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May 10, 2014 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Michael Sam (previously), being the 249th draft pick, becomes a St. Louis Ram and the first openly gay man (and already endorsed) in the NFL.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (68 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good for him. I hope he gets to be "the football player" and not just "the gay football player."
posted by desjardins at 4:09 PM on May 10 [10 favorites]


I hope he sticks with the team or finds a place somewhere else in the league. The Rams have a tremendously talented defensive line. You'd have to think he's a longshot. Maybe special teams?
posted by MoonOrb at 4:12 PM on May 10


Damn, I was hoping my Vikings would get him. Congrats to Sam and let this open up the world just one more notch.
posted by Ber at 4:17 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


You can see him getting the call on ESPN's video, but you have to sit through ads to see it. It's worth it if you like tear-jerkers.
posted by gladly at 4:17 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


oh thank god. there were 10 SEC defensive players of the year before Michael Sam. 5 were top-10 picks. 8 were 1st round. I know all the stuff about Sam not doing super hot at the combine, but that would have been a fucking travesty if he fell out of the draft. Go Mike Sam!
posted by DGStieber at 4:19 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I was worried he wouldn't be drafted at all. His draft rating slipped all the way from 3rd-5th round to 6th-undrafted after a poor performance at the combine.
posted by chrchr at 4:19 PM on May 10


Good move, Rams. He doesn't grade out as a sure thing to stick on the roster, or he would have been drafted earlier, but he obviously has courage and desire and he will give it all he can. I hope he makes it.

Interestingly, a lot of discussion has been about how the locker room would handle a gay player but there have been a lot of comments from players that the locker rooms have already confronted this issue. Players were possibly more scared off from coming out publicly by the media and the fans. Say what you will about the negative aspects of football, but it sure does breed and demand team spirit and maybe that helps speed along acceptance of changing social rules among the players.

Troy Vincent says he played with six openly gay NFL teammates
posted by Drinky Die at 4:20 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


(It can also slow social progress, gay players were likely discouraged from rocking the boat and certainly had to face legit hostile environments.)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 PM on May 10


he might find himself on a practice squad for a bit, but that's completely normal for someone picked where he was/what he's shown so far in things like the combine. if he can translate his skills to the pros, there's a fair number of teams who would be glad to have him.
posted by nadawi at 4:26 PM on May 10


I hope he gets to be "the football player" and not just "the gay football player."

In the spirit of this, I was intending to feel happy about this groundbreaking story until he was picked up by a divisional rival of my favorite team, the 49ers. So, good on him, but I hope his team still stinks and does poorly (his team, that is, not him specifically).
posted by The Gooch at 4:27 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]




I was getting nervous. And DGStieber is right, it would have been a travesty.
posted by Trochanter at 4:28 PM on May 10


In the spirit of this, I was intending to feel happy about this groundbreaking story until he was picked up by a divisional rival of my favorite team, the 49ers. So, good on him, but I hope his team still stinks and does poorly (his team, that is, not him specifically).

Haha, yes. I hold severe grudges against every team that has kicked the Eagles out of the playoffs so I had to restrain myself from saying I would be rooting for the Rams, because I know I won't be.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:29 PM on May 10


I was kind of hoping he'd go to the Texans with pick 256, since then he'd be the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant in the history of the league. Can't have everything, I guess.

Anyway, good for him! He's got a tough road ahead of him, but hopefully he can find a role with the team. And I'm very glad that team isn't in the Eagles' division, so I can cheer for him more or less wholeheartedly.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:32 PM on May 10


I hold severe grudges against every team that has kicked the Eagles out of the playoffs so I had to restrain myself from saying I would be rooting for the Rams, because I know I won't be.

I figure the entire Bulger era (not to mention whatever you'd call the constant uselessness of the last few years) is penance enough for 2001.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:35 PM on May 10


It sounds like the Rams got a steal.
posted by drezdn at 4:38 PM on May 10


Can we PLEASE move the Rams back to L.A. now, PLEASE? All is forgiven, honest! (I grew up in the era when Merlin Olsen and Roman Gabriel put their names on the first Audi dealership in the region... and with names like Merlin and Roman, you know I heard a lot of fair-weather fans call them fags when the team lost...)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:39 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Been a pretty good weekend for SEC LGBT news.
posted by Etrigan at 4:42 PM on May 10


WOOOOOOOO ST. LOUIS!
posted by saul wright at 4:50 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Here's video. I'm in tears. This is the biggest day for equality in American sports since April 15, 1947.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 4:54 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


From what I've seen, he's not a tremendous athlete and is kind of a tweener for his potential positions (too small to play nfl defensive end, too slow to play linebacker), but he's a hard worker with a high motor and going to a team that's loaded on the defensive line (four no. 1 picks starting), so my guess is he'll play a lot of special teams and get in on some 3rd and long situations as a pure pass rusher. Good luck to him -- reading some of the comments on ESPN.com shows how much his sexuality remains an issue to some people...
posted by AJaffe at 4:56 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


"Interestingly, a lot of discussion has been about how the locker room would handle a gay player but there have been a lot of comments from players that the locker rooms have already confronted this issue."

I think players don't get enough credit for this. I'd be willing to wager that most pro athletes on a team have had teammates they knew were gay and didn't make a fuss about it. In the end people are people and most are decent folk and the ones who aren't are kept in line by the prospect of losing that fat paycheck and/or pressure from teammates.
posted by MikeMc at 4:58 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


"Interestingly, a lot of discussion has been about how the locker room would handle a gay player but there have been a lot of comments from players that the locker rooms have already confronted this issue."

I think players don't get enough credit for this.


I said it in the Previously, and I'll say it again: This is just like the end of DADT. The old assholes at the top complain that the poor benighted kids who do all the work won't be able to handle it, and the kids just look at each other and say, "Whatever, dude -- we're already handling it. We don't fucking care."
posted by Etrigan at 5:07 PM on May 10 [38 favorites]



I think players don't get enough credit for this. I'd be willing to wager that most pro athletes on a team have had teammates they knew were gay and didn't make a fuss about it. In the end people are people and most are decent folk and the ones who aren't are kept in line by the prospect of losing that fat paycheck and/or pressure from teammates.

It's just that the reasons they let it pass aren't necessarily the right reasons. I'm an Eagles fan as I mentioned above, I just saw an entire team come up with reasons to accept a dude who got blackout drunk and screamed racial slurs while threatening to assault a black man. A few years earlier they rationalized bringing in a guy who tortured and killed dogs. I think that guy had a legit evolution as a human being, I bought his jersey. I'm a strict vegetarian now because questions about him changed the way I think about animals, but I know I would have seen him as nothing but a POS if he wasn't on my team.

All I'm trying to communicate is team sports and team fandom can seriously convolute how people see the world, in good and bad directions. People (Me) put way too much of their own identity into this stuff.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:08 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Good for him and the NFL.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on May 10


Wow. That video is intense.

Although part of me wishes that he got to spend that moment in private, it's absolutely, gob-smackingly incredible that we just got to watch an openly-gay man be drafted into the NFL and then kiss his boyfriend on live TV... and it's not even a big deal, except in the "Nobody can believe it took this long" kind of way.

Let me repeat that. Gay couples are getting married in a former confederate state, an NFL player just kissed his boyfriend on TV, and nobody is surprised by either of these developments.
posted by schmod at 5:11 PM on May 10 [21 favorites]


Mike Sam doesn't quite fit the NFL mold physically for either a linebacker or a defensive end, but then again, there have been plenty of guys who scored well on tests of speed and strength but couldn't get the job done on the football field. He's shown that he can play the game, and though all NFL rookies have something to prove, if any of them this year will have a little extra incentive, I'd think he would.

The Rams deserve credit for giving him a shot, but combine scores and the whole being-gay thing aside, it's not *that* unusual that he was drafted - he's a well-liked star player from the biggest university in the state, who also got national recognition as an All-American and the best defensive player in one of the top football conferences in the country. I bet you could go through all the NFL drafts over the years and find a lot of players who fit that general description (or parts of it) and got drafted, even though they may not have quite matched the physical ideal for their position.

Best case scenario, the Rams have added defensive and special teams depth and might sell a few more tickets. Worst case scenario - it's not like seventh round picks usually are expected to become major stars at the pro level, so if Sam doesn't make it, the downside cost seems pretty low.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:24 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Even that isn't any more than the networks do with other high-profile (but not super-talented) products. Every draft involves a few home videos of a guy getting that call and the room exploding after he hangs up the phone. This one just happens to end with him kissing his boyfriend instead of his girlfriend (or hugging his parents/siblings/teammates).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:27 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I've been watching a bunch of people on Twitter having their hat handed to them for saying things like "espn shouldn't show that. How do I explain it to my kids?" It's entertaining.

Just a great moment.
posted by dry white toast at 5:34 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Better question: If your kids are so young that they need homosexuality explained to them, why are they watching the NFL draft? How have they not gone insane with boredom?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:40 PM on May 10 [26 favorites]


They may have been schoolmates with Johnny Manziel.
posted by Etrigan at 5:42 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Multiple players who played for Vince Lombardi, the legendary former Packers and Redskins coach, say that he knew some of his players were gay, and that not only did he not have a problem with it, but he went out of his way to make sure no one else on his team would make it a problem. Link.
The pressure typically comes from "fans", society, sponsors, and some owners lack of character more than it comes from teammates or coaches.
posted by vapidave at 5:47 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Hooray! This life-long St. Louisan might just have to start watching football.

(I'll consider the Rams to not be carpetbaggers after 25 years.)
posted by notsnot at 6:32 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


FANTASTIC news!

I hope the Ram WAGS are welcoming to Michael Sam's boyfriend.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:35 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I really hope he's the Will linebacker.
posted by eriko at 7:27 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


!
posted by Jacqueline at 8:04 PM on May 10


i was a ram fan as a kid growing up in west LA. the rams forsook us when they moved to st. louis. after college, i moved to san francisco, went to law school and became a 49er fan. the rams have, and will continue to suck, except for the brief kurt warner episode. it doesn't matter who they draft, the football gods turned their backs on them for their perfidy. the 49ers almost did it the last two years, we may have to sacrifice a virgin to put them over the top. next askme: where can i find one?
posted by bruce at 8:43 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Here's video. I'm in tears. This is the biggest day for equality in American sports since April 15, 1947.

I don't buy this. So someone talks about how they prefer men, and the nfl drafts them. Big deal.

Honestly, it is kinda a milestone that a pro-tem PICKED a KNOWN gay man, but it's not like there aren't gay men in the NFL, MLB, NBA. I guess this is supposed to show that because a franchise picked a man who happens to be gay, that some barrier was broken.

Bullshit.

Please let two male players like Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas kiss each other on the field, because of their love for the game. Then I want to hear what people say. If you still hear the chatter about "gay in the locker room", "what if there's blood and an open wound", and "not tough enough", then the fans really haven't changed. The league has...the fans still haven't.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:26 PM on May 10


magic johnson isn't going to kiss mr. thomas, the best you can hope for is another laker. can we hear from james worthy about this?
posted by bruce at 9:43 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


That wasn't really a refutation of the premise, hal_c_on.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:48 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


So someone talks about how they prefer men, and the nfl drafts them. Big deal.

Honestly, it is kinda a milestone that a pro-tem PICKED a KNOWN gay man


Were these maybe supposed to be two different comments by two different people?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:53 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


it's not like the fans (or other players) automatically changed on april 15, 1947. as for gay players being hidden previously - someone still has to be first taking the direct shots, and that's michael sam.
posted by nadawi at 9:57 PM on May 10


It's true that you don't have to go back to 1947 to find a big day for equality in American sports.
posted by chrchr at 10:19 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Really happy for this kid. Football-wise, the "tweener" label has already been applied upthread - he's just too light to be a defensive end (his college position) and has no experience doing linebacker things, like dropping into pass coverage. While this is a great moment in pro sports, remember that players that go undrafted actually have better opportunities for tryouts with teams that need to fill roster spots, as opposed to being drafted by one team and being stuck with them. If he makes the roster (still a bit of a long shot), he's going to be on special teams until he gets enough experience under his belt to play a position. Again, I think he can do it - there are a few other SEC DPOYs that have succeeded in the league, and others who have not - and I'm happy a team was willing to take a chance on bringing additional scrutiny to their training camp.

Speaking of which - does this make the Rams more or less likely as a candidate for the next Hard Knocks? Do they keep the cameras out to avoid potential drama, or bring them in? (if you haven't seen the show, it's a great insight into how NFL training camps are run - it's the only "reality TV" I'll watch. Recommended.)
posted by antonymous at 10:32 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


"I guess this is supposed to show that because a franchise picked a man who happens to be gay, that some barrier was broken."

Um, certainly overdue but, yes, It does show a barrier was broken. Bear with me please.

Someone upthread compared this to Jackie Robinson and it's a useful but also imperfect analogy.

The difference is that Jackie Robinson couldn't hide his ethnicity [or whatever term you prefer prefer, please assume good faith on my part]. Jackie Robinson was a black guy, whereas Michael Sam could have concealed his orientation but chose not to. I think it's a distinction with a difference.
posted by vapidave at 10:39 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Man, I hadn't even thought of Hard Knocks. On one hand, I want Sam to get as much relief from that kind of pressure as possible. On the other, I sure would like as much information on how the process goes for him as possible.

Speaking of, I realized tonight that an openly gay man being drafted by the NFL is having the same affect on me that NASA wanted to have when they had the contest for a regular guy astronaut on The Simpsons; it makes me care because that could be me up there. Not that there isn't about 1000 times more of a chance that I would have been a cartoon astronaut than an NFL draft pick, but reactions like this come from your gut, not your logical thinking parts.

(Lest anyone thinks the above analogy trivializes the situation, keep in mind that football, equality, and Season 5 of The Simpsons are all very important to me.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:43 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new gay football overlords.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:44 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


I only thought of Hard Knocks because no team wanted to be a part of it last year, but I think there's a contract between the NFL and HBO which states that some team will be featured on the show. It sounds like there are teams volunteering to do it this year though - no word on whether the Rams are one of those teams. Totally agree that I don't want Sam to face extra scrutiny, but it would be a great insight to see how he is treated by teammates and coaching staff. From a football perspective, having the DPOY from a top-tier college division trying to make a team is interesting, though there are obviously other good storylines that happen during each Hard Knocks season.
posted by antonymous at 11:02 PM on May 10


magic johnson isn't going to kiss mr. thomas, the best you can hope for is another laker. can we hear from james worthy about this?

I don't understand what you are saying.

I think it's a distinction with a difference.

Good point.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:13 AM on May 11


Will he play?
posted by ReeMonster at 12:35 AM on May 11


(Lest anyone thinks the above analogy trivializes the situation, keep in mind that football, equality, and Season 5 of The Simpsons are all very important to me.)

As well they should be!
posted by nath at 1:48 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Mr. Sam will be riding a wave of change in attitude about gays, I think, that can only help him. That wave hadn't really begun when Jackie Robinson was signed to play in Brooklyn.
posted by etaoin at 5:32 AM on May 11


From a football perspective, he'll never be a star player. He just doesn't have the physical tools, although if he maxes out what he does have he can be a solid contributor as a situational pass rusher and core special teams player. He'll make himself a LOT of money even at the lowest end of the pay scale, roughly a half-million a year.

The good news is although he went to a 4-3 team with a great defensive line, those guys rotate a lot to stay fresh and so he should get on the field as a rookie, if he makes the team. And he probably will. The hard truth is there will be a bunch of guys with his talent level fighting for the same job. The NFL is ruthless in terms of competitiveness and there just isn't a lot of room for sentiment or public relations. Sam won't get by on good will for very long.

For the Rams I think Sam can help build team chemistry in the "all for one, one for all" sense and that is nothing to sneeze at, it's what championships are made of. I wish him the best because I always cheer for guys who love the game and leave it all out there on the field. Good like Mike!
posted by absentian at 6:27 AM on May 11


In the Rams' war room.

I gotta say, I do think Sam fell a bit further than he might have otherwise. SEC player of the year ain't nothing.
posted by Trochanter at 6:34 AM on May 11


I gotta say, I do think Sam fell a bit further than he might have otherwise. SEC player of the year ain't nothing.

Well, Defensive Player of the Year, in a year that SEC defenses... let's say "lost a step" compared to the previous several years.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on May 11


I'm not surprised at all by how Michael Sam and Vito Cammisano conducted themselves on camera. He's a 24 year old gay boy who's living in the age of the It Gets Better Project. I'm only 35 but there is a huge huge difference between the experience I had as a young gay person and the experience of young gays now, even in Missouri! I lived in Kansas City Missouri five years ago and had a terrible experience as an out gay person but look at these college athletes! It's mind-boggling to me. I know teenage lesbians now in Seattle and I'm gobsmacked by their casual social justice vocabularies and family and community support. And their hipster hairstyles!

Kids today know that being gay is a-okay and cool and awesome and they only scoff at homophobia. Michael Sam seems like a really sophisticated guy. He's making canny, deliberate choices. And I'm loving watching it.
posted by palegirl at 8:23 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


he's just too light to be a defensive end (his college position) and has no experience doing linebacker things, like dropping into pass coverage.

Do they run the nickel in St. Louis? Sam's combine numbers are unimpressive, but I imagine that, having to deal with the aggravation he must have to deal with, he may have the proper nastiness necessary for mashing the line.
posted by mr. digits at 8:53 AM on May 11


"I gotta say, I do think Sam fell a bit further than he might have otherwise. SEC player of the year ain't nothing."

Johnny Manziel sheds a single crocodile tear into the Cuyahoga.

Seriously though it looks like he went about twenty or so spots lower than his talent warranted.

It will be forgotten though when the Saints with their defense under Rob Ryan, having retained Byrd and their offense having resigned Strief and picked Brandin Cooks who oh by the way "During his junior year in 2013, he had 128 receptions, 1,730 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. The receptions and receiving yards were Pac-12 records. He was held to under 100 yards only four times and exceeded 200 yards in a game twice." win the bowl on February first.

I'm especially glaring at you Seattle for the NFC championship game.
posted by vapidave at 9:33 AM on May 11


I gotta say, I do think Sam fell a bit further than he might have otherwise. SEC player of the year ain't nothing.

Honestly, as someone who's spent the last three months researching and covering the draft, this is about what I expected regardless of his orientation. Sam's sack numbers were inflated last year by games against poor teams, and those numbers were a big reason for his SEC DPOY award. Generally to go on the first two days a player needs some sort of elite attribute (or all-around greatness), and Sam didn't quite measure up in that regard. He's already 24 as well, which makes it more difficult to project improvement than from a 21-year-old kid.

He's a situational pass rusher who has a chance to grow into someone who can make a consistent impact doing so, and he got drafted around where those guys get drafted. I couldn't be happier for him-- I think getting to stay close to home, as well as learn from some truly great NFL pass rushers, is ideal for him-- but I also think teams had very valid reasons for taking other prospects until that point, despite what publications like Sports Illustrated want to tell you with their anonymous sources concern-trolling the "locker room culture" and smearing him.
posted by nath at 11:20 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


Better question: If your kids are so young that they need homosexuality explained to them, why are they watching the NFL draft? How have they not gone insane with boredom?

How do I explain the NFL draft to my kids?
posted by crossoverman at 8:23 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


How do I explain the NFL draft to my kids?

Shit, man, how do you explain Mel Kiper's hair to your kids?
posted by MoonOrb at 10:09 PM on May 11


At the official NFL shop, the top 5 selling rookie jerseys are:
5 - Blake Bortles (QB), 3rd pick, Jacksonville
4 - Teddy Bridgewater (QB), 32nd pick, Minnesota
3 - Jadeveon Clowney (DE), 1st pick, Houston
2 - Michael Sam (DE), 249th pick, St. Louis
1 - Johnny Manziel (QB) - 22nd pick, Cleveland

That's kind of awesome; needless to say, a 7th round defensive player doesn't usually outsell quarterbacks-of-the-future or the #1 draft pick.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:04 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


At the official NFL shop, the top 5 selling rookie jerseys are:

5 - Blake Bortles (QB), 3rd pick, Jacksonville
4 - Teddy Bridgewater (QB), 32nd pick, Minnesota
3 - Jadeveon Clowney (DE), 1st pick, Houston
2 - Michael Sam (DE), 249th pick, St. Louis
1 - Johnny Manziel (QB) - 22nd pick, Cleveland

A-yup.

I want one! But I don't want a Rams jersey! But I want one! But I DON'T WANT A RAMS JERSEY!

DARN YOU MICHAEL SAM WHY COULDN'T YOU PLAY FOR THE RAVENS?!
posted by magstheaxe at 8:14 AM on May 13


wait until after the preseason! rams might be holding him to trade. i don't see him going to the ravens but you might have a different option than the rams.
posted by nadawi at 8:28 AM on May 13




We need more Bortles jerseys in the Pro Shop. Repeat, we are sold out of Bortles jerseys.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:36 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Commentary from Dale Hansen: "you'll never convince me there were 248 better college players... and better NFL prospects... in that draft."

No one is saying either of those things. The NFL Draft is not a ranking of the best college players, nor is it a ranking of the best NFL prospects. It is a selection mechanism for teams to get players they think will be good for their teams. At least a third of the teams thought they needed at least seven guys more than they needed any defensive ends, not just Michael Sam. They were probably all correct in that estimation.
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]




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