The reason some people think Michael Sam isn’t worth a roster spot in the NFL has nothing to do with his life choices. It has everything to do with the media circus that surrounds him because of his making public his life choices.
Tony Dungy offered an opinion on Michael Sam and whether or not he would have drafted the former Missouri Tiger star defensive player in the 2014 NFL Draft.
But because Sam is gay, and expressing opinions, even opinions that don’t directly associate with an opinion on homosexuality, it caused a stir, and many people to in turn attack Tony Dungy’s (perceived) beliefs.
Much like it wasn’t Tim Tebow’s fault he was so popular that he became a distraction, so is Michael Sam. A 7th round pick with little-to-no-fan-fare as a college player, Sam has one of the top selling jerseys in the NFL over the last 2 months without ever playing a down in a regular season game, something that isn’t guaranteed to happen this year or ever based on that draft status. Sam is popular because he came out of the closet as a gay man, and being that, and a football player, clash against the narrative.
Sam need not apologize to anyone for anything. Read that again so we are clear. He is as entitled to be gay as he is to proudly announce it. Those decisions have made him very popular.
It’s likely that hundreds of current and former NFL players have been gay, and many of them made it known to their friends in NFL locker rooms. The NFL teams and players have never made public any issues with gay players. There has never been a controversy related to a gay player. No player, coach, or team ever outed a gay player.
Yet it is the media circus that portrays a NFL locker room as a place not fit for gay players. The media sells the message that teams, players, and coaches are not okay with a gay player like Michael Sam. They ask questions over and over again hoping to catch a player who opposes gay marriage or finds act the of homosexuality to be a sin, and then will pin that person up as a heathen who hates gays and the NFL and all those within it to be against Michael Sam. If you share an opinion like Tony Dungy that conveys that Michael Sam is an issue, then you are against gay people.
The irony in all this is that the league is okay with it. Not everybody has to get along, worship the same God, or have the same belief system to be on the same page as teammates. Players come from all different backgrounds. We haven’t heard anything in the history of the NFL that suggests Michael Sam will be a problem for anyone. The NFL is fine with Michael Sam.
The problem is the media circus who wants to create buzz where there are no bees. The NFL wants to avoid the bees. Bees sting. Bees represent the media.
For certain people in life, and specifically sports in the NFL, we are willing to bring in a player that comes with a swarm of bees. The players that will help you win.
Mike Vick. Tim Tebow. Terrell Owens. Chad Ochocinco. ARod. LeBron. Shaq and Kobe.
You get it? It’s not always about being a good or bad person. It’s not always about being a criminal. It’s just about being an attention grabber. Some players love the swarm and cover themselves with honey. Others may prefer to avoid the bees but they keep coming back anyway.
Michael Sam has the bees attention. But he’s a 7th round pick. If he isn’t around, his absence won’t hurt the team’s chance of winning. You have to be talented to make a team tolerate the media circus, otherwise you’re just a distraction, whether it’s your fault or the media’s.
If Sam beats the odds and becomes a great player, then nobody will mind. But if he becomes Tim Tebow, a bad football player who grabs more headlines and attention than his talent or play suggests he is do, then you get rid of that player.
Dungy’s issue (from how I read his quote) isn’t with Michael Sam. It’s with the media circus. And Sam simply isn’t good enough as a player to deal with all the media distractions that will follow him in his opinion.