Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Michael Sam Skeptics Proven Right

Michael Sam's career went as follows. OMG this guy can play and he is gay, woohoo, so courageous. His appearance at the combine generated more buzz and attention than any incoming rookie in the history of the combine. He was drafted very late (grrr, homophobes!) and then was cut before the regular season started. He never hit the field. One concern, and this was something the media pshawed was the circus that would surround the first openly gay player. There were locker room concerns, but the rest of the world was a concern. Looking at Sam's post-playing career, this has confirmed every fear NFL general managers' held. 

Even before training camp began, the problems set in for Sam's media personality. Sam was rumored to have a reality show crew setting up to follow him while he played. He decided to stop that from happening. Why the show? Because he was gay, and the media wanted to spotlight him. Sam eventually got engaged to his boyfriend. Where did he propose? At the Vatican. This was a news blurb. They called him an NFL player when he proposed, but he never played in the NFL. The media wanted to tell you about this gay NFL player getting engaged ("Just like us!"). No one cared. The latest is that Sam will appear on Dancing with the Stars. Who makes him a star? The media, and for what? he never played in the regular season. With this appearance, he must have given up on trying to make it. He has embraced the limelight and attention that the 24/7 celebrity media can offer. 

Let's stop for a moment to ponder that ESPN is owned by Disney. Disney also owns ABC. ABC airs Dancing with the Stars. Ultimately, ESPN has promoting this guy who could not cut it and despite his retirement, the Disney sports platforms kept mentioning him in news blurbs. Now he is on another Disney platform as a former NFL player for Dancing with the Stars. This now calls into question coverage of Michael Sam for useless throw away moments as if it might not have been human interest but more promotion for when they knew they would use him later. If he loses, it will be a blow to stereotypes for blacks and gays as both black men and gay men are viewed as good dancers.

This is exactly what the NFL GMs and coaches feared. It was not that Sam couldn't play, which was proven in training camp, but that his value as a player came with a host of negatives along with it. If a superstar, Hall of Fame talent like Randy Moss can drop in the draft for a couple of weird incidents in high school and college, a marginal lineman who will carry tons of baggage can drop. A player has a ton of inputs that go into his overall value. On top of the 40 time, strength, hours of prior play on film, and Wonderlic score, the players are all interviewed and have their medical records from childhood on evaluated. The other thing is character, off the field risks, and Sam's homosexuality did matter. Not just how the weird shower thing he had to do in Training Camp, waiting for everyone else to be done, but the media baggage. The media exacerbated this in the effort to find a gay guy who doesn't act like every other gay guy in America. They created a circus for his life, and proved every Sam doubter right. Did he want the NFL enough? The first time they show him ballroom dancing and not working out to make a team for next season, we'll know he did not.