Friday, August 29, 2014

History and Michael Sam

Whether or not history looks with favor on Michael Sam, only time will tell, but this morning I simply must give at least mention here of the man who earlier in the year became the first openly gay person to by drafted by an NFL team. Michael Alan Sam, Jr does have a spot in the history books regardless of how things go these next few days.

Is he a great player?  Will he be long remembered for his on-field performance?  Well again, it is too early to predict that, but today we do know that Sam has been cut, as the Saint Louis Rams set their final roster of 53 players. Did they do it because he was gay? There are some who will be saying that of course. But there is no evidence to support this.  It just was not his time.  Sam was not a strong enough player.
If you are a sports reporter, today is a tough one.  It is certainly one of the busiest for tracking NFL news.  It's also the most painful day of the year for NFL players.  "Will I make the cut?"  It's tough not knowing and then if you don't make it, that is really tough - especially when you are getting a little more than the usual media attention.
ESPN went over the line when it felt covering the gay guy's showering habits would be a good idea, but other than that, the media gave him pretty objective coverage from what I saw.  There were actually a few who might have given some unwarranted praise.  From the team side, it looked to me like the players were treating him like a player, and isn't that how it should be?
How wonderful it would have been if the first openly gay NFL player turned out to be a future Hall of Famer, but it just doesn't work that way.  We don't always get greatness just because we want it.  So will Sam be remembered as football's Jackie Robinson?  Well he did break the barrier, but if in this season he remains unclaimed, we might remember little else.  But be kind to him - it isn't easy being a first anything, especially with all that attention.  Be kind to the Rams too because they did give him a chance and he just didn't make it. 

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