Never has there been so much excitement surrounding a seventh round NFL Draft pick … until now that is. When the St. Louis Rams drafted Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam. The Rams had to know they were getting more than your run-of-the-mill seventh rounder. Sam announced that he was gay before February’s NFL Combine, a week’s worth of workouts held in Indianapolis that NFL teams use to gauge the attributes of draft prospects.
After what NFL Scouts called a less-than-stellar combine, he was projected to fall in the fourth or fifth rounds, but when he fell further down in the seventh-round, a few eyebrows were raised. Could it be his sexual orientation? Doubt it. But, Sam said through the Associated Press ” I should’ve been drafted in the first three rounds based on last season alone.” A somewhat valid statement for the SEC defensive player- of the -year and All-American, but how will his teammates react in St. Louis … time will tell.
I have no problem with Sam being the first openly gay NFL player, but what I do have a problem with is his arrogance. Sam only a few days after the draft signed his first endorsement deal with the Opra Winfrey network for a reality television show to document his experience in the NFL … is everyone forgetting that he has not made the team, yet? Hopefully, for the Opra Network’s sake, Sam does not repeat what Tim Tebow did in Patriots training camp last summer.
Tebow stuck around for the first four weeks of camp before he was cut.
Tebow brought the media circus with him, and there is no question Sam will as well. The Rams front office better hope that the public relations staff works extra hard with its players, so when they are pressed about all the cameras at practice and the attention surrounding Sam, they won’t respond with an arrogant comment. According to Christopher Gasper, of theBoston Globe, Sam and the Opra Winfrey network announced that the series would be postponed.
Reality television is a niche market that no matter what the subject matter is, there is a group that is willing to watch it. The NFL already has an HBO series called ‘Hard Knocks’, where camera crews document everything from when a player is cut from the team to standard practice drills. It is a smart move by OWN to postpone the series, not for the backlash it might receive, but for the simple fact that it might cause some tension in the Rams’ locker room. Gay or straight, it should not matter as long as Sam can do the job St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher asks of him. I think it takes a lot of courage to make an announcement like that before one of the biggest moments in his football career — not sure of what the reaction might be of potential employers. In actuality, it should not matter.
It’s 2014, and gay people are widely accepted. Sam kissed his boyfriend on national television when he was selected — many in the media dubbed that as the “kiss seen round the world.” I don’t agree with the attention Sam is getting worldwide for making his sexual orientation public — pretty soon hearing that someone is gay will be as common as being straight. It should not matter.
I prefer to watch quality football games, and if Sam can play up to the level or higher of his peers then, welcome to the league. There are those out there who will say the Rams will not cut him regardless of his performance because of the backlash it would face in the media. If the Rams keep a sub-par player that’s their prerogative, but if it is because he is the first openly gay NFL player, that would be a blow to their credibility. Sam should have the same chance to make the team as any other draft pick. If he’s good keep him, if not cut him. It’s that simple, folks.