Michael Sam: Media must be more responsible


Courtesy Photo

Michael Sam celebrating after a team victory.

Zach Hannigan, Staff Writer

Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam made headlines on Feb. 9, when he announced he was gay on ESPN’s show “Outside the Lines.”

It was a landmark day for not only professional sports, but the United States. Sam can become, and is likely to become, the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Sam’s act of bravery may come back to hurt him in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Anonymous scouts told Sports Illustrated, that  his announcement would likely hurt his draft stock.

Sam, who won co-defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference of NCAA football, was projected as a third to fifth round pick by ESPN.

Despite winning that award, in the best conference in college football, his talent may not be what is looked at when a team decides to draft him.

It is a ridiculous notion that we hurt someone because he has the guts to announce his sexual orientation to the world, but that is the world of the NFL. Perhaps, the most macho world in professional sports.

However, when Sam spoke to the media again at the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 22, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope. He was sporting a “Stand by Sam,” button that a woman gave him and lauded the support he received on the Missouri campus.

Sam also said that teams did not ask about his sexual orientation in private interviews. However, he knows the deal when it comes to the media.

“Heck, yeah, I wish you guys would ask me, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going?'” he said in a press conference. “I would love for you to ask me that question, but it is what it is. And I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”

So is it the media creating this hullabaloo about Sam, or is it the NFL locker rooms?

No one can say for sure, but what we do know is that no one in the NFL has openly criticized him, despite the media’s best attempt to get someone to do so.

A similar point was reiterated by Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who said to ESPN, “He’s been a good player, he’s been in the locker room, it’s what you, the media, what are y’all going to do with him,” Newsome said. “Once he gets in, and he can rush the quarterback, get the quarterback on the ground and make tackles, he’s going to be a good teammate. The biggest thing is how the media is going to deal with it.”

So, it seems that bottom line in the NFL is really the idea of whether a player can help his team win games. And Sam, seems to hold that same sentiment, and has the talent to do just that.

It’s time that we take some of Sam’s own words and put them in action. It’s time to look at him as a football player and not the gay football player.