Super Bowl

Michael Sam Cut from Cowboys, But He's Proven the Culture Shift Toward Gay Acceptance Anyway

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The NFL appreciates the T-shirt sales, anyway.
ESPN

Michael Sam, the first openly gay college football player to get picked up in the National Football League (NFL) draft, has been cut from another practice squad. He had been drafted by the Rams, then cut, then picked up by the Cowboys. He was cut from their practice squad yesterday. He had never played in any regular season games, though he did take the field for the Rams during the pre-season.

Sam tweeted his appreciation for the opportunity and said he's going to keep fighting for a spot on a team. The cut has prompted media analysis of what it all means. Kevin O'Keeffe at The Atlantic grasps the palpable disappointment, even if there are solid reasons why Sam's NFL career might not be meant to be:

For those who are disappointed, the hardest part is often not knowing how to respond to the news. Why can't it just be about homophobia? Why can't there be some easily identified evil here, something that we can make a hashtag campaign about? What is there to change when the answer isn't "no," but "not now"? After all, "now" fits the narrative better. "Now" fits into the moment of acceptance the nation is experiencing as more and more states establish marriage equality. If only Michael Sam was the right fit for the Rams, or for the Cowboys, or for another team. It could have been now, those who are disappointed will sigh. It should have been now.

That's why this can't just be chalked up to "it was the best thing for the team" for many observers. Humans don't work that way. Sam is a lovable hero, and it was easy to cheer him on. The hardest thing to accept isn't that Sam isn't going to be on the national field at some point. Even if it's not him, there will be an openly gay NFL player, and that moment is coming very soon.

But that moment is not now. And it's okay to be disappointed about that.

But Sam hasn't really ruined any sort of narrative, except for the perhaps some sort of fairy tale that the first openly gay football player was bound to be some sort of overachieving, record-shattering superstar, and that's a fantasy we can do without. It's not a "moment" of acceptance gay Americans are experiencing right now. It's the slow culmination of a very long battle across decades that has consumed some people's whole lives (on both sides). This gay marriage advance isn't something that just happened, though it is certainly changing extremely quickly from a historical perspective. A gay NFL player coming out next year or the year after is probably still "now" in the terms of the current movement.

Sam's experience did actually illustrate that the NFL and NFL fans are ready for the guy, and they're ready for whoever the first openly gay NFL player ends up being. I agree with O'Keeffe that it's going to be soon. Assuming that people within the NFL are being honest when they Sam's sexuality was not an issue, it wouldn't surprise me if the first openly gay NFL player ended up being somebody who is already playing, and that everybody on his team already knows. (Note to football fans: That's not a blind item about any particular person. Just an observation based on trends.)

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  1. If only Michael Sam was the right fit for the Rams, or for the Cowboys, or for another team. It could have been now, those who are disappointed will sigh. It should have been now.

    Clearly the answer is to file a civil rights lawsuit against the NFL and have the government force them to make Sam a starter on a team. And not a crappy, team, either, it must be a contender.

    1. Michael Sam was a good fit for the Rams, he just wasn’t good enough to make the team. Such is the life for a seventh round pick.

      I was so pissed when I saw he got cut because I had thankfully forgotten he existed. Now we have to go through another round of talking about some replacement-level player. Hopefully he gets a steady job in Canada or on some coaching staff and disappears for a while.

  2. When I said, “Oh, good. Now we’ll all get to hear about it when the first openly gay man in the NFL actually gets some playing time and/or starts. My money is that the novelty/favoritism bias will still exist and he’ll drop six passes or run for an average of -2 yds.” over in 24/7, I didn’t think I would hear about it from Reason.

    I probably should have.

  3. Holy fuck.

    Sacks by Team

    Anyone want to guess which two teams have the fewest sacks?

    1. And who knew Jacksonville had the second most?

    2. I love how the Jets are 6th in sacks and 9th in rush defense but 26th in pass defense. Can we convert Harvin to corner?

      1. They are 26th in points, 16th in pass.

        Which would indicate the defense is solid, but it is hard to stop teams from scoring when your offense is terrible.

        1. Yeah, you leave any defense on the field too long and they are going to give up points.

        2. Ah, figured the PDEF would be Pass since it was sorted with sacks. GG, CBS.

          Their offense shouldn’t even be that bad. On talent and scheme they have a top-5 rushing group, two competent TE’s, and good #1 and #3 wideouts. But between Geno’s decision making (both slow and bad!) and Mornihnweg constantly seeking to outsmart himself in the redzone they are utterly hopeless once they get past the 25.

          The defense’s problems go beyond the offense, though. They struck out on every single FA CB except for the one that apparently goes into fugues, and compounded that by taking a minor upgrade at safety over a perfect CB fit in the draft.

          1. I haven’t followed too many of their games, but it seems too that they insist on using Chris Johnson more than they should. Ivory seems to be the one who is capable right now.

            1. That was probably true to start the year, but he’s clearly the second option at this point. He’s a fine second option, particularly if they can get him the ball in space instead of throwing him at the line like he’s Jerome Bettis, but the Jets will definitely be extra screwed when Ivory gets his annual injury.

  4. For the sake of all that is holy, can we have the NFL draft, in the last round, the “first” of any kind of person who has not been drafted yet? They can cut them the first day of training camp…

    Gay people have been participating in every major sport for years…it’s not a big deal when an athlete “comes out” before he or she is drafted.

    1. It’s a huge deal to the cultural Marxist revolutionaries. They’re not looking for acceptance; they’re looking to force everyone to implicitly endorse their lifestyle by legal dictat.

    2. Eh, I can understand why it was a big deal to people. Firsts always are. And it does say a lot about attitudes in this country that he felt comfortable coming out.

      1. Firsts always are.

        I recall when the first gay soccer player came out it made little news.

        Of course the media was caught up in reporting the Battle of Verdun.

        1. I recall when the first gay soccer player came out it made little news.

          Some jokes write themselves.

  5. It looks like the guy with two AFC Championships and two Super Bowl rings (Tony Dungy) is better at accurately assessing professional level talent than the Social Justice crowd. No amount of castigating Sam’s critics, or interviews with Oprah, will make Sam a faster or stronger defensive end.

    1. I had a friend who had a good career at UF who simply wasn’t fast/big enough to play in the NFL. This was with a top-rated Florida defense when they were on top of the conference in the mid-80s.

      Not everyone can play in the NFL.

      1. yep – worked with a guy who was ranked as a top twenty receiver. But he went to a mid-level school and was too short for the NFL.

        He got in on the Lion’s practice squad… and then was cut once he pulled his hamstring and didn’t recover quickly enough.

        Luckily for him he had a degree in Computer Science.

  6. It probably would’ve been better for him if he hadn’t signed with Alzheimer Jerry. At least another team would’ve signed him for potential fit instead of attention before dumping him when the team actually did well. But hey, maybe Jerry will re-sign him when they fall back to 8-8.

    1. Nah, Jonesy will be looking for the next new booty to come along and give him some free publicity.

  7. He might still have a career in one of the minor leagues (Canada, arena, FXFL).

    1. The Lingerie Football League.

      1. Football I would actually watch.

      2. In Lingerie Football, is the offensive line built like their NFL counterparts? If so, they may want to play six-man instead.

  8. Th REALLY funny thing is that Michael Sam coming out before the draft probably really did cost him at least a round and possibly 2 in where he was drafted. Not because of homophobia but because coaches don’t want to have to put up with media distractions that have nothing to do with football and especially not from a player who has major question marks.

    Had Sam just not said anything he would likely have been a late 5th to early 6th round pick and bounced around practice squads for a year or two before finally washing out of the league

    1. This. I doubt more than a few care about teh gay, but none of them need that media circus.

    2. Perfect example on the other side of the spectrum. Tim Tebow. Guy had a few question marks and a media circus always in tow. He now can’t find a job in a league where he actually set a playoff record just a few years ago.

      1. Tebow is also a square peg when the league is all round holes. He would have been a great NFL QB if he was born in 1930.

        1. Bobby Layne without the hard-drinking lifestyle.

        2. If he could have been a tail back in the old single wing offense, he may have been the best player of all time.

  9. I wonder if that gig with the Oprah Winfrey Network is still open.

  10. Huh, looks like the violence in Canada is kind of Muslim-ey.

    1. Cytotoxic has the hugest boner right now.

  11. Assuming that people within the NFL are being honest when they Sam’s sexuality was not an issue, it wouldn’t surprise me if the first openly gay NFL player ended up being somebody who is already playing, and that everybody on his team already knows. (Note to football fans: That’s not a blind item about any particular person. Just an observation based on trends.)

    Hell, that milestone has come and gone. Ray McDonald, who had a conviction for public sex with another man, was on the 1969 Redskins, and Vince Lombardi famously told the other members of the team that if they had a problem with it “you’ll be out of here before your ass hits the ground.”

    1. And then there’s the entire sport of soccer…

      1. Flopping is gayer than man-on-man double butt sex. This is undeniable fact.

        1. Didn’t Tom Brady pull off a magnificent flop just recently?

          1. Didn’t Tom Brady pull off a magnificent flop just recently?

            Exactly.

    2. was on the 1969 Redskins

      Sort of. I think Lombardi still cut him.

      1. McDonald was cut after the ’68 season and wasn’t picked up by any other team.

        1. Is the Lombardi thing a myth then?

          1. I don’t know. I had never heard that story until today.

            1. Yeah I noticed the timelines don’t match up. McDonald only played in 67 and 68, Lombardi only coached the 69 team.

          2. Jerry Smith, a pretty solid tight end who later died of AIDS, was on the Skins and no way Vince was cutting him. Smith was too good for anyone to care about his off the field life.

  12. …some sort of fairy tale…

    Really?

  13. I’m paraphrasing but yesterday on PTI Wilbon actually said, “I don’t have any actual proof of this but I believe he’s not making a team because he’s gay.”

    It obvs has NOTHING to do with his utterly crap measurables.

    1. Wilbon’s ignorant if he actually believes that. Even SWPL wonder Peter King had to concede right before the draft that Sam was a one-move pass rusher who was going to have a hard time sticking in the league.

      That said, if Sam really wants to play football, there’s always the arena league and CFL if an NFL team doesn’t want to pick him up.

  14. it wouldn’t surprise me if the first openly gay NFL player ended up being somebody who is already playing, and that everybody on his team already knows.

    I believe there have already been several NFL players who were out to their teams but not to the public. Can’t think of their names now, unfortunately. I’ll check and see if I can find anything.

    1. Here we go.

      In December, former teammates on the 1993 Houston Oilers said that at least two key players on the roster were generally known by the team to be gay, and were accepted by the team. Teammate Bubba McDowell said showering with the gay teammates was “no big deal.”[15]

      1. You’re taking away Sam’s milestone moment!

        Won’t somebody think of the narrative?

      2. Haywood Jeffries and Earnest Givens, wasn’t it?

    2. That’s the reason for the parenthetical comment at the end.

  15. Hitler loses war, but he’s proven the culture shift toward Nazi acceptance anyway

    sorry, couldn’t resist.

  16. Why can’t it just be about homophobia? Why can’t there be some easily identified evil here, something that we can make a hashtag campaign about?

    I’m confused by that whole paragraph. Do they want it to be about homophobia? Do they want someone to experience discrimination and lose out on a shot at a lucrative career because of their sexual orientation? Do they want there to be evil in the world?

    I didn’t follow his career at all. I don’t know how good he is. My guess is, not good enough, seeing as how he got cut from two practice squads. I get that he could have been a nice role model if he had been good enough, but isn’t the next best outcome from the point of view of gay acceptance for him to be judged, and potentially cut, based solely on his skill as a football player? Wouldn’t it have been worse if he was kept around only because he is gay?

    1. Yes Lynchpin, as weird as it sounds that is exactly what they wanted. The whole thing was supposed to be a morality play that showed how horrible and immoral America is and thus gave these people a reason to feel smug and justified their politics. When that didn’t happen and Sam was treated like any other player, they were horribly disappointed.

    2. I’m with John. Some DO want it to be about phobia, which they can paint as bigotry and, from there, extrapolate to larger chunks of society and indict millions. That Sam is gay and NO ONE GIVES A SHIT will not resonate with the griefer community.

  17. We joke about the civil rights suit, but part of me wishes Sam would do that and some court would make the Cowboys sign him and start him ahead of better players. It would be a great national teaching moment of how civil rights laws actually work. Courts make other businesses do exactly that all of the time. It is just that since those businesses don’t operate in such a public way. Having to watch an inferior player stumble around and NFL field because a judge ordered it, might wake a few people up to how civil rights laws actually work.

    1. If he’s good enough to get on a practice squad, he’s probably good enough so that it wouldn’t be obvious to most fans how he was costing the team. It’s not like he’s incompetent, he’s a AAA player trying for the majors.

      1. No. It would be obvious. Not on every play but in his statistics. When he ended up with no sacks and few tackles and no difference making plays, people who follow the team seriously would notice. It would be a bit less obvious because of the position he plays. But it would be noticeable.

        It would better if he were a more noticeable position like corner back or receiver. But it would still prove the point.

        1. Number of tackles it a questionable statistic to evaluate player performance.

          Weak defenders are the ones that offenses attack most often, so they get many more chances to make a tackle.

  18. And the Micheal Sam story says everything about the media and nothing about America at large. America at large didn’t give shit and hasn’t given a shit about out gays in about 20 years. The media in contrast live in a fantasy world where they are beacons of tolerance and acceptance in a dark America full of mouth breathing haters. So when no one gave a shit about Sam, it was a huge deal in the fantasy land of the media. The entire story consisted of the media pretending anyone cared and then trying to explain why no one cared while preserving their smugness.

    1. I could give a fuck who or what a player fucks, provided the fuckee is of age and consenting. Lord knows there are gays in sports already, including football, probably in proportion to whatever the actual number is in the general population.

      1. Professional sports is the great beacon of meritocracy in America. The actual fans don’t these players are off the field. They just want them to produce. LaBron James could take to cross dressing and as long as he remained the same player on the court, Cleveland wouldn’t care.

        The only people who care about this shit are the professional butt hurt who think every single thing in life must advance their politics.

        1. Oh, I’m sure there would be people who would care. Slurs would be tossed around by some fans of opposing teams. Some of that could be chalked up taunting/harrassing any player on an opposing team, but there would be some real bigotry there, too. Bigotry does still exist. But when bigotry is on public display on this country, most people trip over themselves to condemn it.

          And I think most people would do exactly as you say – not care so long as the guy produced during games.

          1. There would be lots of slurs hurled and 99% of those would come from opposing teams’ fans. Those fans wouldn’t be angry that he was gay, they would just be using the fact that he was gay to express their anger that he was not on their team.

        2. Nothing is more destructive or reality-evading than viewing everything through a political lens.

    2. Again we get stuck with a false dichotmy between the SJW “everyone in sports is a homophobe” and John’s equally delusional “homphobia does not exist”.

      While I doubt it had anything to do with Sam getting cut, there very clearly is a sizable chunk of America that still gives a whole lot of shit about out gays.

      1. Playing football? If the Bucs went to a squad of gay men all married to each other, I couldn’t care less, so long as they win.

        1. Yeah, YOU wouldn’t care. A lot of people wouldn’t care. A lot of people would care though.

      2. Except John didn’t say that homophobia does not exist. He just said that America at large didn’t care.

        Which they didn’t.

        1. America at large didn’t have a singe view on the matter, so the statement was incorrect.

  19. it must exhausting for the people like The Atlantic writer to constantly see people as no more than their color, genitals, religion, or other Census check block.

    1. Exactly. Sam isn’t a human being to this guy. He is just a paper cut out who plays a role in his little morality play. It is disgusting. He was hoping that bad things would happen to Sam and is disappointed they didn’t.

  20. There will be a “culture shift” when no one gives a shit and the media doesn’t need to turn the NFL aspirations of a marginally qualified player into a national media narrative

    Or rather – call me back when a Chinese transsexual named ‘Delilah’ wins the Heisman trophy. Until then, i fail to see the point.

    1. Why would you even care then? The culture shift would be in the media not the country. The culture shift that needs to happen is for the media to grow up and stop pretending anyone cares. I hope they do I guess. But I can’t say I really care much about it.

      1. Wouldn’t it have been more libertarian to have fired him because he was gay? I’m getting confused with all the twists and turns the gayz have played on the libertarian paradigm of “a private business can hire and fire who they want regardless of reason.”

        And for thinking that this new culture shift won’t cause people to care is insane. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is looking at putting christian ministers in jail for refusing to officiate gay weddings. Has Reason written about this? If anything, this sudden revealing of how nasty the Gay Rights crowd really is will cause the opposite of not caring and acceptance.

        1. People care about things and are plenty bigoted, just not about gays so much.

        2. what would his being gay have to do with libertarianism and why would using that as the reason for firing fit? Sure, someone could do so but most businesses live in a world where good people are hard to find and unless someone’s personal life creates a workplace problem, you let your bright and talented folks be bright and talented.

        3. I have written about the Idaho case, Duke. It also may turn out to be not true, though.

          1. Thanks, I’ll look for it. I heard on the radio today an interview with one of the city officials discussing their criminal ordinance over requiring ministers to equally officiate gay weddings, so it appears to be a valid concern.

            1. The concern is valid, but I’m not sure there’s actually a danger right now. I’ll have a link to the latest developments in the P.M. links this afternoon.

              1. I’ll have a link to the latest developments in the P.M. links this afternoon.

                Uh, hello? SPOILERS!

        4. Wouldn’t it have been more libertarian to have fired him because he was gay?

          Libertarians are not libertines (per se). Just because we believe people should have a freedom doesn’t mean we think they are above criticism for exercising it.

          If anything, this sudden revealing of how nasty the Gay Rights crowd really is will cause the opposite of not caring and acceptance.

          Most likely, which is probably why it’s not a good thing for libertarians to hitch on to that bandwagon. It’s a shame there are never any discussions to that effect around here. /sarc

  21. Why can’t it just be about homophobia?

    Because there are still a few enclaves of human endeavor in which there are real and unfalsifiable measures of performance. “Fairness” cannot make you run faster or jump higher, and it certainly won’t sack the fucking quarterback for you.

    1. “Fairness” cannot make you run faster or jump higher, and it certainly won’t sack the fucking quarterback for you.

      therefore, fairness must be redefined so that the slow or gravity-challenged don’t get their feelings hurt, and everybody can sack the qb.

  22. it wouldn’t surprise me if the first openly gay NFL player ended up being somebody who is already playing, and that everybody on his team already knows.

    No kidding. You’d have to be retarded to seriously believe there has never been a gay player in the NFL.

  23. Funny thing (besides gay sex) is the fact that no one mourned the exclusion of Heisman Candidate Jordan Lynch from the draft or his free agent contract with the Bears that was canceled last August.

    Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina was the #1 choice in the 2014 draft but he was not chosen as the outstanding defensive player in the SEC like Sams. Somebody ‘splain that!

    1. what’s to explain? College is not the NFL and any number of all-conference, even all-american, collegians wash out in the pros. Clowney is a freakish talent who projects well at the NFL level, provided he can stay healthy and develops a desire to work.

    2. Because the college game is different than the NFL. There are players every year who are very good and productive in college who don’t make the NFL. The NFL requires a different level of athleticism than college. Sam is the classic example of a tweener. He isn’t big enough to overpower NFL lineman but isn’t quick enough to play on the edge either. In college, he had good overall skills such that he could bully and overpower lineman. He can’t do that in the NFL. So he will never make it even though he was a very good college player.

    3. Clowney was an inhuman monster of a player. Sams is not.

      1. And Clowney spent his last season in college just trying not to get hurt.

  24. There is a player on the Houston team with the last name of “Mercelus” (I think that was how it was spelled. Please, please tell me his parents named him MING.

  25. Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina was the #1 choice in the 2014 draft but he was not chosen as the outstanding defensive player in the SEC like Sams. Somebody ‘splain that!

    I know it’s befuddling, but try to stay with me on this. Maybe (just maybe!) the criteria employed by NFL scouts and Directors of Player Personnel are not the same as those of the people who vote in media popularity contests.

  26. “Even if it’s not him, there will be an openly gay NFL player, and that moment is coming very soon.”

    So, gay AND pro NFL is the new black? Christ, fuck me.

  27. Defensive end is the wrong position for him. He’s more suited to brokeback.

    1. I see what you did there.

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