#Bleusports #SamIam #St.LouisRam
By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
The Saint Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam from the University of Missouri into the NFL this weekend. Sam 24 is the NFL’s first openly gay athlete. Sam’s reaction to the news was seen on ESPN, and you could sense his relief when he received the call. Sam also began to cry, and kissed his boyfriend on national television. The kiss set the Twitter world on fire, due to the polarizing nature of the action. It was the first time that ESPN has shown men kissing each other on the mouth in an intimate manner. Moreover, to some experts surprise he was drafted 249th overall in the seventh round. Having them scratching their heads, as to why he was drafted so low?
Sam was the South Eastern Conference’s co-defensive player of the year. A huge deal seeing as, the SEC conference usually graduates the most players into the NFL. It is also considered by many to be college football’s best conference. Therefore, why was Sam who excelled under intense competition, drafted towards the end of the draft? Why did teams such as the Giants, Browns, Bills, and Falcons who struggled to rush the passer last year, pass on this guy?
I don’t think it was because of his size, a stipulation teams claimed to be an issue with Sam. He is 6’2 about 261 pounds with a high motor. The man had 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. His 11.5 sacks led the SEC! And that total tied Missouri’s all-time record in sacks. Oh did I mention he played in the SEC, a conference that’s home to powerhouse teams and recent champions such as, Alabama, Florida and Auburn. A conference! That is always favored to win the national championship. Oh did I mention? That people had an issue with size when discussing former Miami Dolphin, Zach Thomas. He became a starting middle linebacker, being below six feet.
Maybe teams were scared away because of his public record. Oh wait! Sam has been a stellar student-athlete. He hasn’t had any major incidences of bad behavior on, or off campus. I guess that is why Jeff Fisher, the head coach of the Rams drafted Sam. He would know more than anyone the kind of character Sam has. Both the Rams and Sam’s college team the Missouri Tigers play in Missouri. Fisher may have known all along that Sam would be his diamond in the rough. In addition, it’s great he’s getting to stay in the state where he played college football. There are never any guarantee players will make teams. Therefore, if Sam struggles, and gets cut, at least his support system will be around him.
In his first news conference as a Ram he was asked how he would handle the foreseeable negativity by other players? Sam said, “Im going to run down the field, and make big plays” Sam looked very confident, and spoke with vigor during his press conference. He seemed ready to take on the responsibility that comes with being the NFL’s first gay player. Leaving more wonder as to why teams let him slide so low. All NFL teams interview the draftees, and a lot of them must have known that this was a man ready to help change American culture. The public relations representatives for these teams may have missed out on a large opportunity.
You can already see the financial benefit of having drafted this man. Sam’s number 96 Jersey is already the second highest selling rookie Jersey in the NFL. Not even money was enough motivation for teams to draft Sam!
All in all, I think he was drafted low because teams were scared to draft a gay player. The culture in American sports is slowly changing, and that’s a good thing because we are changing. However, teams proved by letting Sam drop to 249 in the draft that they still might feel uncomfortable with the gay dynamic. It may even have been conspired by the league for Sam to land in St. Louis, who knows. Hopefully, Sam becomes a great player in the NFL. It would be a step in the right direction for the league and the nation. His success would put competitive sports in a role to help improve our countries culture of acceptance.