Brian Billick: ‘Dungy Talking Strictly From Business Side’

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy looks on during the Super Bowl XLVI Broadcasters Press Conference at the Super Bowl XLVI Media Canter in the J.W. Marriott Indianapolis on January 31, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Tony Dungy (Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Tony Dungy has one of the most respected voices in all of sports, but today he finds himself in the dog house.

Dungy, who does not support gay marriage, told the Tampa Tribune that he would not have drafted Michael Sam – not because he feels Sam shouldn’t be given a chance to succeed in the NFL, but rather, because he wouldn’t have wanted to deal with all of the attention and baggage Sam would bring.

Dungy’s words were surprising, if not stunning, to many, but there are also those who don’t see what the fuss is all about.

“Well, we have to preface (this) by (recognizing) how often we hear the constant chatter by the talking heads – and I’m one of them now – about any number of subjects (where) we need frank, open and honest discussions, this being one of them,” NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said on The John Feinstein Show. “You can see why head coaches are so measured in their responses and even in discussions about important topics. It’s hard to get anything done or move the needle forward because you have to be so politically correct in what you’re saying.”

“I think what Tony Dungy – and far be it from me to speak for Tony Dungy – but what I (interpreted) was (him) basically saying, Look, when you take on a a player like Michael Sam – given the declaration he made – or a player, say, like a Johnny Manziel or even a Tim Tebow, who has such a strong religious faith and wears his religion on his shoulders, you have to do so from a business standpoint. Bringing this player on is going to bring another level of interaction. Are we prepared for that? And obviously in the Michael Sam situation, it would have been totally naive to think that you weren’t going to bring that element, that discussion, that quite frankly needs to be had. But as the head coach, do you really want that circling around your team as you’re preparing for the season? I think that’s what Tony was alluding to.”

But Dungy supported Michael Vick when he was released from prison. He also supported Tebow when he was making as many headlines for his religion as he was for his quarterback play.

Isn’t there an inconsistency here?

“I don’t know,” Billick said. “I can’t speak for Tony, but I imagine Tony is very supportive of the circumstances and how we need to absorb people like Michael Sam and be inclusive in what we are as a league and a society. But that’s different from . . . his commentary on what was probably a very frank business (opinion).”

“I mean, we all want to be inclusive,” Billick continued, “but I guarantee you every team in the National Football League, in discussing Michael Sam – just like when they talked about Johnny Manziel, just like when they talked about Tim Tebow, just like when they talk about any player that maybe is bringing in some circumstances, positive or negative, around him – those conversations have to be had. We all realize this is going to bring a level of scrutiny. Are we all on board? Or does that just check that box that with all things being equal – and they never are – do you really accept that responsibility compared to another player that you might sign that you think honestly is as good or better?”

“I think he was talking very frankly (and very) strictly from the business side of what bringing on any player that has this type of circumstance surrounding him, how you have to account for that for your team.”

All that said, Billick, who coached the Ravens from 1999 to 2007, doesn’t think he or Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome would have had any issue drafting Sam.

Said Billick, “I don’t think we would have shied away from it.”


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