News about the NFL draft this week was dominated by two picks – Johnny Manziel dropping to #22 in the first round to the Cleveland Browns and Michael Sam dropping to #249 in the seventh round to the St. Louis Rams.
Sam’s selection was noteworthy because he is the first openly-gay athlete to become a part of the NFL, but he has drawn increased attention because of his televised kiss on the mouth of his boyfriend after learning of his draft selection. Although an ESPN pundit suggested that the public should expect Sam to focus on trying to make the Rams’s team and not to be a gay-rights activist, Sam’s televised conduct suggests that he is more than willing to be such an activist.
The media initially reacted in support of Sam, almost with the same unanimity that it attacked Donald Sterling for his racial comments. And the NFL solidified this political correctness when the Miami Dolphins suspended a player who questioned whether it was appropriate for ESPN to replay the male-on-male kissing scene hundreds of times a day.
Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN’s First Take, however, suggested that the Dolphins had been heavy-handed in discouraging free speech, especially when that speech was consistent with mainstream Christian beliefs. But he also suggested that Sam had dropped to the seventh round in the draft because NFL clubs were concerned that he would be a distraction.
Well, I think Smith was wrong and he was right, so I decided to send him some email feedback:
- “Stephen A., I thought you were dead-on accurate in your comments about the Dolphin penalty for a player expressing his displeasure for the repeated showing of the Sam kiss. You had just the right balance and tolerance. But I think you overstated the gay rationale for Sam being drafted in the 7th round. Even though Sam was the SEC co-defensive player of the year, a resume of being a great college player is no guarantee of high draft status. Ask Gino Torretta, a Heisman winner (1992) who was also drafted late in the 7th round. Or Jason White (2003), a Heisman winner who was undrafted.”