The story of the NFL draft – one of them at least – was Michael Sam being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 7th round, becoming the first openly gay player drafted into the league. Sam’s emotional celebration – including kissing his partner – was a lovely moment and has proven to be the most polarizing moment of the draft. At least one NFL player, Miami cornerback Don Jones, tweeted his disgust at the kiss, and has been punished by the team.
Jones’ tweets led to what is easily the worst, clickbatiest click-bait headline of this story. Congratulations to Corey Dade and The Root:
A couple points:
- Let’s not mince words: It’s irresponsible and wrong to say that the entirety of the NFL is not ready for Michael Sam because ONE PLAYER tweeted out the equivalent of “EWWWWWW! YUCKY!” Just like it would be incorrect to view any of the Tweets from NFL players supporting Sam (or the fact that the Rams drafted him clearly with an eye toward history) as proof that the NFL is ready for Sam. One person’s words do not speak for a league of thousands.
You can argue that the fact that Jones was punished for his tweets – fined and sent home from minicamp – as proof that the NFL is, at least in some ways, ready for Sam. If they weren’t, the tweets would have gone unpunished. They didn’t.
This headline and story read like the worst-kind of reactionary blogging and journalism, of someone who had the headline (and story) ready to go after the draft and then fit the facts into the predetermined story.
The fact is, it’s impossible to say whether or not the NFL is “ready” for an openly gay player. “Ready” is such a nebulous concept, open to whatever you want it to mean in that moment. For some, any slight of Sam (no matter how based in football) will be rooted in homophobia and the hypermasculine culture of the NFL and pro sports. For some, any success Sam has (no matter how based in football) will be rooted in the belief that he’s getting special coverage because he’s openly gay.
Some people in the NFL are ready for Michael Sam. Some aren’t.
That’s life. Which is messy, and doesn’t always fit in a click-bait headline.