It’s been well documented that society salutes its stars and heroes with praise and admiration so that later they can kick them when they slip up. Remember President Bill Clinton’s fall from grace? Tiger Woods and LeBron James have both been vilified, Woods for cheating on his wife and James because of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami four years ago.
Last week was not quite at the levels of the three famous names previously mentioned; however, Tony Dungy, the first Black head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and a highly respected and regarded NBC sports analyst (not to mention a former Gophers quarterback and Vikings defensive coordinator) and Stephen A. Smith ESPN analyst, both were torched on social media and criticized over the TV and radio airwaves for their respective comments.
Dungy said in a previous Tampa Tribune interview that he “would not have drafted St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam because of the distraction and all that goes with it.” Sam is the NFL’s first openly gay football player and was drafted late in the seventh round of the 2014 Draft.
ESPN’s Keith Olberman and others have had a field day accusing Dungy of being a hypocrite, comparing the Sam distraction angle Dungy raised with how Dungy defended quarterback Micheal Vick’s years ago after his return from prison for killing dogs and supported his signing with Philadelphia.
Dungy was called the worst man in sports by Olberman and generally criticized by many because some totally or to a degree disagree or take issue with Dungy’s comments. The St. Louis Rams’ Head Coach Jeff Fisher said Sam has not been a distraction for the team in camp so far.
Smith was tagged for his comments on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after he was suspended only two games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week for domestic abuse of his then-girlfriend, who is now his wife.
Rice was seen on video dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator. Smith, on ESPN’s First Take program, tried to make the point in his commentary that women have the responsibility to do their part not to fuel the dispute before it gets to a physical fight, assault or beating between the two partners.
One of ESPN’s female reporters, Michelle Beadle, called Smith out and stated she was offended by his comments. And the smoke never cleared until this week when Smith, after ranting on Twitter defending his TV statements, did issue an apology for not doing a better job of clearing up his intended original comments.
First openly gay NFL player Michael Sam being a distraction and domestic abuser Ray Rice’s suspension penalty are two issues that cannot be easily clarified when attempting to state one’s opinions. Both are emotional and controversial subjects either way with subjective interpretations, and when you attempt to comment or clarify your view on either, you’re in a no-win situation.
Just ask Tony Dungy or Stephen A. Smith.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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