Monday, May 12, 2014

Undeniably historic

University of Missouri DE Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft this past week. Normally such a pick draws little more spotlight than the name of said draftee being flashed across the bottom of a TV screen while the "draft experts" pontificate. Obviously this draft pick was different due to the fact that Sam announced earlier this year that he is a homosexual. As such, he would be the first openly gay active NFL player should he make the Rams' roster.

I've said many times over the past several months that in today's environment, the four major professional sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) are more than ready to have an openly gay player participating in their respective leagues for one prevailing reason: any moral objections to the homosexual lifestyle is met with swift repudiation and harsh condemnation. Regardless, that doesn't diminish the fact that this was a watershed moment in NFL history.

Perhaps the most stupefying analysis of Sam being drafted occurred Monday on NBC's Today. Host Matt Lauer was discussing with Bob Costas this undeniably historic moment in the NFL. 

At the top of Monday's exchange, Lauer observed: "Back in February, Michael Sam said, 'I wish people could see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player.' Based on the attention and coverage we've seen since the third day of the draft, we're a ways away from that.'

It would be fair to say that the NFL has lagged behind society as a whole when it comes to allowing openly gay participants. But since that breakthrough has finally occurred, I find it puzzling that Lauer seemed almost surprised at how Sam's draft status was being covered. Again, Sam is the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft. Like it or not, that is the predominate story line until, as Lauer also pointed out, other gay NFL prospects emerge. And when that happens I'd like to think we'll be past the point where those aspiring NFLers feel they have to make a public declaration of their homosexuality.

Personally I can tell you that my reaction to video footage of a very emotional Sam receiving the call he would be drafted was the same as when #1 overall selection Jadeveon Clowney had his name announced. That reaction was one of me getting choked up as I witnessed both young men shed tears of joy upon the realization of a lifelong dream coming that much closer to fruition. At that point, their respective off-field lives were barely an afterthought, which I'm certain is exactly how both players (particularly Sam) preferred it.

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1 Comments:

At 5/13/2014 11:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad,

I have a little different take as to Sam and the draft. The published football research I found on Sam indicated that he would be at best a mediocre player whose talents were simply going straight upfield. There aren't many NFL players that are able to earn a living having only one skill (of a subset) that is likely easily blocked. My belief is that Sam or Sam's agent is the smartest person associated with the NFL since his coming out probably guaranteed Sam three years of NFL salary. His coming out essentially guaranteed he would be drafted since the NFL would be viewed as homophobic bigots otherwise. The same logic will apply to his play and he will be given every benefit of the doubt (and then some) before he is cut from the team/league as the league will have show that they more than gave him a "fair" chance otherwise they will again be labeled as bigots. I do wholeheartedly agree with Sam and that he should have been judged on his football talent which the experts indicated is not up to par with the NFL. Time will tell how much Sam is able to take advantage of his opportunity (he does seem to have the one pre-req in that he thinks he is good/better than he actually is), but my guess is that he'll be a bust and be out of the league within three years (I'd say year one - practice squad, year two - very limited playing time exposing his ability and cut somewhere between year two and three).

 

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