Friday, March 06, 2015

Michael Sam Proves Skeptics 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. Michael Sam started out as a symbol, and ended up as a product.

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. 


Chris said...

Link to the piece that inspired ESPN's Josina Anderson's two minutes of hate regarding Sam waiting to shower until his teammates were done, so as to not make them feel uncomfortable:

Making a pro roster is so tough and takes so much time, that admission that you're not fully focused on it (unless you're so talented it doesn't matter) is probably enough for most GMs to avoid signing you.

Shrill Kiners said...

Sam failed the Eye Test from day one. With linemen it's easy to tell. He didn't have enough muscle on his frame, and what was there looked ungainly, as if it was designed-by-committee.

If you watch the league enough, you can tell who shouldn't be on the field (i picked out a backup Steelers OL as a dud and watched him get blown up the whole game early last season; he had no butt).

Real NFL linemen at game speed would've turned him into not only a non-factor, but an actual liability.

Sam "won" co-Defensive Player Of The Year honors on the strength, essentially, of a certain game where he got a lot of sacks ...against a Vanderbilt team with no pros on it. The fix was in already back then.

nikcrit said...

Same-sex marriage is the first real 'generation-gap'issue that i've had to confront, e.g., that sort-of penetrates the political and social vanities and creates cog-dis between the sorta soft-but-relentless center-left pieties i grew up with and rubs personal demographic bona-fides the wrong way (biracial, mid-to-upper-middle-class raised in a professional environment; SWPL before the term was invented, in terms of social and financial class, if not so much so culturally......i gotta admit: i conceal my inner-resistance and distaste for it publicly and privately; i don't broach it with friends, gop or dem, and to those few i can be candid with, i heavily qualify my theory about, being painstaking in explaining how i disapprove of the behavior and what comes with its condoning and being sure to separate and respect the humanity of those involved.
I don't think that's terribly uncommon among those with somewhat-to-specifically similar backgrounds; specifically re. the black-American aspect, i think the lower-social-class black ethos is inclined to justify and rationalize its homosexual disdain in scripture ---- but i admit, i do often see a sort-of sheepish cog-dis among higher social class blacks when it comes to expressing their feelings about gays.

nikcrit said...

meant to preface my last comment with this quote:

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.

Camlost said...

@ Shrill Kiners

Yes, you are correct.

Michael Sam is an undersized "tweener" who doesn't fit the NFL mold for a successful pash-rush Defensive lineman and he's surely not built to be a run-stopper either. And even if he attempted to bulk up he doesn't have the right frame to house that additional mass in the right way, nor does he have the quickness to make the transition to linebacker.

This was being said even before he made the gay announcement.

In the NFL you're a machine nowadays. The combine measures or inspects many different, seemingly unimportant things about you - arm length, hand size, mental agility (wonderlic), character (through interviews) joint and bone structure, etc.