Tony Dungy has the freedom to say what he wants.

And I have the freedom to think he’s a jerk for it.

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That’s part of what makes this country great. The part that, sometimes, makes this country a pain in the backside is that it’s hard to believe people still think the way Dungy does.

But apparently they do. And that’s incredible to me.

Dungy, the former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back and NFL head coach and current NFL analyst for NBC, doesn’t appear to be much a fan of the St. Louis Rams’ Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Or, at the very least, Dungy wouldn’t want him on his team.

Dungy made recent remarks to the Tampa Tribune that he “wouldn’t want to deal with all of it” in terms of Sam.

Translation: If Dungy were still coaching, he wouldn’t want him on his team, worried that the possible on-field benefit would be usurped by perceived off-the-field hindrances.

To independently make these remarks would be understandable if that is how Dungy truly felt. But, when you parlay them with Dungy-supporting-proven-dog-killer Michael Vick, it makes Dungy’s character curious at best, his words illogical and himself a hypocrite at worst.

You see, back in 2007 when quarterback Michael Vick was convicted on dog fighting charges, there was no one more vocal than Dungy in Vick’s corner.

Dungy went so far as to be a counselor of sorts for Vick, strongly urging he not only could, but should be assimilated back into the NFL.

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Let me get this straight: The guy who killed dogs isn’t a distraction, but the homosexual male would be too big of one to ever play on your team? Got it, Tony.

Again, illogical and hypocritical are the words that first come to mind.

All the more curious is that Dungy — an African-American — was born into a racial and ethnic group with a history of atrocities and unspeakable harms done to them throughout the history of this country.

Again, illogical and hypocritical are the words that first come to mind when I read what Tony Dungy had to say about Michael Sam.

On Tuesday, Dungy began a bit of backtracking — kind of.

As part of a clarification he supplied, Dungy issued a statement to ProFootballTalk that read, in part:

“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.”

Apparently the St. Louis Rams didn’t think so. The top brass of that organization have a divergent view than Dungy.

For that, for what the Rams not only think but for what they did, I think it shows a ton of advancement in the climate of professional sports.

Perhaps one day we can all advance past the point where there are still people who think like Tony Dungy.

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Now that would be real advancement.