July 18, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

MU’s Michael Sam Blames the Media for Failed NFL Career

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“It’s disappointing,” said Whitlock, “because I think whoever is maneuvering him needs to understand, the most important thing he has to do is make the football team.”

When University of Missouri defensive Michael Sam announced he was gay in February 2014, he expected the hubbub to last a week or two, but it never stopped, and he blames the media for the failure that followed.

“When I was drafted,” says Sam, now a motivational speaker, “I thought the headline would be ‘NFL has first openly gay player,’ but instead it was ‘Sam kisses boyfriend.’ Should I have kissed a girl? The media made it a distraction.”

The St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft. Sam expected to be drafted higher and believes his prospects dimmed after coming out, but that same February his performance in the NFL scouting combine likely contributed more to his slide than his homosexuality. The Rams cut Sam before the regular season began.

The Dallas Cowboys added Sam to their practice squad shortly afterwards but soon waived him. He never did play in a regular season NFL game but is routinely described as “former NFL player Michael Sam.” In 2015, he signed on with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian football League but left after playing one game for personal reasons.

The Albany Times Union, reporting on a local speaking engagement, observed, “Sam remains wary of the media. He refused interviews with the local press and stopped his talk to ask the television crews to turn off their cameras.”

Former Kansas City Star and ESPN reporter Jason Whitlock, profiled yesterday in the Sentinel, was one of the few observers at the time to see what was happening to Sam.

“You have to wonder if he’s not being manipulated and influenced,” said Whitlock. “Here he is now as a 7th-round pick, a guy who is a longshot to make the roster, he’s now involving himself with a reality TV show, he’s got a website up hawking t-shirts, his agents cut a deal to be producers on this show, his publicist cut a deal to be a producer on this show, again it just doesn’t pass the smell test in terms of authenticity.”

ESPN, which Whitlock accuses of having “lurched farther left,” awarded Sam the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at that year’s ESPYs. Its executives were much less interested in Sam the person than they were in Sam the wedge, their way of showing mid-America their own moral superiority.

“It’s disappointing,” said Whitlock, “because I think whoever is maneuvering him needs to understand, the most important thing he has to do is make the football team. If he doesn’t make the football team all their causes, concerns about the LGBT community, the selling of merchandise, it all goes away.”

 

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