When Michael Sam made the announcement, his intention of being the first openly gay athlete in the NFL, we expected speed bumps.
We expected Sam’s draft stock slip. We expected athletes would use code words to hide discrimination and fears. We expected “distraction” talk from coaches and general management.
But most of all, we, and Michael Sam expected him to persevere and be an NFL player.
We didn’t expect where he would be today.
Michael Vick killed dogs; the Eagles welcomed him in. Riley Cooper publicly screamed the n-word; Eagles kept him. Ray Lewis was guilty of obstruction of justice in a murder case that you do not have to look far to realize he had more to do with; Ravens were so put off by this, they built their team around him as their face and leader of the franchise. Ben Roethlisberger was involved in a rape case that led to a civil suit which was “settled”; the Steelers, the NFL bastion of civility, kept him on after a 4-game suspension (even lowered by the NFL from 6). Leonard Little committed a DWI manslaughter and the Rams overlooked it – just as they did when he committed yet another DWI later in his career.
But Michael Sam, committing no crimes, but daring to be himself, an openly gay man, is a distraction. Continue reading
On April 29, 2013, Jason Collins announced to the world through Sports Illustrated that he was gay. The hope was that he would become the first active athlete in a major North American team sport to be open about it – a Jackie Robinson, of sorts, for the LGBT of America.
Today is October 9, 2013. We are 20 days away from NBA Opening Night. Jason Collins does not have a job. Continue reading
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
— Jason Collins 4/29/13
Just two weeks ago, I wrote about the hypothetical first open gay athlete, the importance of that person being a willing participant, one who could show the same powerful leadership and capability to withstand the pressure of being a pioneer like Jackie Robinson – one who could set the example for those who will come later.
Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in the NBA or any major American sport, is that guy. Continue reading