Tony Dungy, the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl, when questioned about the drafting of an openly gay player made it perfectly clear: Hate still exists in the NFL.
Michael Sam, SEC defensive player of the year, was drafted in the seventh-round by the Saint Louis Rams. Sam is also the first openly gay player in the NFL. It is hard to measure whether being gay hurt Sam’s draft options, but how many all-American players are drafted in the seventh-round? Even Sam admits that he should have been a third or fourth round pick.
Recently Dungy stated on national television that he “wouldn’t have taken Sam.” Why? “Because things will happen.” I guess you can use your imagination on what those things might be: Towel snapping in the showers? Running around in tight pants tackling men on the field while other men look on? Communal showers after practice? Oh yeah, all that stuff already happens in football.
What makes the remarks by Tony Dungy particularly galling is the fact that this is the same guy who threw his support behind Michael Vick. Apparently, being convicted of running and financing a brutal dog fighting ring is less of a distraction than being gay. It is hard to support or understand this kind of reasoning. Torturing dogs, while illegal, is okay. Being gay, while not illegal, not okay.
Michael Vick committed a senseless crime of pure evil. He ran a six-year illegal dog fighting operation that included electrocution, drowning and the beating to death of dogs. When his West Virginia property was raided, skeletal remains of several dogs were found on the premises as well as many badly injured dogs.
Vick demonstrated vicious behavior. It was not a case where he financed this operation and had no knowledge of the day-to-day operations. Vick and his men killed one dog by “slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck.” How Dungy can support Vick by excusing this behavior while denouncing an openly gay player as a “distraction” is laughable.
Sam, unlike the closeted gay players before, is simply choosing not to hide who he is and live openly. It is hard to understand how honesty can become a distraction. As one of Sam’s teammates aptly put it, “There’s a 90-man roster right now,” said St. Louis wide receiver T.J. Moe, who played with Sam at Missouri. “It doesn’t go 89, and then Michael Sam’s over there – this is the gay team, this is the straight team. Michael Sam is on this team and he’s treated just like anyone else.”
It is not just Tony Dungy, but Christian conservatives as a whole who seem so completely incompetent when it comes to understanding what is morally acceptable. I refuse to believe anyone’s God would find a loving relationship between consenting adults to be a sin beyond salvation. But repeatedly torturing another living thing is not only forgivable but forgettable.