HOMOPHOBIA

I am not sure that I like that word. It brings back some childhood memories that I prefer to forget. Homo was the operant word of many teenage kids when I was growing up. Having been born and raised in New York City, there were many opportunities for me to hear that word and not think about why we were using it. In our parlance, homo did not mean gay people. It meant that you were down on the totem pole of popularity.
Obviously, the word has gone through many iterations and is now no longer in evidence. Even gay has lost its popularity. The reference is, these days, to the LGBT community, which is all encompassing. So why do I bring this all up right now? I just discovered that one of my favorite people is not the person that I thought he was.
Tony Dungy was the coach of two National League Football teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he didn’t do too well there) and the Indianapolis Colts (he won a super bowl there with Payton Manning). He has always seemed to me to be a gentleman. His relations with his players, the fans and the media seemed to be rational, on target and something that I thought that was the epitome of leadership.
Even in his new role as a football commentator was even handed. If Charles Barkley was Ying, Tony Dungy was Yang. I followed him into the broadcast booth with the same kind of rooting as I did when he was coaching the Colts. He even seemed to be respected by others in the broadcast booth. There was nothing hard edge about him- a gentleman above all else.
That all changed the other day. You may or may not know who Michael Sam is. He is a young man who played for the University of Missouri for three years on the varsity. It was after his last college season that he announced that he was gay. He had been elected the best defensive player in the conference to which his Alma Mater belonged. His coach and his teammates knew about him being gay. There never seemed to be a problem on the team. Actually, during his years there, Missouri did quite well in football.
In a recent interview, Tony Dungy said that he would not have drafted Michael on his team because he would have been a big distraction. Michael Sam had been drafted in the 7th round by the St. Louis Rams. The strange thing is, Mr. Dungy said that Sam was a good player and that the NFL is a meritocracy. So how come he wouldn’t have drafted a good player? There is something off about his comments. He did try and clarify his remarks today, but they came out just the same way.
There have been a number of football players that have not been chosen to play because of their off field behaviors. Those players never even make the roster. The word, “A big distraction” is never used publicly to describe decisions not to draft them. However, we all know that certain players could not control themselves and were always having problems.
How did the New England Patriots not know that Aaron Hernandez would be a big distraction? He was the player who is accused of killing a number of people. He was also related to gangs where he came from. However, the Patriots did take him because the NFL is a meritocracy.
Tony Dungy, I guess, is not who I thought he was. I now find out that he was been a spokesperson for some anti-gay marriage groups and has not always been as straight as I would have thought. He was called in to look into the Richie Incognito scandal in the Miami Dolphin locker room. He thought of himself, the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl, as kind of a role model like Jackie Robinson.
I did not know that he held long prayer sessions when he was a coach and wanted to have his players do bible studies. Is that not kind of discrimination? I am disappointed in Tony Dungy. I always thought so much of him. I am rooting for Michael Sam to make the St. Louis Rams. I know that he will get along with his teammates, as he did at Missouri. I am also thankful that there is at least one NFL team that had the non-Dungy way of doing things.

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