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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Tony Dungy’s comments on Michael Sam draw criticism

07.22.14 at 7:51 am ET

Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NES; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Phillies, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Indiana Fever at Chicago Sky, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
WNBA: Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


— NBC analyst and respected former NFL coach Tony Dungy raised some eyebrows with comments he made about Michael Sam, saying he would not have drafted the openly gay defensive end in order to avoid the distraction.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy told the Tampa Bay Tribune of the Rams rookie. “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’s stance has raised questions, especially considering he has voiced public support for Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress, both of whom were major distractions due to off-field behavior that landed them in jail. Dungy also backed Tim Tebow.

Dungy also is known for his strong conservative religious beliefs, although he did express support last year for Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete in major professional sports in America when he suited up for the Nets.

MASHUP POLL: Was Tony Dungy out of line to say he would not have drafted Michael Sam?

  • No, he was just being honest and did not cross the line (70%, 392 Votes)
  • Yes, there's clearly bias behind his comments (30%, 166 Votes)

Total Voters: 558

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The comments drew criticism as well as support on the web. Said former Vikings punter and outspoken gay-rights advocate Chris Kluwe:

“When it comes to someone who is a homosexual football player, he’€™s worried that something will happen in the locker room. I mean, no, I think it’€™s cowardly to say that, because it’€™s your job to make sure that nothing happens in the locker room. That’€™s exactly why you’€™re the head coach, in order to take care of something like that.

“And to try and pawn it off and say, ‘Well, I think it’ll be too much of a distraction,’ that really is just an underhanded way of saying, ‘I don’€™t want to deal with a homosexual player on my team and I’€™m going to do whatever possible not to have to deal with that situation.’ ”

The Rams have made it clear they won’t be swayed by opinions like Dungy’s.

“If you’re going to take a leadership position by drafting Michael, you have to expect the good and the bad,” Rams COO Kevin Demoff said. “We’re prepared for it, and I think we’ll shine through it.”

— Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby did not mince words when offering his opinion of the NCAA, saying “cheating pays” and predicting big changes on the horizon that fans of the current set-up will not like.

“You’re going to hate it going forward,” he said. “There’s a lot of change coming.”

Speaking at the league’s media day Monday, Bowlsby said enforcement is “broken,” and athletic programs are taking advantage.

“I think it’s not an understatement to say cheating pays presently,” he said. “If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. … They’re in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They’re fighting howitzers.”

Bowlsby, who spoke out against unionization in college athletics, said the lawsuits against the NCAA will cause athletic departments to make tough decisions.

“I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you’ll see men’s Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike,” he said. “I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources.”

— Former Lakers guard Michael Cooper, now in his first year as coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, left the team to seek treatment for tongue cancer.

Cooper, 58, is scheduled to have surgery this week, and the team said that he is expected to make a full recovery.

“I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection,” said Cooper, who is expected to miss two weeks. “I know the team will be in good hands with coach [Karleen] Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon.”

Cooper has led the Dream to a 15-6 record and first place in the Eaastern Conference. He’s already won two WNBA titles as coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Cooper won five NBA titles with the Lakers in the 1980s.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 22, 2004, which minor league call-up became the only left-hander to start a game for the Red Sox all season?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That one was fun. That one fired me up a little bit. I didn’€™t think I was going to get to it, but got to it, made the jump, timed it pretty good, and I was able to come down with it. That was one of the better ones I’€™ve made. It was fun.” Red Sox right fielder Brock Holt, on his leaping catch at the wall during Monday night’s 14-1 rout of the Blue Jays in Toronto

STAT OF THE DAY: 36 — David Ortiz‘s rank on Major League Baseball‘s all-time home run list, as he hit two Monday night to give him 453 and move past Carl Yastrzemski

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley reaches over the fence to take a home run away from Travis d’Arnaud of the Mets.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons makes an acrobatic play to get a forceout against the Marlins.

Peruvian soccer player Carlos Lobaton is the talk of the soccer world after scoring four impressive goals in two games over three days, including a blast from his own side of midfield that surprised a wandering goalkeeper in Sporting Cristal’s 4-3 victory over Juan Aurich.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Abe Alvarez, who took the loss as the Red Sox fell to the Orioles, 8-3, in the first game of a doubleheader split

SOOTHING SOUNDS: George Clinton was born on this day in 1941.

Read More: Bob Bowlsby, Michael Cooper, Michael Sam, Tony Dungy