Michael Sam’s coming out is a story. His father’s reaction is a cautionary tale.

Amid the cringe-inducing hilarity of all the Festival For Make Glory of All Things Putin (known as the Sochi Olympics in colloquial terms) is the story of Michael Sam. He is a gay man. He made as much known to the world last week. The obvious significance is that his talent and past performance make him a lock to be the first openly gay player in the NFL, with the expectation that he’ll be drafted in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th round. A poignant underscore to his announcement is that it came during an Olympics in which the most visible issue is Russia’s treatment of homosexuals under the law—treatment that the ever-eloquent cadre of Olympic snowboarders  would dub “a total sicky McTwist dickface move, brah.” To be fair, that’s actually probably the second-most visible issue with Russia.. The most-visible issue is this horrifying glimpse of Russian wedding tradition.

All kidding aside, this whole Michael Sam affair is a complete outrage against the sport of football as we know it. I am utterly shocked and dismayed at the news of this announcement. What is America coming to, anymore? What about our values? Clearly, we have lost our way. There is no excuse, in the land of our god-fearing founding fathers, for this kind of moral indecency. I’ll never understand how this is being treated as a great thing. Seriously…how is anyone okay with the SEC Defensive Player of the Year being projected to go IN THE FIFTH ****ING ROUND?

What the hell kind of world are we living in?

Perhaps the real story here isn’t the outlandish draft projections, or the fact that Michael Sam might fall in love with a man someday, or the fact that he had the moral courage to throw his cards on the table from the get-go. The real story is the cautionary tale of Michael Sam the elder, father of Mizzou’s defensive prodigy. According to the NY Times, Mr. Sam didn’t take the news so well.

Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.

‘Dad, I’m gay,’ he wrote.

The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.

“I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.”

Hold the Moons Over My-Hammy, boss.

Skeptical TomFirst off, a bit of background about Mr. Sam Sr.: He’s a long-haul trucker who was essentially absent from his children’s lives. To date, two of his four children are in jail and Michael Sam has said more than once that his family life was essentially non-existent—a fact which drove him to seek the comfort and support of sports teams. Apparently, the elder Sam’s lack of involvement in the time-honored act of “fatherhood” hasn’t stopped him from forming some rather bold opinions about the future of his son and young Michael’s horrifying desire to find love with another consenting adult who happens to share the same bodily fixtures.

Mr. Sam is, by his own admission, as “old school” kind of guy. Aside from being one of the most vapid and overused pop culture phrases, the “old school” concept is a dangerous stance to adopt in this instance. “Old school” as an ethos is encompassing of a lot of beliefs, norms and mores. Old school idolizes such wholesome concepts as marriage meaning the union of one man and one woman…and not letting that woman vote…and not letting black people eat at Denny’s…and capping the number of black and Jews who could attend universities…and owning human beings.

a+bottle+of+cold+genetics+on+a+warm+day_a7385d_4885963“Old school” is actually a pretty shitty ethos, when you get right down to it. Of course, it’s different when we’re talking about race versus sexuality. People don’t choose to black. They don’t choose to be Jews. They don’t choose to be women. Gay, however, is clearly a choice. This is America, after all, where two things are certain: fat is genetic and gay is a choice. Just ask your garden variety Republican Presidential candidate.

In this complex world of ours, invoking the past is a piss-poor argument for almost anything—at least when it’s invoked to justify a view of “well…because it’s always been that way!” There was a first for everything, whether it was the first caveman to decide his mastodon tasted better well done than au natural, or the first woman to decide that “cowgirl” could ridden reverse. If you’ve tried either, you can’t argue the improvement. Human beings have been breaking down archaic, artificial barriers built on our supposed differences since the dawn of time. Jesus thumbed his nose at the Pharisees. Peter The Great whipped the Russian serfs into shape. Knute Rockne decided to throw the football.

Things change, Mr. Sam. Your son is just the latest in a long line of people to stand up and say “I’m different.” Your biggest concern should be making up for lost time and standing beside your son, beaming with pride that, by all accounts, he turned out to be a fine young man. But instead…

“[Mr. Sam] expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.” “

Take a gander at the NFL, Michael. The National Football League is literally chock full of drug abusers, woman-beaters, and drunk drivers. The biggest defensive star of the last decade was involved in a gory late-night murder and coverup and then sold his accomplices up the river for his freedom. Roger Goodell made sure to go out of his way to pay homage to the upstanding Mr. Lewis at his retirement. That’s the league that isn’t sure it’s ready for a law-abiding gay man—a man who happens to be your son.

What would Deacon Jones think of your gay son, Mr. Sam? Are you referring to the Deacon Jones who grew up in the rural south in a four-room house with 7 siblings?

The Deacon Jones who had his scholarship revoked at South Carolina State  for taking part in a civil rights protest?

The Deacon Jones who slept alongside his black teammates on cots in the opposing teams’ gyms because motels would often not take them?

That Deacon Jones?

I think he’d see in your son a man fighting the same battles against prejudice that he fought. He’d tell your son he’s proud of him, and that he’s a second-round pick at worst.

Get with the times, Mr. Sam. This is your son.

Disclaimer: Mr. Sam has recently declared he was “terribly misquoted” by the New York Times. You may judge for yourself.

About The Author

Outrageously handsome. Infinitely practical. Stunningly insightful. An Ozymandian tour de force of college football punditry. Makes Jesse Palmer's tie look fat.

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  1. Lecho LaMay

    You get double points not only for the Sam story, but for drawing attention to Deacon Jones and his civil rights battles. Not enough attention and gratitude gets shown to the Jones’, Bill Russell’s, Jim Brown’s, etc. For years they were portrayed in the press as stand-offish and curmudgeonly, and not “media or fan friendly”. The burden these men willfully carried is on par with that of anyone else who has fought for their beliefs and served their fellow man, be they soldier or activist. We act like the civil rights movement is a dinosaur of Lincolnesque antiquity, while men like Michael Sam are fighting these battles today, and men like Jones, Russell, and Brown fought them among our grandparents. I wish this post could get as much attention as the Budweiser Lie, I feel it has gone underappreciated.

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