Why Keith Olbermann’s Assault On Tony Dungy Is TERRIBLE for the LGBT Cause (Opinion)

Foxnews and conservative media outlets are regularly eviscerated for their biased coverage and/or their views on social issues, with homosexuality being at the forefront.

Some of this criticism is definitely valid, but it is also important to call out those who do the same thing on the other side.

Keith Olbermann is a prime example. MSNBC is basically the liberal version of Foxnews, and Olbermann is the liberal Bill O’Reilly.

On his show last night, he called former Colts coach Tony Dungy the “World’s Worst in Sports” because of comments he made about Michael Sam recently. Here’s Olbermann’s segment:

He starts off trying to make Dungy look like a hypocrite by pointing out that in February, Dungy said the NFL draft was, at the end of the day, based on merit.

It is not hypocritical for him to say that he wouldn’t have drafted Sam because he, “didn’t want to deal with all of it,” if he were still a coach.

As a coach, you do a risk-reward evaluation of any potential draft prospect. Unfortunately, the reality of our society is that drafting an openly gay player brings a lot of controversy, even if 95% of it is created by the media (if you don’t the media will try to divide the Rams locker room by asking the players all kinds of questions in search of a controversial headline, you’re delusional).

If Michael Sam was a once in a lifetime talent, that media circus might be well worth it. But he’s an undersized defensive lineman and a poor tackler, whose average quickness and athleticism doesn’t quite make up for his lack of size.

Michael Sam's combine grade

Michael Sam’s combine grade. Click to enlarge

Why do you think Tim Tebow isn’t in the NFL right now? Because his talent wasn’t enough to make up for the media circus that inevitably followed him around everywhere.

As Dungy said though, “…guys who produce and play well will be welcome in the league.” If Sam turns out to be a solid player, I don’t think Dungy would have had any problem picking him up in a few years after he had proven himself at the pro level.

Olbermann then calls out Dungy for supporting a ban on gay marriage in Indiana. Dungy has always admitted to being guided by his Christianity so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But him stating his support for a same-sex marriage ban seven years ago really isn’t relevant to the discussion of whether or not he would have drafted Sam today.

Every coach in the league, whether they were Tea Party Conservatives or bleeding-heart liberals, took into account the fact that Sam would bring with him a media circus and potential issues in the locker room.

Joanthon VIlma was one of a number of players who admitted being uncomfortable with the idea of playing with Sam: “Imagine if he’s the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?” (from an interview with NFL Network)

Why? Because regardless as to how the coach feels, there are 52 other players in that locker room, many of whom may have a serious issue with Sam’s lifestyle. Whether or not you agree with their views on homosexuality, that’s the reality of the league right now, and it’s foolish to act like we shouldn’t take that into account.

Olbermann then calls out Dungy for volunteering to be Michael Vick’s mentor after he finished his sentence for dog-fighting. Two things here.

Firstly, Dungy wasn’t coaching, so he didn’t have to take into account the distractions that Vick’s history would bring. Are we really going to sit here and attack him for helping Vick reinvent himself and his image?

If Dungy was coaching, I’m sure he would have taken more time to think about the decision of putting Vick on his team. Which brings me to my second point: Vick’s potential rewards were much higher than Sam’s.

Michael Vick led the Eagles to the playoffs in 2010 with an impressive season that earned him a spot in the Pro-Bowl

Vick was a perennial all-star and was regularly among the league’s top quarterbacks when he was arrested on the dog-fighting charges. It made a lot more sense for a team (like the Eagles) to take a risk on him than it does for a team to take a big risk on the unproven Michael Sam (which is why he wasn’t drafted until the 7th round).

It’s also worth noting that while Vick’s dog-fighting is clearly much worse than Sam’s gayness, it is less likely to create issues in the locker room. Again, that’s messed up, but that’s reality.

Olbermann saves the worst for last, insinuating that Dungy is a bigot because he had to deal with similar discrimination as a black player, coach and broadcaster throughout his years working with the NFL.

Standing up for your values is always a noble thing to do. But we also have to realistic. Dungy knew this when he was passed over for head coaching positions in the late 80s and early 90s in favor of less qualified candidates.

But he also understood the reality of the situation. He understood that calling out the racial bigotry of NFL owners when it came to hiring coaches would only hurt his chances of becoming a head coach himself.

It was this combination of self-confidence and realism that allowed him to become the first black coach to win a Super Bowl in 2007. Now, he has the platform to speak out and actually affect real change in terms of racial discrimination in the NFL.

Dungy hoists the Bill Lombardi trophy after the Colts’ 2007 Super Bowl victory

The point is this: attacking somebody for being homophobic when they are clearly just being realistic is not only unfair, it makes that person less open-minded about homosexuality and less willing to discuss it.

People like Olbermann use this fake homophobia because they know it will get people riled up, the same way people like O’Reilly use issues like gun control or censorship of religion in schools on Foxnews.

I’m all for gay marriage and equality, but if we really want people to be more accepting of homosexuality, we have to put them in a position where they feel comfortable talking about it candidly. Pulling out the pitchforks on your politically-charged “news” segment to get more viewers is doing more damage than anything.

So to Keith Olbermann: stop taking advantage of people’s emotions and trying to put yourself on the moral high ground. Then, just maybe, I’ll consider listening to what you have to say.

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