CFL: Michael Sam gave naysayers exactly what they wanted in drama filled exit from his final shot at footballon June 15th, 2015 at 4:18 pm
If you’ve ever wondered why football is king in America when it comes to sports, you can look no further than the fact that football is life. The sport mirrors life in so many ways, and you can be quickly reminded that first and foremost life isn’t fair. Football has never been either. Younger generations may not understand this however, and that’s why football’s popularity and time as king may be at a point of tipping from royalty to part of a landscape that is ripe for its destruction.
Michael Sam has unfortunately learned a lesson that life isn’t fair and the deck can be stacked against you. Football teaches us this. While it’s the most democratic of sports on the field, it’s rigidly controlled by old men and money, much like our government is. Sam is also of a younger generation that doesn’t seem to get it that when you’re a petulant entitled character without proving something, that life can be terribly unfair. Yet, he’s proven nothing where it counts, on the field. In football, the drama and suspense is the draw, but it must be on the field. Teams, front offices and fans rarely have the patience for it off, unless you have a .001% talent level that lets you off the hook occasionally (Terrell Owens…Chad Johnson…Tim Tebow). Even still, there is a stomach that eventually sours for it and you’re gone.
There must be some empathy for and respect to gay athletes, especially in football where the locker room isn’t exactly a place for cultural sensitivity. However, in the case of Michael Sam, the drama is just too much. On top of that, his football talent has just never materialized to trump the distraction of his behavior and rather imperious and vainglorious way. Being pouty in your room after a negative comment and fleeing the only real shot he had at proving his talent on the field should be the end of his 15-minutes of fame.
He’s given his naysayers exactly what they wanted, proven to football decision makers he’s not worth the trouble and given fans nothing to cheer for and that’s the sad truth of it. Talent apparently has not trumped drama and it’s sad that he wasn’t able to overcome himself, let alone an establishment that was at the precipice of change.
We’re in a society now that change is coming to the populace. We’ve been reared or educated to the point of acceptance of all walks of life and political correctness is something every person and corporation must employ these days. Not just for what’s right, but for what is acceptable to the PC Police. No one wants to be “that guy” and no company needs bad publicity in going against the grain of the machine that is PC. It’s bad for business and it’s bad for an individual to be painted as a bigot, close-minded or God forbid racist, homophobic, intolerant etc etc. Michael Sam blew his chance when it was most important not to let an entitled mindset get in the way of opening a door.
If Michael Sam was able to play in Canada in the CFL, he would have proven that on the field, he can play anywhere. Talent does come from the CFL to the NFL on occasion. And with many doors shut south of America’s hat, he had to play where the opportunity presented itself. It seems however, that he was not humble enough or tough enough to get over himself and get on with football. Sam apparently was disparaged at negative comments about his ability. His response was to pout like a child in his room and then like a petulant child, go home and not play anymore. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, that the entitled which have never proven a thing think it’s the world to blame, I’m not sure. But the bottom line remains in life that respect is earned not given.
Sam hasn’t earned it on the field yet. The naysayers and the forces that are against him are being fed fuel for their fire of not wanting the agenda of a gay player trumping his ability. Mostly because Sam hasn’t quite understood that he’s not going to be handed a starting job in the NFL. More, he’s not going to get the satisfaction of a pat on the back that he’s great all the time like he apparently has been since he was a child. Pro football is cruel that way.
Has Michael Sam been painted into a corner? Sure. Can anyone that isn’t in his shoes really understand every motivation? No. However, a little humble pie and turning the other cheek and earning respect by working and playing his best would have earned him the prowess he so desperately wanted and for the agenda he is apart of. Instead, he ran from it. It might just be that Michael Sam isn’t talented enough a football player. No matter his standing once as a force on the football field for Missouri and in the SEC (note though, in a year of lackluster defensive talent). Perhaps this realization was too much and a comment to that was the last straw for him. We don’t know.
Sincerely though, his last chance has come and gone. The Canadian game would have been an excellent proving ground to see if he had what it took. The game up there is fast, it is a good place for an undersized or “tween” player like Sam who isn’t quite a defensive end and a little slow footed to be a cover line-backer. He could have been a pass rusher and situational defensive weapon. Instead, he took his ball and went home.
It’s a shame if that’s the case. Because he just did more damage than good. The next player to come out openly is going to have to overcome the Michael Sam “fragility test” and the Michael Sam “entitlement issue”. And that’s sad. Like America, the NFL and football in general isn’t immune from coming around and changing. But now there’s a caveat and a litmus. It’s too bad that Michael Sam let Michael Sam down this time, not the system. Because surely, many teams took him off the board simply to avoid the distraction of being the team with the first openly gay player and the drama that comes with that. The Rams may have placated the situation temporarily by drafting him, the Cowboys were willing to take a shot at signing him but he was deemed not talented enough. The CFL and Canada in general which is more liberal would have been a good place to perhaps redeem a notion of talent. The Alouettes and Montreal would have been a good place to build back the trust in that talent and showcase it.
Perhaps entitlement trumped talent in the end.