Michael Sam, Hero, and how opinions are like assholes.


Missouri star defensive end Michael Sam came out yesterday. It’s been a long time coming, and it took a brave man to do it. Everything I have read about Sam tells me that he has the character to succeed in the NFL, and I hope that his teammates, whoever they’ll be, will stand with him. He seems like the kind of person teammates like and trust. He seems like a team player.

I’ve been scouring the reactions online, and I think it’s amazing how true the saying is about opinions and assholes.

So many people have opinions! And those opinions are typically ascribed to “how the world is.”

In Peter King’s column on whether the NFL is ready for a gay player, many anonymous GMs sound off. 

One said, “We talked about it this week. First of all, we don’t think he’s a very good player. The reality is he’s an overrated football player in our estimation. Second: He’s going to have expectations about where he should be drafted, and I think he’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to get drafted where he thinks he should. The question you will ask yourself, knowing your team, is, ‘How will drafting him affect your locker room?’ And I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable. Ten years from now, fine. But today, I think being openly gay is a factor in the locker room.”

This GM said he didn’t expect Sam would be drafted.

Let’s talk about this for a second…

I’ll take the comment that he’s not a very good player as being NFL draft lingo. Because obviously, the MVP of a Missouri team that won the Cotton Bowl is, in fact, a very good player. Secondly, what I notice is that this GM does what everybody seems to do: universalize their own experience and reaction.

The fact is that we don’t have to wonder how a team will react to Sam being openly gay; he was openly gay in the locker room at Missouri, and no one died. No one was molested in a shower. The guy was universally loved. How is an NFL locker room different? Every single NFL player went to college. If anything, these are more mature versions of college players. So why is this GM so sure that the NFL is not ready for Michael Sam?

The answer is simple: THAT ANONYMOUS GM is not ready for Michael Sam. When he says Sam will not be drafted, he means, “WE will not draft him.”

His comment is about him, not Michael Sam. 

This is the same for EVERY SINGLE COMMENTER on any article about Sam. When a person says, “How is this a story? No one cares,” what they are really saying is, “I am in denial about this.” 

When a person says, “Players will be uncomfortable in the shower next to Michael Sam” what they are really saying is, “I would be uncomfortable showering with a gay person.”

When a person says, “What’s the issue here? Aren’t we over this already?” what they are really saying is, “I’ve dealt with this and I know that gay people and straight people are basically the same.

Any reaction or prognostication I have about what will happen here is about me. I would like to live in a world where people speak in “I” statements and stop projecting their own realities on the entire world. 

I will say this: I surely HOPE that Michael Sam will be drafted, and that his draft position will not be impacted by his coming out. I don’t know what will happen. I do BELIEVE that the NFL is ready for him. Do I know for sure? I know nothing for sure.

Well, I know one thing: I think he’s amazing. And I wish him all the success in the world. 



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2 Responses to Michael Sam, Hero, and how opinions are like assholes.

  1. Grrr. I wrote a comment, your blog swallowed it. In essence, I agree with all you say. Your best line is “he was openly gay in the locker room at Missouri, and no one died.”

    He will be drafted and make his mark in the NFL. And I believe his teammates will accept him for being the player and the person he is. (I wish the same could be said for the anonymous GM. 10 years?! C’mon!)

  2. Posy says:

    Great job discussing one of the basic human communication mistakes that is so prevalent today. The only person I can ever speak for is myself, and using words like “we” is just a way to spread responsibility to other people rather than standing up truly sharing my own personal thoughts, which I might get in trouble for on occasion. I hope Sam has success.

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