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Long Knives Out for Coach Dungy

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now, Tony Dungy.  It's interesting.  Last night I'm playing around with my new beta operating system and I'm surfing websites, I'm checking out new features here, playing with it, and I decide, you know what?  I want to see what they're saying about Dungy and Michael Sam on the ESPN website. 

And it's not there.  There's not a single word.  There is not a single story about the Tony Dungy story in the Tampa Tribune on ESPN.  Not a single.  Now, ESPN Radio, yeah, and they may be talking about it on Sports Center, I don't know, but on their website there's not a single word. 

If all you do to consume sports news is read the ESPN website, you do not know what Tony Dungy said.  But as predicted yesterday, elsewhere in the sports Drive-By Media the long knives are coming out.  Oh, yeah.  The LA Times dares take on Coach Dungy.  The USA Today dares take on Coach Dungy.  There a number of sports websites that dare take on Coach Dungy.  And we'll have details as the program unfolds before your very eyes and ears.

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RUSH:  Slate.com: "Tony Dungy's terrible comments about Michael Sam are homophobia defined."  Mediaite -- well, I'm outta time.  YahooSports: "Tony Dungy's assessment of Michael Sam shows stunning lack of courage."  But the cardinal sin committed here is intolerance, folks, that's just intolerable.

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RUSH:   I need to ask you all question.  Yesterday when the news hit of Tony Dungy, I remember previewing the news by saying, "Folks, there is a huge 'uh-oh' I just learned about.  I mean, it is an 'uh-oh,'" and I admitted to teasing you, and I held the details through a commercial break, pleasing several program directors on the EIB Network. 

And then I revealed the news to you. 

I need to ask you: At any time yesterday when I reported the Tony Dungy story, did I "endorse" Tony Dungy's remarks, and/or did I criticize Michael Sam of the Los Angeles -- sorry, St. Louis -- Rams?  Now, I asked the staff here, and the staff affirmatively said without any hesitation, "No, you didn't endorse Dungy, and you didn't criticize Sam."  I said, "That's what I thought." 

But Media Matters has a story out there headlined: "Rush Limbaugh Endorses Dungy's Remarks, Attacks Michael Sam," and that did not happen here.  H.R. said, "Well, I don't think it's gonna matter because I haven't had anybody from media to call and confirm it."  I said, "Well, when do you ever have the media calling you to confirm something they read on Media Matters?"

"Well, that's a good point.  They don't."

Precisely! The Drive-Bys just run with it because to them Media Matters is the gospel.  But the fact is I didn't say one thing or the other. I just reported what he said with, "Uh-oh!"  You know, it's the same thing that happened Tim Tebow. There were a lot of teams that said, "Oh, we're not gonna get anywhere near Tebow! Are you kidding me? The kid can't play!

"He can't throw the football! I don't want this media circus," and they didn't take him.  But Denver did in the first round, and then when it came time for Denver to trade him, the only team that would take him is the Jets. Nobody had a problem with that. Nobody had a problem with teams and coaches, saying, "I don't want to mess with this Tebow thing! No way, dude," and what was Tebow? 

He was a devout Christian, he leads with his Christianity, and that's what they were saying: "I don't want this circus! I don't want this mess."  Even the Broncos decided after a while they didn't want it, even after they won a playoff game against the hapless Steelers.  Okay, so Dungy comes out and says (summarized), "I'm not against Michael Sam having an opportunity.  I just wouldn't have taken him.  I wouldn't have drafted him. I don't want to deal with the mess." 

Now, I have no idea what... Some of the sports Drive-Bys are saying, "Now, let's wait a minute.  Dungy is such a revered figure.  This is probably taken out of context.  We must give Dungy a chance to explain himself."  Okay, fine.  I don't know.  I have not read the Tampa Bay story. I'll be up front and honest with you about that.  I haven't read it.  The only thing I could do is take a wild guess what he meant, based on who he is. 

I think you have to look at what Dungy said, if you're looking for context, from the standpoint that he's a coach.  We're talking about a player who was near the last selected in the whole draft.  He was a seventh-round draft choice.  Seventh-round draft choices don't make the team unusually.  Seventh-round draft choices get no attention whatsoever.  They fill out a roster in training camp.

They play during preseason games so you can save your starters, but they don't -- they seldom make the team -- and there never, ever is anybody in the media who cares about a seventh-round draft choice.  So Dungy, with his coach's hat on, might have been saying, "You know, seventh-round draft choice, it's not worth it for that."  I'm just wild guessing.  I never met... I take it back.  I have met Coach Dungy at dinner once. 

He's as nice as he could be.  He's a solid individual, I've found.  I've interviewed him on this program when his first book came out, in fact.  I had him on the program in the second hour.  LA Times: "Tony Dungy's Comments on Openly Gay NFL Player Michael Sam Draw Ire." Dungy said, "It's not going to be totally smooth ... things will happen. ... I wouldn't want to deal with all of it..."

All right, some reaction.  Yahoo Sports: "Tony Dungy's Assessment of Michael Sam Shows Stunning Lack of Courage."  Slate.com: "Tony Dungy's Terrible Comments About Michael Sam Are Homophobia Defined."  Mediaite:  "Olbermann Rips 'World's Worst' Tony Dungy for Michael Sam Comments." Olbermann has a show somewhere? 

Where does Olbermann have a show?  (interruption) H.R., you're... (interruption)  Olbermann's back at ESPN?  I didn't know that.  No kidding.  Well, I thought ESPN didn't want anything to do with politics.  Oh, well.  Uh, let's see. (interruption) He can only talk about sports, Olbermann?  So you knew he had a show there, too.  I didn't. 

USA Today, Chris Korman: "Wasn't it so warming and fulfilling to think, a few years ago, of Tony Dungy as a wise and rational man guiding some of the NFL's most troubled players through a league and a world so intent on bending and breaking them? His earnest face. His measured words. We were fools to believe it was anything more than a calculated act."

Well, that's pretty tough. 

That's Chris Korman at USA Today: "We were fools to believe [that Dungy] was anything more than a calculated act.  Dungy opened up about Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, this weekend. What he told The Tampa Tribune makes very little sense: 'I wouldn't have taken him,' said [Dungy]. 'Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it.'

"'It's not going to be totally smooth ... things will happen.'

"Yes, Michael Sam has generated more media interest than probably any other draft pick not named Johnny Manziel. If a head coach can't deal with that, he shouldn't be in the league." Oh, and on page two, Chris Korman, USA Today: "Of course Dungy's comments come as no surprise, and are not rooted in logic but ideology instead. He's raised money for anti-gay causes before, and said he doesn't agree with openly gay NBA player Jason Collins' 'lifestyle.'

"Dungy has said before that he believes gay players have the right to make a living, and many who have similar feelings like to point out that sports are a meritocracy. Those who can do the job well get the chance. But Michael Sam falls into a majority category of players who are nearly indistinguishable as athletes. They're ultimately judged on work ethic, intelligence, hustle, leadership and other intangibles.

"And, in some sad corners, by whether the gender of the person they choose to love might earn them a little bit of extra attention." Ooh, I'm telling you,  I knew this gonna happen.  There is nobody -- there is nobody -- immune from the lancet charge of intolerance.  Let's see.  There's one other story. Let's see. Ba ba ba ba ba.  Well, that's pretty much it.  I have an audio sound bite of Jason Whitlock here at ESPN. 

Oh! Here I've got a sound bite from Olbermann's show and I didn't even know it.  Jason Whitlock was on Olbermann's show on ESPN2 last night.  Olbermann says, "I think you have an opinion that might suggest how this goes forward  in the days to come after his remarks about Michael Sam, how he should be given a chance, except I wouldn't want to coach the team where he's going to get the chance."

WHITLOCK:  I was astonished by Tony's statement.  I have a great deal of respect for Tony.  I don't understand what he's thinking, and I think over the next 24/48 hours, he'll figure it out that you can't be morally inconsistent.  Doing the right thing is very difficult -- and Tony Dungy has always stood for doing the right thing -- and doing the right thing sometimes means doing things that you disagree with. But in the long haul, it's consistent with your overall philosophy about fairness, and treating everyone properly. So I -- I -- I hope and expect Tony Dungy to recant and restate his opinion.

RUSH:  Yeah.  Every story that I have consulted on this -- well, pretty much every, not every one, but a large number of these stories, last line, "NBC Sports had no comment."  Which is where Dungy works. He's a studio analyst on the Sunday night NFL telecast on NBC.  And they reached out to NBC for comment.  And the ESPN website, as I say, there's not one syllable, there is not one word of this story on the ESPN website. 

Now, obviously he's on their television networks and their radio networks, but nothing else.  So you think he's gonna recant?  (interruption)  You don't think so?  Well, the sports Drive-By criticism is -- there are some exceptions like the USA Today guy said he didn't want to string him up -- he's a fraud, he's a liar, it's all been an act. He never was this great guy we always thought. But other than that, most people, "You know what, Dungy's great, Dungy's smart, Dungy's brilliant. We don't really know what was in his mind. We need to give him a chance to explain himself and the context of what he meant." 

It was pretty clear.  He wouldn't want to be the coach in this situation.  He wouldn't want to deal with the mess, or whatever he said that is going to occur.  He just wouldn't want the distraction. He wouldn't want to have to deal with it.  How do you recant that?  "You know what?  I take it back.  I'll be happy to deal with the mess.  I would love to deal with the mess.  I misspoke and now I'm all for the mess."  What's he gonna say?  (interruption)  Would any coach say, "I want a distraction for my team"?  Well, no, would any coach say, "I want a media circus around my team?"  What a coach says and what he wants could be two different things.

You'll not convince me that some of these coaches that say they hate the media circus don't actually like it.  Media's media.  Attention is attention.  Fame is fame.  I think our culture and society's addicted to it.  I think they're so addicted to it people want to become famous for not having done anything.  I think people want to be famous without having to achieve anything.  I think fame, I think it's one -- (interruption)  Do I think professional football teams?  Yeah.  Professional football teams are just people, like corporations.  They're just people.  

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RUSH:  Has Tony Dungy not essentially made his point or has his point not been made for him?  So he tells the Tampa Bay Tribune that he'd be worried that the Michael Sam situation would create a media frenzy and that he wouldn't want to deal with it, and it turns out that just saying that has caused a frenzy!

Exactly what he predicted, that he said he didn't want to be part of, has happened.  He was right about it.  But, you know, here's the thing about this.  What do you have to do these days to satisfy the left on their demands?  You know, they talk about being open and tolerant and accepting and so forth, and they are the antithesis of that.  They are the most intolerant, the most un-accepting. 

You had better toe the line, you had better love what they love, you had better support what they support or you are finished.  They want to lay claim to holding the intellectual high ground and the emotional high ground, and they're nowhere near it.  They have zero tolerance whatsoever while demanding it from everybody else.  It is the ultimate in hypocrisy. 

So Dungy's point has been made.  

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RUSH:  Well, I just read this clarification piece from ESPN.com on Tony Dungy and it is what it is.  It's pretty close to what I thought he would say and pretty close to what I thought his viewpoint on this is.  He says, "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."

What he was saying -- I knew this was what it was gonna be.  He says, look, we're talking about a seventh-round draft choice here.  Not a first round or second round choice.  A seventh-round draft choice, you don't want this kind of attention to a seventh-round draft choice.  I wouldn't want to put up with that mess -- or not mess.  I just wouldn't want to put up with the distraction, whatever it was he said.  I even observed that he has made his own point here, that all he has had to do is characterize it as that, and look, here's a media circus.  And I just wouldn't want to be dealing with this as a coach.  So I would not have drafted him.  Because I don't want to deal with the distraction.  It's not that I don't approve of homosexuality. It's not that I think he's gonna be a distraction in the locker room. It's not that I think he's gonna be a distraction on the field.  It's because I don't want the media circus. 

No, this will not be good enough. In the sportswriter community there are some genuine activist, really mean social warriors, and this is gonna be viewed as a cop-out and, "Come on, he didn't mean to be this fine print about it.  This is an escape act, but he's not fooling us," will be some of the reaction you'll get.

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RUSH:  Well, I just read this clarification piece from ESPN.com on Tony Dungy and it is what it is.  It's pretty close to what I thought he would say and pretty close to what I thought his viewpoint on this is.  He says, "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."

What he was saying -- I knew this was what it was gonna be.  He says, look, we're talking about a seventh-round draft choice here.  Not a first round or second round choice.  A seventh-round draft choice, you don't want this kind of attention to a seventh-round draft choice.  I wouldn't want to put up with that mess -- or not mess.  I just wouldn't want to put up with the distraction, whatever it was he said.  I even observed that he has made his own point here, that all he has had to do is characterize it as that, and look, here's a media circus.  And I just wouldn't want to be dealing with this as a coach.  So I would not have drafted him.  Because I don't want to deal with the distraction.  It's not that I don't approve of homosexuality. It's not that I think he's gonna be a distraction in the locker room. It's not that I think he's gonna be a distraction on the field.  It's because I don't want the media circus. 

No, this will not be good enough. In the sportswriter community there are some genuine activist, really mean social warriors, and this is gonna be viewed as a cop-out and, "Come on, he didn't mean to be this fine print about it.  This is an escape act, but he's not fooling us," will be some of the reaction you'll get.

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RUSH:  So my staff, always excited by the exclusive opportunity they have to ask me what I think (face it, you would love that chance, too), asks, "So, Rush, is this enough?  Is this enough?  Will this put out the fire?" 

I said, "No, it is not gonna come close to putting out the fire." 

"Why not?" 

"Because he blamed the media." He just threw gasoline on it.  What he essentially said was, "Sam's great! Sam's not gonna be a problem anywhere.  Not for his teammates, not for his organization. He's not gonna be problem in the locker room. He's not gonna be problem on the field.  The media is gonna cause the problem.  Finished, over and out."  It's right here. It's right here. 

"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."  So he is saying he predicted that the media would make a circus out of it, and it's happening, and he feels bad to have played a role in it. 

But he's saying that it essentially proves his point. Ohhh! That's just throwing gasoline on this.  Blaming them?  They are the saviors! They are the arbiters! They're the guarantors. They're the protectors of the victimized and the aggrieved and the taken-advantage-of and the victimized and all of this.  Dungy... You know another thing they're gonna say?  I guarantee you. 

They're gonna say, "Tony, where do you work?  NBC, right?  What's NBC, Tony?  It's the media, Tony!  You are the media now, Tony."  That's what they're gonna say, too.  You wait.  Headline: "Hey, Tony: You. Are. The Media!" exclamation point.  It'll all be said.  I have a couple tweets to back this up.  Olbermann has tweeted: "Tony Dungy responds, tries to clarify his Michael Sam comments, makes it worse."

Bingo. 

TMZ calls Dungy's statement "double-talk."  It wasn't double-talk.  See, you can't be precise.  That's another reason he's not gonna get away with it.  He was engaging in precision.  "I was asked about drafting philosophy.  I said I wouldn't draft him because I don't want..."  Now, what he didn't throw in there, which I think... I shouldn't do this 'cause I'm putting words in his mouth.

But you can't talk about this without mentioning that the guy was barely picked!  He was picked near the end of the last round.  He's a seventh round choice.  Seventh round picks are anonymous.  Nobody cares about seventh round picks.  As a coach, you don't want anybody...  The seventh round picks round out preseason rosters and just you don't...  They're right up there with undrafted free agents, in terms of their likelihood to make the team and all that.

I tell you what else he's not saying... Well I can't say that.  I don't know what else he's thinking so I shouldn't go there. (sigh) But, folks, look, what does media pressure or circus mean in this case?  What it means is (and everybody knew this going in), "If you pick the guy, he'd better make the team. Because if he doesn't, you're gonna have hell to pay with the media.

"You're gonna have questions coming at you left and right. 'Were there any homophobes in the locker room? Was it uncomfortable for him? Did you never give him a chance? What do you mean he can't play? We watched him in the preseason and he looked just as good as your third round pick! What do you mean?'" All of that.

I guarantee you, no coach wants that. So I don't know if Dungy was thinking like that. I refuse to put words in his mind or certainly his mouth, but that's what "media circus" means.  That means, "I'm now part of a social experiment, and there is only one right thing that can happen here according to the media, and it is not the player being cut." 

Let me grab another quick phone call.  This is, oh, Terry in Paducah, Kentucky.  This is close to where I grew up.  Great to have you on the program.  Hello.

CALLER:  Hey, Rush.  As with all your callers, it is a great honor to talk to you, sir.

RUSH:  I thank you, sir, very much.  I appreciate that.

CALLER:  When I heard you talk about intolerance and tolerance earlier in the show --

RUSH:  Yeah?

CALLER:  -- over this Tony Dungy thing --

RUSH:  Yeah?

CALLER:  -- and the intolerance of the left for Tony Dungy, and they're calling out for tolerance for everybody? Well, Tim Tebow is not in the NFL now because of the intolerance of the left.  Just because the man is a Christian, no team wants to touch him with the media circus they would have, and where's the tolerance there?  It's called hypocrisy, Rush, and it's killing our country.  It is destroying us.  That and political correctness are destroying us.

RUSH:  I think a simpler way... I agree with you. But a simpler, more direct, and obviously much more controversial (which is my choice) way of saying it is: Liberalism is destroying the country.

CALLER:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

RUSH:  Because all of those factors are part and parcel of it.  Now, in Tebow's case it must also be said that everybody except one guy, who was the coach that drafted him... I have a mental block on the name. He is now the offensive coordinator for the Patriots.  Josh...? He thought he could play. He drafted him in the first round. But practically any football expert you talk to says that Tebow just can't play quarterback. 

His throwing motion... You've heard about the "quick release" that Dan Marino has.  Tebow winds up like a windmill to throw the football.  Apparently NFL experts tell you that that can't hold up. It's just not accurate and so forth.  A lot of teams say that if this guy would willingly switch to tight end or H-back or something, he'd play.

I mean, his heart and his desire and his work ethic is what everybody wants, but they say that you can't play quarterback and that apparently is all he wants to play.  But even saying all that, you're absolutely right.  There was a bias against Tebow, and everybody knows what it was.  He was all God all the time, up front and first -- and that just offends the sensibilities of the same people who are all wound up about this current circumstance.

And believe me, Dungy is an all-God guy.  There's always been that. Nobody will admit it, but there has probably always been underneath the surface a little bit of unease about that.  Lovie Smith, a good friend of Dungy, coach at Tampa Bay. They're both very up front about their Christianity and how it is the most important thing in their life. 

That's just, to some people... You know, this is liberalism today. That's unacceptable.  There no tolerance, or very little, for that if it's on your sleeve, if it's a you-wear-it-your-sleeve situation. If you keep it hidden, if you don't proselytize about it, that's cool. But if you do anything other than that, you're marked, and they're laying in wait for you when you screw up.  

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