Thinking About Our Other NFL ‘First’ Michael Sam

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL
Michael Sam, the first out player drafted in the NFL (image via Instagram)

It’s been an exciting, uplifting time in the hours since Carl Nassib, defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, came out as gay in an Instagram post on Monday.

In a video message Nassib shared, “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

The 6’7” five-year veteran of the NFL added that he knows “representation and visibility are so important.” He also announced a $100,000 donation to The Trevor Project.

In less than a day, Nassib’s Instagram account grew from around 27K followers to over 245K followers. Fun fact: the 28-year-old doesn’t follow anyone on the Gram of Insta.

But it’s hard to not think of Michael Sam in this heady time.

Sam, as many remember, famously came out as gay in advance of the 2104 NFL draft.

After a stellar season for the University of Missouri in 2013, he was a first-team All-American and named the Associated Press co-defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.

At that time, only one player who had earned that honor had been selected outside the top 33 picks at an NFL draft. When Sam came out the New York Times noted that he was “projected to be chosen in the early rounds of the N.F.L.”

But months later, Sam sweated through hours and hours of the draft until finally, in the 7th and final round, the St. Louis Rams made him their next to last pick. Sam was number 249 out of 256 at that NFL draft.

In the end, Sam was cut by the Rams before the regular season. He was picked up for the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but a month later he was released. He never made it to a 53-man roster in the NFL.

Conor Orr, for Sports Illustrated, writes, “Sam, essentially, gave up his dream of playing football to be the league and media’s crash test dummy, as everyone in football’s orbit pinballed through ways to have thoughtful and productive conversations about sexuality and acceptance in the locker room.”

In 2015, Sam was signed by the Montreal Alouettes and on August 7, 2015, he became the first out gay player to play in a CFL regular season game. He announced his retirement from football a week later due to mental health reasons. He currently shares his experiences as a motivational speaker.

Still a class act, early this morning Sam tweeted his congratulations to Nassib.

“Carl Nassib thank you for owning your truth and especially your donation to the @TrevorProject,” wrote Sam. “LBGTQ people are more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals. I hope and pray people will take note to this. Thank you again Carl and look forward to seeing you play on the field.”

Less than an hour later, Sam followed that with another message – this time to victims of bullying:

“To anyone young or old, black or white, straight or gay are being bullied by others please know this, I stand with you in your time of need and in your hour of triumph, I am your friend and your brother,” tweeted Sam. “Even though I may never see you, hug you, or even kiss you, I love you.”

Some wonder if Nassib might experience some of what Sam saw during his short time in the NFL. But there are big differences between the two scenarios.

One, Nassib is already a veteran NFL player with five seasons under his belt. His team, coaches and front office already know him.

And, last year he signed a three-year $25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s hard to imagine Nassib’s value to the Raiders suddenly taking a dive.

Plus, we’re 7 years past Sam’s NFL experience. In that time, marriage equality has become the law of the land. And while LGBTQ equality isn’t quite there yet, we are making progress forward thanks in great part to that increased visibility Nassib mentioned in his coming out.

Folks in the Twitterverse did take some time to recognize Michael Sam and his journey as “the first.”

News Round-Up: February 15, 2019

• Took our friends to see Mariah Carey this week at Caesar's Colosseum this week. Michael and I took the outside positions (above) just in case folks wanted to crop us out for a more 'intimate' photographic Mariah moment :)
Backstage with Mariah Carey in Las Vegas

Some news items you might have missed:

• Took our friends to see Mariah Carey this week at Caesar’s Colosseum this week. Michael and I took the outside positions (above) just in case folks wanted to crop us out for a more ‘intimate’ photographic Mariah moment 🙂

• Police in Venezuela have raided and confiscated lifesaving medications from an HIV service organization.

• Disney is on a winning streak when it comes to the LGBTQ community. A character on the Disney Channel recently said “I’m gay;” Disneyland Paris is hosting an official Pride event this year; the upcoming film Jungle Cruise will have an openly gay character; and now Disney’s Instagram account posted a pic of a gay couple getting married at Disney World as part of its Fairy Tale Weddings package.

A post shared by Disney (@disney) on Feb 14, 2019 at 11:38am PST

• Out football player Michael Sam told an audience in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he regrets coming out before the NFL draft in 2014. “The NFL gave me a raw deal,” said Sam. “It was tough to forgive them. I love football. Football gave me an education and gave me the opportunity I so desperately needed at the time.”

• Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a new court filing that search warrants have uncovered communications that connect longtime GOP operative Roger Stone to “Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1,” which is widely believed to be WikiLeaks.

• Handsome classical crossover singer, Daniel Emmet, released the music video for his latest single “Passerà.”

You may remember Emmet as a finalist on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent who was challenged by Simon Cowell to learn a new song in one hour, in Italian, and then perform it on national television – which he did.

This is a voice, kids… Hit play below.

News Round-Up: May 26, 2017

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Memorial Day weekend means we head into the dog days of summer. I’m not complaining 😉

• During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told lawmakers she had no problem with private schools receiving publicly-funded vouchers denying admission to students from LGBTQ families.

• United Airlines wrongly accused a gay dad of having his hand “too close” to his son’s genitals during a flight. United has since apologized but asked the man to “keep it low key” due to the airline’s recent bad press.

• In high school, Wyatt Pertuset was homecoming king, prom king, student body president and an out football player. Check out his terrific coming out story over at OutSports.

• Speaking of out athletes, the former CEO of the Cleveland Browns thinks Michael Sam’s short foray into the NFL could prevent other closeted football players from coming out.

• The White House may have a team of lawyers vet President Trump’s tweets before the Donald sends them out into the interwebs.

• Check out hottie Rob Gronkowski get soaking wet washing his car, serve sushi from his bare bod and literally flip out in a pillow fight in the new “On My Mind” video from dance music DJ/producer 3LAU. I like the song, btw.

News Round-Up: May 16, 2016

NFL’s first out football player Michael Sam with my hubby Michael Caprio at 2016 Las Vegas HRC gala

Some stories you may have missed:

• My hubby Michael Caprio had “a moment” with the handsome Michael Sam (pic above) at the Las Vegas Human Rights Campaign gala this past Saturday night.

• The U.S. Supreme Court refuses a case that could have sabotaged the Obama administration’s transgender policy.

• RuPaul explains drag culture to ABC News: “There are aspects of your personality that you don’t even know about until you get into drag.”

• Ivanka Trump, with a straight face, says her father Donald Trump has “elevated” political discourse. #SRSLY

• Rep. Alan Grayson becomes the first U.S. congressman to use the term “cisgender” on the floor of the House of Representatives.

• Madonna’s REBEL HEART TOUR is getting a Blu-Ray/DVD release sometime around July!

• Just in time for LGBT Pride month, Converse debuts it’s 2016 Pride Collection. We got your high tops, your low tops, your black, your white… #DiversityRocks

St. Louis Rams’ Drafting Of Michael Sam May Have Been Part Of a Secret “Deal” With NFL

https://twitter.com/HBalzer721/status/712708119793573888

Veteran sports writer Howard Balzer is reporting that the Los Angeles Rams (then the St. Louis Rams) drafted SEC Defensive Player of the Year as part of a deal to avoid being featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks.”

Many teams avoid the TV exposure on the show due to the intrusive nature of the cameras into every part of team life.

It’s been almost two years since the St. Louis Rams selected defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. At the time, the Rams were hailed for being progressive and drafting the first openly gay player in the National Football League. It turns out, according to multiple sources, that the league agreed not to ask the Rams to appear that year on HBO’s yearly summer series, HARD KNOCKS, if they drafted Sam.

Shortly after his college career at Missouri ended, Sam came put publicly, acknowledging he is gay. The SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Sam was considered a fifth-round pick at best. But, as the draft proceeded on the final day, it appeared he might not be drafted at all. It is believed the NFL didn’t want to face questions about that eventuality, and the Rams were viewed as the ideal spot because of St. Louis’ proximity to the Missouri campus in Columbia, 90 miles away, and head coach Jeff Fisher’s ability to deal with whatever distractions there might be.

So it was that the Rams saved the day, selecting Sam with the 249th pick of a 256-player draft.

In other words, the NFL used Sam as a pawn to avoid being painted as anti-gay.

Initially seen as a third or fourth round pick, within hours of coming out his stock dropped to a possible fifth or sixth round. In the end, the Rams drafted Sam at the 249th pick in the seventh round.

Clearly, Sam’s coming out dramatically affected his chances due to rampant homophobia in the NFL.

Sam has since said he wished he’d never been drafted by the Rams.

“If I had my way, I really do wish I went undrafted,” Sam said, according to WCBS. “I could have actually went to a team who really needed pass rush, and needed a defensive end who could pass rush the quarterback. But the Rams, even though I learned a log from Chris Long and [Robert] Quinn, I think that I could have done better being on an active roster right now if I went to a different team.”

Michael Sam has responded to Balzer’s reports thusly:

 <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://therandyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://therandyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/01.jpg" /></a></div>

Michael Sam Speaks Out In Support Of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance

Pro-footballer Michael Sam speaks out to fair-minded Houstonians to vote “yes” on Proposition 1, protecting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (#HERO).

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Michael Sam Joins the Call for Houston’s Proposition 1
Football legend Michael Sam is urging fair-minded Houstonians to vote “yes” on Proposition 1, protecting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (#HERO).Learn more: http://www.hrc.org/preview/blog/michael-sam-joins-the-call-for-houstons-proposition-1 Houston Unites HRC Houston #YesOnProp1
Posted by Human Rights Campaign on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Out Football Player Michael Sam Leaves The Montreal Alouettes

“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank you all for your understanding and support.”

A week ago Sam was prepping for his debut with the Montreal Alouettes.

Now, it appears he’s left the team.

From Outsports:

Sam’s time in Montreal has been a roller coaster. After much fanfare about his signing, he left the team for personal reasons the day before his first preseason game in June. When he returned to the team it was revealed that he had ended his relationship with his then-fiancé. In July he allegedly struggled to get into football shape, and reports claimed dissension on the team due to “preferential treatment” of the openly gay player.

He appeared in his team’s game at Ottawa last week but did not record a sack or tackle in limited action. Last night he was not present for his team’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos, either on the roster or in the stadium.

It is worth noting the incredible pressures put on Sam.

Before he came out a year and a half ago, before the NFL draft, he was expected to be a 3rd round draft pick based on his senior year play and being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Within hours of coming out, football websites saw his potential draft pick possibilities drop to maybe 5th or 6th round.

In the end, he was picked #249 in the 7th round.

Months later, it was revealed Sam never intended to come out in such a public fashion. He told the press his intention was to quietly come out to whatever team picked him up. That was how he handled coming out at Mizzou, and all went well.

But the press was apparently about to out him, and he felt he needed to control the story rather than let it unwind on it’s own.  I’d have done the same thing.

I think from there things spiraled, and it became a “one foot in front of the other” situation. Survive.

All Sam wanted to do was play football. A sport that gave him solace and strength in a difficult childhood.

Truly heartbreaking. I certainly wish Sam well.

Michael Sam Finally Makes History As First Openly Gay Football Player In A Regular Season Game

Michael Sam

Finally making history, Michael Sam became the first openly gay professional football player to take to the field in a regular season game last night as he made his debut with the Montreal Alouettes against the Ottawa Redblacks.

Entering the game late in the first quarter, Sam played throughout the rest of the game. The Alouettes lost the game 26-23.

“I was focusing on my assignments, actually,” Sam said when asked if he was thinking of the significance of the moment prior to kickoff.

“I’m not going to lie, there were some big jitters out there and I was nervous when I first got on the field. I didn’t get any opportunities to make many plays. I had some good pass rushes I thought.

Sam is currently signed to a two year contract with Montreal.

Shortly after Sam’s debut, openly gay former NBA player Jason Collins sent out the following tweet in support:

Michael Sam Returns To Montreal Alouettes

Michael Sam has returned to the Montreal Alouettes two weeks after leaving the team for what he said were “personal reasons.” Sam left Montreal June 12, the day before the Alouettes’ first Canadian Football League preseason game, and allegedly boarded a plane headed for Dallas. At the time, speculation was rampant about whether Sam was leaving the team for good or if he would return.

From the Montreal Gazette:

As for Sam, he was in Montreal on Wednesday with injured linebacker Kyries Hebert and has a locker at Olympic Stadium. He’s expected at team meetings this Sunday and at practice the following day.

Earlier this week Alouettes general manager Jim Popp offered The Guardian his perspective on why Sam left the team:

“I think he needed a break,” Popp said. “That’s my personal belief. I think it was just overwhelming to some degree, and he needs to clear his mind, clear his head. Do I think he wants to play? Do I think he wants to be on the field? Do I think he wants to be Michael Sam the football player? I, 100%, believe that. Yes.”

(from Outsports)

Still No Word From Michael Sam On Departure From Montreal Alouettes

“I don’t know why Sam left the team but the bottom line is that if he doesn’t return to the Alouettes soon, his dreams of playing pro football are over forever since no team would ever want to take a chance on him again.

“It would be a sad ending to his story that burned so promising 16 months ago.” – Jim Buzinski writing for Outsports on Michael Sam’s unexpected departure from the Montreal Alouettes

I have believed in Sam from the minute he landed on the national stage.

Still thinking best thoughts that this all works out for his best.