UnMuzzled: Michael Sam, The Next Level
I tried addressing the subject a couple weeks ago, but I don’t believe I gave it its due diligence. It’s been a few weeks now since Michael Sam, former Missouri Tiger defense lineman and NFL hopeful, announced that he is gay.
When I originally blogged about his announcement I kept my personal opinion fairly subdued but as time goes by I’m finding it harder and harder to continue to do that.
Now I’ve officially had it. Yesterday I read a story about a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., named Jack Burkman who says he is drafting legislation to ban gay athletes from playing in the NFL. Of all the ignorant stuff I’ve heard in my life this is right at the top.
Burkman’s statement read, “We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”
He also called into question the NFL’s moral fiber.
“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”
I sat and tried to find a way to rationalize that statement and I just couldn’t do it. If I had seen this published on a satirical website than that’d make sense, but this lunatic is actually serious. It’s coincidental this story came out when it did, just the other night I was watching the movie 42 and there’s a point in the movie where one of the players asked Jackie Robinson why he doesn’t shower with the team. His response was that he didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable but after some encouragement from his teammate he decides to shower with the rest of the team. That occurred in 1947 and here we are almost 70 years later with this joke saying it’s a horrifying prospect for a mother to imagine her son showering with a gay man.
Lets take a step back for a moment shall we? The NFL is literally full of men with criminal records. Not some “I stole some candy from a convenience store” juvey records, more like guys who have put others lives in danger and in some cases have actual TAKEN lives. Here’s just a small dose of the facts I’m talking about.
- Fact: Michael Vick spent two years in prison for leading a dog-fighting ring at his house.
- Fact: Ray Rice was just arrested for supposedly knocking his wife unconscious in a domestic dispute.
- Fact: Aaron Hernandez is standing trial for MURDER, enough said.
- Fact: Ray Lewis, a future hall of fame linebacker now ESPN analyst, was tried for murder and aggravated assault.
- Fact: Riley Cooper went on a drunken rant at a concert last summer using the N word.
- Fact: Sebastian Janikowski, one of the games longest tenured kickers, has been arrested for bar fights, drinking and driving, bribing a police officer, and other offenses.
- Fact: Adam Jones has been arrested on 6 different occasions, honestly if you’re reading this you know this guy has spent enough time in court to open his own law practice.
Want me to continue? I could. I could break down every drug charge, weapons charge, or history of abuse that exists in the NFL. I’m not going to do that, mainly because I don’t have the hours it would take to gather all that info and frankly I don’t want to find out how many of our NFL “heroes” are actually the exact opposite. These are men whose jerseys we still buy, whose teams consider to be their leaders, and who our children grow up idolizing.
Then there’s Michael Sam.
Here’s a guy who just helped his Missouri Tigers have one of their best seasons in school history. It was a season in which all the while his teammates knew he was gay (he came out to the team in August).
He also just happened to be named Co-Defensive Player of the Year in arguably the nation’s toughest conference. Judging by the school and student body reaction at Missouri he was a beloved member of that community. As far as we know, he has no criminal background. What we do know is that this 24-year-old man with a future in the NFL decided to risk it all so that he could be true to who he was.
I can only speak for myself, but never in my life have I had to decide whether or not to reveal something about myself that could so greatly change my life, that some people would hate me for. But I did play sports and I’ve seen plenty of talented athletes who never reached their potential because they didn’t have that next level. They didn’t have the confidence or the guts to leave everything on the field. Well here’s Michael Sam, leaving it all on the field.
We’re yet to know how it’s going to work out for him, but I know if I were a coach I’d take that kind of courage on my team any day of the week.
I just had to share my opinion on the matter. 92.9 The Ticket is kind enough to let me share my thoughts on sports and these are of course my personal thoughts. Whether you agree with me or not is fine, I completely understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I just have one favor to ask. As you raise your children just think about how great it is that they can have a role model who proves you don’t have to change who you are, to be who you want to be.