Billions of words have come across the Internet, in print, over the airwaves and between me, you, and your friends this past week as we all try to put our arms around (excuse the pun) Michael Sam and his announcement that he is gay.
We all knew this day was to arrive, didn’t we? In this world when openly gay men and women walk among us, work by our sides and engage us in daily conversation and human interaction, why is Sam’s announcement such a shock to so many?
Well, I believe we all know the answer to that question, don’t we?
To those who can’t seem to grasp the concept or accept the reality, all I can say is – get over it – move on and understand that life is what it is and there’s really no controlling the situation.
You say that Michael Sam’s chances of being drafted into the NFL have taken a nosedive because of his announcement? You say that he won’t make it in the NFL because he won’t be accepted into an NFL locker room? The fans will stop buying tickets because he’s roaming the defensive side of the football for whichever team selects him?
I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. I’m here to say that no matter how successful Michael Sam is on the football field really doesn’t matter. That’s because he’s already proven his success as a man – as a human being. His courage and self-confidence in who he is goes beyond his status as a football player.
And don’t forget, he’s a pretty good football player. Selected as the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference – that bastion of testosterone where college football’s kings reign. It’s clearly the college football factory for the NFL – the best conference with the best players in all the world … and Michael Sam is the best of the best from that conference.
Granted, he’s an undersized defensive end who is projected as a linebacker in the NFL and may struggle with that transition … but that’s really not here nor there at this point.
If you haven’t listened to the two minutes of Dale Hansen Unplugged, where he talks about Michael Sam and his place in our world, I invite you to do so (see video below). More than one million viewers strong, Hansen in this short clip says it all and says it well. Of all the billions of words, including mine on this page, Hansen hammers the nail home and will make you think about how small your opinions may be.
Take a listen and as Hansen says, let’s not talk about all the things that are going to contribute to Sam’s downfall. Rather, let’s celebrate the man and the moment.
From here on out, we football fans of the National Football League are entering into a new era – it’s going to be a time when we have to start thinking about these football players as men and as individuals and not as part of a corporate image that limits our lives and our world.