Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Michael Sam update

You remember Michael Sam. He's the highly touted defensive end out of Missouri that was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round. He's also the first openly gay player to cast his lot in the NFL. There might well be others already on NFL rosters but, if so, they haven't "come out" yet. In his own way, Michael Sam is a first.

Actually, any football fan would have had to be a coma NOT to have heard of Sam. Such was -- and is -- they hype surrounding his every move and word since his "declaration" and subsequent odyssey.

Just yesterday, all NFL teams had to cut their rosters to 75 players. Sam made it with the Rams.

But this Saturday another cut comes, when the teams have to pare down to the final 53 that will be on their active rosters when the regular season starts. In other words, 22 more guys on every squad gotta go.

Whether Sam makes that final cut is a close call. Head coach Jeff Fisher has publicly said Sam is considered a defensive end, and possible special teams' contributions will not enter into any decision making. Currently, out of seven defensive ends remaining on the Rams' roster, Sam finds himself 5th or 6th on the depth chart. Depending on their defensive line/linebacker scheme, most NFL teams will carry at least 4, and maybe 5 defensive ends during regular season games. So basically Sam is on the "bubble". He has from now until Saturday to shine a little bit more, or lose some luster. It will likely determine his fate, at least for now.

Lost in all the hype over Sam is the tough position Jeff Fisher finds himself in. He's certainly been around the league long enough to know the media will scrutinize the final cuts, dissecting them every which way. But again, Sam is a first, and the (mostly liberal -- see pro-gay) media has him under a microscope. The easy (and "politically correct") thing for Fisher to do would be letting Sam survive the final cut and be a member of the active roster going into the regular season. At that, Sam may well have earned it.

But...... what if in their football heart of hearts, not to mention after all the practices, film sessions, and pre-season games have been analyzed --Fisher and his staff think another defensive end has beat out Sam for the last spot? Would he dare cut him?

Certainly Fisher is aware that cutting Sam would bring the media down on him like a swarm of locusts. A bazillion questions would be forthcoming. Responsible journalists would ask responsible questions. Yet who would doubt there would also be an army of them with their own agendas trying to paint Fisher into a corner?

Even the national news outlets would likely jump in. Remember when Anderson Cooper of CNN spent an entire month interviewing "experts" trying to figure out what happened to that Malaysian plane that disappeared? They didn't know anything then, and still don't know anything months later. The plane remains missing, but their ratings went up. Anderson Cooper being a gay man himself, it would come as little surprise if he jumped all over the Michael Sam story if he got cut. More experts. Lawyers, shrinks, and various advocates would be on display for a few more weeks. Nevermind most of them wouldn't have the faintest clue about football itself -- let alone the intracacies of defensive line play in the NFL-- it would be a story they could run with. The scary part is -- their ratings would probably jump again. Yours truly has become convinced that for every independent thinker in this country -- there's at least 1000 lemmings that will believe anything they are told. And DO anything they are told. Scary indeed.

One way or the other, here's hoping Michael Sam makes it into the NFL on his own merit and abilities, or not.

Yeah, he might be a "first", but in the end he's just another player trying to earn a job. Pretty sure Sam himself would agree with that. Though Sam is attempting to break "new ground", there can be little doubt others will follow. Some will make it -- some won't.

And that's the thing. If it's supposed to be about size, strength, speed, toughness, brains, and other abilities to make the NFL -- then let it be about that -- not a player's sexual orientation. And let the coaches decide who the best 53 players are.

If gay players are ever to be accepted as just other guys on the roster, then here's an idea.....

Quit shining such a spotlight on them, their teams, and their coaches. As long as that continues, there will be controversy -- which people like Anderson Cooper thrive on. The players themselves are just dudes trying to make a living doing a very tough job against even tougher competition.

So how about we just let them compete, and may the best men make the cut?

Is that asking too much?


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