25 Questions About Michael Sam, the NFL and Homophobia

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2014, file photo, Missouri senior defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during an NCAA col
FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2014, file photo, Missouri senior defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during an NCAA college football news conference in Irving, Texas. Sam says he is gay, and he could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)

1. Is there a high level of disgust, criticism, hate, or anger that has been produced by Michael Sam being picked as the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL?

2. Many have described his arrival in the NFL as the equivalent, or even comparable, to what Jackie Robinson faced as he integrated baseball? Is that an accurate, overstated, or ridiculous comparison ?

3. The list for jerseys sold among ALL Rookies is as follows:

  1. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
  2. Michael Sam, St. Louis Rams
  3. Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

Does this dispel the notion that NFL fans would not accept and support an openly gay athlete?

4. Sportswriter Howard Bryant wrote:

"Michael Sam is threatening to the institutional biases that exist in the league precisely because he was brave enough to try and control his own narrative."

Is that an accurate assessment of the mindset of the NFL?

When Eli manning was recently asked how the Giants locker room would react if Michael Sam were drafted to the Giants he replied:

"We draft a football player. That's all we care about. What you do outside of the locker room is your business "

Is this the reaction most teams would have? Would management force them to have this reaction even if it's not how they felt?

6. During an introductory press conference for the Rams draft picks, Michael Sam said that his sexuality was never a secret and everyone knew exactly who he was.

"Apparently, everybody else makes a big deal out of it," Sam said. "But my teammates and my school didn't."

So is this more of an issue outside the borders of the football field than inside?

7. Author Cal Thomas wrote in an article titled Different rules for Michael Sam, Tim Tebow:

"Once, Social Security was the "third rail" of politics. Touch it and face political death. Now it is homosexuality. Criticize anything gay people do and you risk ostracism, fines, suspension or loss of your livelihood."

Is that accurate ? Is no other opinion on this matter currently allowed?

8. If Michael Sam had not made the announcement and come out of the closet, would he have been drafted higher?

9. If Jadeveon Clowney had made an announcement that he was gay would he have still been the number 1 pick ?

10. Does a 4.91 forty, and a 25 in vertical and 17 bench press show a lack of speed, explosiveness and strength that are necessary for the position of defensive end, especially if you are considered to be undersized for your position?

11. Jason Gesser was the Pac-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2002, and currently has the most wins of any quarterback in Washington State history. However, he was undrafted.

Charlie Ward won the Heisman Award but also went undrafted.

Jason White from Oklahoma also won the Heisman Award and also went undrafted.

Do these cases negate the argument that college accolades are any indicator as to where a player will be drafted? In other wards, does it prove that despite a player winning the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as did Michael Sam, it is still foreseeable that they could possibly get drafted as late as he did or not at all like the aforementioned?

12. Was it unwise for Michael Sam to say that none of the other teams who passed him up in the draft had the "balls" to do what the Rams did? Should he have waited until he actually makes the team or signs his next contract like Richard Sherman did and then talk noise to all the teams who passed him up in the draft?

13. In an article written by Dave Zirin in the Nation called Michael Sam Gets Drafted and The NFL Has Issues, he wrote: "the NFL's homophobia is in an institution that equates being gay with being controversial or political not realizing that this is their problem, not Michael Sam's."

Is this accurate? Does the NFL equate being gay with being controversial or political?

14. Oprah's Own network is all set to make a Michael Sam documentary.  Cameras will follow him as he works to earn a spot on the Rams while under a media microscope. Isn't that making him more of a spectacle? He said that he wants to be viewed as a regular player and treated as a regular player but isn't that the opposite of what's happening?

15. Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted "OMG" and "horrible" after he saw Michael Sam and his boyfriend kiss each other live on ESPN. As a result, Jones was promptly fined, suspended, and required to attend "educational training" before his return to football. Was that a fair punishment for someone tweeting their opinion? Does that take us down Mark Cuban's "slippery slope" when players are fined for what they tweet?

16. Wade Davis, executive director of You Can Play, and a former NFL player who came out as gay in 2012, told CBS St. Louis. "Unfortunately we live in a society where there is no middle ground, you either support or hate someone."

Is that true? Can there be no middle ground in this topic?

17. Is there a difference in the way that Michael Sam has been treated vs the way Tim Tebow was treated?

18. After the Broncos cut Tebow, quite a few people took to the comment page of The Huffington Post:

"Awwwww. I bet this makes the Baby Jesus weep. Tim should have prayed more."

"Hey Tim, are you getting the message now? Nothing fails like prayer."

"We're all going to h--l and we're excited about it. Don't be jealous."

"Where is your God now, Tebow?"

Some NFL players also joined in the jokes. Why weren't they fined, disciplined or forced into education training camp?

19. Would Saturday Night Live ever do a skit poking fun at Michael Sam the way they did of Tim Tebow in their skit that had Jesus offering Tebow advice while sitting next to him on a locker room bench?

20. During Tebow's brief professional career, TV ratings spiked, and Tebow jerseys sold like hot cakes. In fact, according to Ad Age:

"In terms of influence, Mr. Tebow is now in the top 40 of 3,000 celebs ... on par with Tom Hanks, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg."

Is this exactly the same notoriety that lies ahead for Michael Sam?

21. Is the media pretty much indifferent to what they are promoting whether it be Tebow or Sam, but solely interested if it will bring high ratings?

22. What can Michael Sam do to be seen as a regular player and judged solely by his production on the football field without the media circus? Is that even possible?

Peter Roff, a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, wrote in April 2013

"Tebow was treated like a "circus freak" by the New York media after he was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets.

"Tebow, you see, is a Christian -- and is fairly open about it. He seems to take the Biblical admonition not to hide one's faith under a bushel rather literally. He's used eye black to put scriptural citations on his face on game days. He prays in public and talks about God in an utterly respectful, even loving way. He and his mother appeared in a Superbowl Sunday television ad that talked about the virtues of life and directed people to a website where they could learn more about abortion.

The secular crowd, New York sports writers included, have never forgiven him for any of that. When he arrived at the Meadowlands he was treated more like a circus freak than the guy who helped Denver make the playoffs the previous year."

Is this the treatment that Michael Sam will get?

25. We can't pretend that there are not people who were completely disgusted and appalled by the image of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on national television. We would be fooling ourselves if we thought that everyone had a positive reaction. But we also can't pretend that there weren't a lot of people who were equally disgusted and appalled by Tim Tebow for no other reason except that he was so outwardly demonstrative about his beliefs. But is it fair to suggest that Tim Tebow keep his openness about his faith to himself and justify that by simply saying "he is a religious figure in a country that is uncomfortable talking about religion" ... then in the next breath celebrate Michael Sam? If one supposedly has no place in football, then how do you justify not only accepting but praising the other one? How do you pick and choose who has the right to be who they are ?