WFAA/Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen is known for his outspokenness, but his bluntness has seldom earned him the kind of attention that he has received for his latest “Hansen Unplugged” commentary.
On Monday’s newscast, Hansen did a segment about the reaction to Sunday’s announcement by Missouri defensive end Michael Sam that he’s gay.
In essence, Hansen told people who are “uncomfortable” about gays in locker rooms to get over it.
His two minute, 15 second “Hansen Unplugged” commentary titled “ Celebrating Our Differences” aired Monday night and went viral. It was the top-trending topic on Facebook on Thursday.
Among the websites that picked up his commentary were the Daily Kos, which ran it under the headline “Dallas sports anchor gives the best commentary on Michael Sam yet,” and Slate (with the tease, “A gruff old straight guy points out football’s hypocrisy about gay players in the locker room”).
Several YouTube accounts have posted it, and by Thursday afternoon, it had 1.7 million views on YouTube. By his own count, Hansen has received more than 1,000 emails from across the country and around the world, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Thursday afternoon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show said Hansen would appear on Friday.
“Sports broadcaster Dale Hansen’s beautiful, hard-hitting words in support of gay football player Michael Sam’s coming out have inspired a dialogue and movement celebrating difference across the web,” an item on the show’s website said.
“The video report of his commentary immediately went viral upon release, and Ellen’s got him front and center to share his thoughts with the world!”
Because of Olympics coverage, Ellen will air earlier than usual, at 1 p.m. on KXAS/Channel 5.
Piers Morgan called to ask him to appear on his CNN show, and on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell declared Hansen the nation’s “sportscaster of the year,” the News reported.
Hansen, a Dallas-Fort Worth television staple since arriving at KDFW (Channel 4) in the early 1980s, says it’s by far the most attention one of his segments has ever received.
“I’m shocked. I’m stunned,” Hansen, 65, a man who doesn’t shock or stun easily, told the News.
What Dale said
In his commentary, Hansen called Sam the best defensive player in the best conference in college football.
“Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL; says he knows there will be problems and they’ve already started,” said Hansen. “Several NFL officials are telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable, because that’s a man’s world.”
Hansen then went on a tear about what the NFL will permit and what it won’t. “Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that. You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!”
Hansen acknowledged that he’s not always comfortable when a man tells him he’s gay, but added the kicker: “I don’t understand his world. But I do understand that he’s part of mine.”
Hansen took a jab at the conservatives who tried to keep black players out of “‘our’ games because it would be ‘uncomfortable.’”
“So many of the same people who used to make that argument (and the many who still do) are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives. But then want government in our bedrooms. I’ve never understood how they feel ‘comfortable’ laying claim to both sides of that argument.”
Hansen said in an email to DFW.com Tuesday night that the response to his commentary had been “very, very positive.”
Hansen told the News that he believes some of the interest in his commentary may come from the fact people were expecting a different viewpoint.
“They see a big, fat, old guy from Dallas, Texas, and they thought they knew what the redneck was going to say. I guess they were wrong.”
About Michael Sam
In interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports that were published Sunday, Sam said he came out to all his teammates and coaches at Missouri in August.
Coming out to the world is “kind of a nervous process,” he told ESPN. “But I know what I want to be. I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
A 6-foot-2, 255-pound graduate of Hitchcock High School near Galveston, Sam, 24, a starter but not a star in most of Missouri’s 2012 games, elevated his play to become the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player of the year and a first-team All-American. His teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.
Later this month, he is scheduled to participate in the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Some scouts consider him too small to play defensive end in pro football, and say he lacks the skill set to move to linebacker. Others like his quickness and strength. As a result, Sam could go around the third round in May’s NFL draft — or he could drop off the board completely.
Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said via a text message that Sam’s sexual orientation would have no impact on the team’s evaluation of him in the draft and that the organization would have no problem welcoming a gay player in the locker room.
This report includes material from the Los Angeles Times and Star-Telegram archives.
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872