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04/19/2007


Michael Sam Zings Homophobic Lobbyist with Plan to Ban Gays from the NFL

Sam

Earlier this week, a little-known D.C. lobbyist made headlines after issuing a publicity stunt-ish press release saying he had support from five members of the House and a Senator for a non-starter bill that would ban gay players from the NFL. The lobbyist, Jack Burkman, wouldn't name the lawmakers.

BurkmanSaid Burkman in a statement in the release:

”We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

"Burkman serves as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight. In the 1990s, he served as counsel to then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.)," according to The Hill.

Added Burkman to the HuffPost:

"I felt that if the NFL doesn't have any morals, and people like [Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that stuff, I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them...This is not about bigotry. It is about common decency and civility. Society is moving to a point where we are going to have unisex bathrooms and the next generation thinks that is OK."

But the best reaction to Burkman's announcement came yesterday from Michael Sam, the would-be target of the alleged legislation.

Tweeted Sam: "Jack Burkman is going to need a Delorian, not some bogus bill, if he wants to prevent gay athletes from being in the locker room"


Pundits Unimpressed by Michael Sam's Athletic Performance at NFL Combine

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Bleacher Report has a lengthy post up on Michael Sam's NFL scouting combine performance on Monday, which it describes as "about average":

Sam's drill performances and athletic times were a mixed bag, as the former Missouri standout finished about average among defensive ends. While that's to be expected for a mid-round prospect like Sam—especially given the immense spotlight he's been under since announcing that he is gay—the reaction from NFL teams will be interesting to watch.

Teams expecting to see a guaranteed superstar in the making were probably disappointed. But for those hoping for splits that put Sam well within the "draftable" range, there is little reason to feel he's fallen off any draft boards.

The number that sticks out most, arguably, is Sam's disappointing performance in the bench press. Those concerned about his strength aren't going to walk away assuaged. Sam's total of 17 reps at 225 pounds was one of the lowest figures among defensive linemen, better than only UCLA's Cassius Marsh.

The NY Daily News called it 'unimpressive':

The suddenly-scrutinized Missouri defensive end struggled throughout his drills and tests at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, showing exactly why scouts have had their doubts about his playing ability for months.

Sam, who measured 6-2, 266-pounds, needed a good workout if he hoped to calm concerns that he's a player without a position. Instead, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year showcased the skills of a player who simply doesn't project as more than a third-down pass-rusher in the NFL.

Sam faced media at the combine on Sunday, and faced mostly questions about his sexuality, though appeared at ease with handling the spotlight. Said Sam:

"'How's football going? 'How's training going?' I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is and I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player.”


Michael Sam Holds First Press Conference, Says He Wants To Be Seen As 'Michael Sam The Football Player': Video

Sam
Missouri defensive end and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam held his very first press conference today since he publicly came out as gay. Some highlights are below.

On gay slurs in the locker room: “I’ve been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said. I don’t think anyone means it. It might be a little naïve and uneducated but as time goes on, everyone will adapt.”

Sam was also asked how he would feel about being drafted into the Miami Dolphins, this since the release of the Ted Wells report, an investigation which revealed extensive bullying within the team: "If the Miami Dolphins drafted me, I would be excited to be a part of that organization. I'm not afraid about going into that environment. I know how to handle myself, I know how to communicate with my teammates, I know how to communicate with coaches ... and whoever I need to communicate with." 

Addressing the type of questions he's been asked by the media recently: "'How's football going? 'How's training going?' I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is and I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player.” 

When he was asked if he felt like a trailblazer, he echoed the same response: "I feel like I'm Michael Sam."

Watch a video of the press conference, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Michael Sam Holds First Press Conference, Says He Wants To Be Seen As 'Michael Sam The Football Player': Video" »


Former Dallas Cowboy Greg Ellis Worried Michael Sam Might 'Pat Somebody on the Butt'

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis spoke with ESPN radio on Tuesday and had something ridiculous to say about Michael Sam joining the NFL.

EllisSaid Ellis:

"If he pats somebody on the butt — I hope ESPN don’t get mad and never have me back — but if he pats somebody on the butt, how is that to be received? If he does that how is that to be received? If he said, ‘Come on baby’? I called guys baby all the time on the football field, but when you have taken a stand and went and go public and say that, ‘I am gay,’ how is that going to be received? I’ve seen guys, I had guys on the Dallas Cowboys football team — I won’t mention names — who did not want you to pat them on their butt. So God forbid if you pat one of those guys on the butt it’s going to be a major problem.”

And not surprisingly, Ellis would have been worried Sam might check him out in the shower. Asked if having an openly gay player on the team would have made him uncomfortable, Ellis replied:

“I would. I would. People who’ve never been in an NFL shower room, not just locker room, it’s a open room. We don’t have private curtains. It’s just an open-form shower, so everybody sees each in the nude. Well if you’re looking at men as if you’re looking at women or vice versa, how are those guys to receive that? I don’t know. I don’t know how they will receive that. But I do know it would be a situation where I would go to the coach and try to work something out to say, ‘Obviously this is going to be a problem. What can we do? The kid can help us play, can help us win football games. We need him on the team. But this situation right here, we need to do something.’ ”

(transcript via Dallas Morning News)


Poll: 86 Percent Of NFL Players Would Welcome Gay Teammate

A new survey from NFL Nation and ESPN Magazine suggests that while most players in the NFL would welcome a gay teammate, on and off the field, there may be other issues ahead.

MichaelsamThe survey was obviously generated in response to Michael Sam, who may become the first openly gay player in the NFL after the draft, and his coming out experience. The most telling statistic revealed that of the fifty-one players polled, forty-four (or 86%) responded "False" to the statement, "A player's sexual orientation matters to you." Thirty-nine answered affirmatively when asked if they would shower around a gay teammate, too, perhaps putting some of Rush Limbaugh's concerns to rest.

Where the poll soured slightly was in the amount of homophobic language used by coaches as well as other team members. Thirty-two poll respondents said that they "had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season." This mixed bag of largely supportive teammates and offensive rhetoric seemed evident in the final question on the survey. When asked to respond "True" or "False" to the statement "An openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room," twenty-five respondents were affirmative while twenty-one were negative (five did not respond).

ESPN.com reports on the data:

If Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is drafted in May and becomes the NFL's first openly gay player, he'll walk into a league that seems to be moving closer to acceptance but is still dealing with growing pains as it does so...

One concern for players appeared to be learning how they could relate to a teammate they knew was gay and whether they would need to behave any differently around him.

According to one starting receiver, "Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he's comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don't think football players are overly familiar with what can and can't be said around a gay person."

Sam reportedly gained a great deal of strength from his teammates throughout his coming out process, and one NFL tight end said he was unsure whether he could find the same level of support on an NFL team.

"There is a little more of a family environment in college. It was more like having brothers. In the NFL, you have friends, but it's a more work-oriented environment. I hope guys can be professional and respect who he is and leave his personal life out of it."

So do we. Sam, who was named defensive player of the year in the SEC, deserves a spot in the NFL. 


Is the NFL Ready to Accept Michael Sam? - VIDEO

Zeigler

On This Week, George Stephanopoulos asks Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Zeigler, NFL punter Chris Kluwe, and Pete Thamel, the author of the disappointing Sports Illustrated article which featured 8 anonymous NFL execs discussing the NFL's lack of readiness for an openly gay player, what Michael Sam will face in the coming weeks.

And Outsports' Cyd Zeigler expresses his indignation that the media is responsible for fabricating the "struggle" Sam supposedly faces to get into the league.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "Is the NFL Ready to Accept Michael Sam? - VIDEO" »


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