Michael Eric Dyson Compares Tony Dungy to 'White Racists' on 'The Ed Show'

On the July 23 edition of The Ed Show, host Ed Schultz and guest Michael Eric Dyson took turns attacking former NFL coach Tony Dungy for stating that he “wouldn’t want to deal” with the media attention that followed the drafting of Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly-gay draftee.

While the other guest, national sport columnist Terence Moore, attempted to defend Dungy, Dyson compared his “attempt to justify prejudice and bigotry under the rubric of having questions about distractions” to the “light, racist viewpoints that were promoted by many white people who were not in the Ku Klux Klan” but still “resisted the progress of African-American people by undermining it.” Forget “light racism,” later in the interview Dyson compared the coach to an infamous Southern segregationist who employed police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful protesters. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

When Moore claimed Dungy was brave to stand up for his politically incorrect views, Dyson retorted that “Bull Connor was brave, a lot of white racist were brave when they spoke up.”  

The very first question Schultz asked his Dyson was whether Dungy’s experience as the “first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl championship” was really “so different” than Michael Sam’s experience. According to the Georgetown professor, the coach is being “hypocritical here because as an African-American, he should understand the very vitriol that can be expressed in a number of ways.”

Moore fought back, stating “Tony didn`t say anything wrong.” According to the columnist, Dyson was simply referring to the NFL coaches widespread aversion to publicity, and “is not attacking Michael Sam`s sexuality.” Moore even cited the atmosphere of intolerance for anyone against the gay lobby in the NFL, stating, “you can’t say anything that is perceived as negative against Michael Sam,” since “otherwise you`re going to be considered the worst person on the face of the earth.”

Apparently, its not enough for the left-wing media for Dungy to be unafraid “to speak out” on issues of race. Instead, the coach, who had the audacity to cite his “faith when embracing Indiana`s gay marriage ban while speaking to a group affiliated with the homophobic, Focus On The Family organization,” should undergo sensitivity training and “be challenged and to really, really be put into a particular perspective that says, ‘this is a historic legacy of inequality that you should be sensitive to because you`re an African- American as well.’”

See transcript below:

MSNBC
The Ed Show
July 24, 2014
5:37 p.m. Eastern
8 minutes and 12 seconds

ED SCHULTZ: Tony Dungy first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl championship, he knows the challenges of a minority status in the league, and what this all means, he overcame a lot, what would be so different for Michael Sam?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Not much at all. I was there in Miami when Coach Dungy secured his place in history. I`m very proud of him, he`s a wonderful human being. But this is one of his low moments. This is the attempt to justify prejudice and bigotry under the rubric of having questions about distractions. You mean, you play -- you coach in the NFL, you`re associated with a NFL that has people who are criminals, people who have committed murder, people who have committed manslaughter, people who have committed domestic violence, people who have murdered dogs and the like, and yet, this is a distraction that is singular, that would warrant you not drafting this young man and providing him an opportunity. It reminds me of those, you know, kind of light, racist viewpoints that were promoted by many white people who were not in the Ku Klux Klan. But yet and still they resisted the progress of African-American people by undermining it. And Tony Dungy here, a wonderful human being as he is ...

SCHULTZ: He is.

DYSON: ... is really undermining the possibility that sexuality should have no place in the NFL. And he`s using this excuse for -- I think a shield for his own bigotry and his own homophobia and it`s a remarkably lamentable.

SCHULTZ: Well, there`s no question that Tony Dungy is a class act, has been his entire career, a very revered opinion around the league, highly respected. But Terence, he said that things will happen. He`s -- I think speaking from the perspective of a coach, he doesn`t want anything problems or at least not this kind of a problem. But what it would also leave the impression that there`s a level of possible discrimination here that he would be open to that, your thought on the intolerance there.

TERENCE MOORE, COLUMNIST, MLB.COM: Well, I mean first of all Ed and also Michael, I`m going to defend Tony Dungy here and I`m going to say this, even though Tony didn`t say anything wrong and I`m going to explain -- I will explain that in a second here.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MOORE: He cannot say what he said simply because if you are associated with the NFL than anyway nowadays, OK, former player, current player, coach what have you, you can’t say anything that is perceived as negative against Michael Sam, otherwise you`re going to be considered the worst person on the face of the earth. Now, let me tell you what Tony Dungy said and why I said that he didn`t say anything wrong. It had nothing to do with Michael Sam`s sexual orientation, it had everything to do with the fact that 99 percent of all former and current NFL coaches hate distractions. You`ve got this thing called Hard Knocks by HBO, which is a reality TV show that comes to training camps. The coaches hate that. The NFL had to force teams to do this on a rotating basis. And one more other quick thing along these lines, one of the dirty little secrets has been the case forever, certainly in the nearly 40 years I`ve covered the NFL. There have always been gay players on these teams and there is no question in my mind that Tony Dungy knew of gay players, perhaps on his Tampa Bay teams and also his Indianapolis teams.
So he doesn`t have a problem per se with the gay players, what he is saying simply is, he knows that now that the focus is totally on this guy, if you are a coach trying to get your team to win, this is going to be a very difficult situation to manage.

SCHULTZ: What about that Michael?

DYSON: Let me tell you what, first of all, I haven`t heard -- the distraction has been created by Tony Dungy himself. There was a few extra cameras as Jeff Fisher said, the coach, a few extra cameras in --you know, at the OTA`s. There were few extra cameras today. He said but by otherwise it`s been normal, so the point is that Tony Dungy himself in anticipation of a firestorm or a maelstrom of controversy created that very controversy. But let me go back to this, yes, he did say something wrong. It`s like saying, "You know, we don`t mind having black people in the coaching ranks." Tony Dungy himself was afforded an opportunity because somebody did not follow the tradition. Again, it was a distraction to have issues of a race brought up, just as much as there in sexuality and yet, some brave souls said no. The Rooney Rule is in place, you at least have to what? Look at the black coach before you hire somebody else? There are rules in place because discrimination is unacceptable and the soft bigotry ...

SCHULTZ: Yeah.

DYSON: ... of resistance and the kind of beliefs that are put forth by Tony Dungy and others doesn`t mean it`s right, it simply means that I think he`s using it as a smoke screen and it`s hypocritical here because as an African-American, he should understand the very vitriol that can be expressed in a number of ways.

SCHULTZ: Terence, do you think that the Rams coaching staff has had conversations about how they`re going to handle something if as Tony Dungy says, "Things will happen?"

MOORE: Well, I mean there`s no question about that and Jeff Fisher is considered a player`s coach. He`s a coach of the Saint Louise Rams. And the other thing is the Rams probably will have fewer problems in your average NFL team because you remember they`re in Missouri, he played at Missouri, they are players on the Rams team who played with Sam. So you’ve got that situation going on here. I want to say something here a real quick here Ed, I know Tony Dungy, I`ve known Tony Dungy for years.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MOORE: Tony Dungy is not afraid to speak out and he`s a guy that`s not afraid to give his opinion. I can remember 20 years ago when -- and it`s certainly about race, I mean he`s very -- I was talking about that. Charlie Ward was not drafted and he was a Heisman trophy winner, an African-American player. And both myself along with Tony Dungy got blasted for talking about that, about the NFL needing to get something done. I suspect that somebody has been whispering on Tony Dungy`s ear, telling him that he needs to back track on this entire issue, otherwise he would stick to his guns because I`ll still say that he didn`t say anything wrong, this has nothing to do with ...

DYSON: He absolutely did! And you know why--

MOORE: This is basically him saying that if I were a coach and all these coaches they were being honest ...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: But he said that he would not take this player because there -- “things will happen.”

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: You`ve got a player with a police blotter out there, can you draw the conclusions that things are going to happen possibly with that player too? It`s the kind of event that he wants to stay away from or the kind of scenario that might play out, which I think a lot of people think that`s very discriminatory.

DYSON: It is discriminatory because look, with all do respect to Terence, citing the fact that Tony Dungy is willing to speak out, he`s willing to speak out about race, that`s the hypocrisy here. He`s willing to talk about Charlie Ward, he`s willing to talk about issues related to African- American people but he`s not willing to speak up for another black man, Michael Sam, who happens to be gay at the same time. So the point is there`s a competition between his blackness here and his being gay and his own beliefs I think his conservative religious beliefs, which he is certainly, you know, has the right to express. But when you keep saying he`s brave just because -- Bull Connor was brave, a lot of white racist were brave when they spoke up. I`m not suggesting there`s a relation between Bull Connor and Tony Dungy, I`m simply saying this. Just because Tony Dungy speaks his mind doesn`t mean what comes out of his mouth is correct and it doesn`t mean that he shouldn`t be challenged. I think that he has the right to speak it. I`m glad that he did, now he has to be challenged and to really, really be put into a particular perspective that says, "This is a historic legacy of inequality that you should be sensitive to because you`re an African- American as well.”

SCHULTZ: Well, a story to follow, no doubt about it. Just that comment, just puts the spotlight and I think makes it probably tougher for Michael Sam right there. And of course, he`s got to make the team.

DYSON: Yes, absolutely.

MOORE: I do think that Tony Dungy is being unfairly portrayed here .

SCHULTZ: Well ...

MOORE: From a person who knows Tony Dungy. And what I mean by this is, again, there`s two separate issues here. There`s this distraction from the NFL standpoint, there`s a gay standpoint. And I should admit that Tony Dungy is not attacking Michael Sam`s sexuality.

SCHULTZ: I don`t think he is either.

MOORE: He`s attacking the fact that the media...

SCHULTZ: I don`t think he`s attacking him. I don`t think he`s attacking him but I think he`s labeling him. But -- oh, I`m not going to take him because of his sexuality. And, you know, this is 2014. I think we`ve all gone beyond that

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: –Do they have any adults in professional football?

MOORE: He would say that about any player. If you were a coach, Tony Dungy, that he thought was a distraction--

SCHULTZ: Okay.

MOORE: I don’t want that player.

(CROSSTALK)

DYSON: He took on Michael Vick. He took on Michael Vick and he supported Michael Vick in the midst of his own particular situation. If he can support Michael Vick, he can support Michael Sam.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.