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Tony Dungy clarifies comments about Michael Sam

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy made news on Monday when he was quoted saying that he wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because of the distractions surrounding him.

This wasn't a particularly surprising statement; Dungy is just more comfortable saying what he thinks than current coaches. It is also not surprising Dungy's comments created an uproar. Everything surrounding Sam is going to get attention.

Dungy knows he has been criticized, and wanted to set the record straight. Here is a statement he made to ProFootballTalk, in its entirety.

"I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that I would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael's first season had been announced.

"I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does. I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not. I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not.

"I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way -- by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

"The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they're good enough to play. That's my opinion as a coach. But those were not the questions I was asked.

"What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams. I do not believe Michael's sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

"I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

"I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field. My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation."

We believe that focus will change once the season starts as the reality sets in that Sam is another young professional football player just trying to carve out a career in an impossible industry. In the meantime, Sam will go about the difficult task of making the Rams' roster. Sam and the rest of his fellow rookies showed up to training camp on Monday.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" shines a light on the most unpredictable teams entering the 2014 season.

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