Quotes of the day

posted at 10:31 pm on February 10, 2014 by Allahpundit

Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration [that he's gay] before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly macho culture, where controversies over homophobia have attracted recent attention…

Between now and the draft, Mr. Sam plans to attend the scouting combine, where players are put through a gantlet of physical and mental tests to judge their readiness for the N.F.L. Mr. Sam might be considered too small for an N.F.L. defensive end, meaning he would have to learn to play as an outside linebacker. But it is reasonable for Mr. Sam to wonder what sort of effect — positive or negative — his declaration will have on his prospects.

***

But from a purely football perspective, his decision to come out prior to May’s NFL draft will make his path to the league daunting, eight NFL executives and coaches told SI.com.

In blunt terms, they project a significant drop in Sam’s draft stock, a publicity circus and an NFL locker room culture not prepared to deal with an openly gay player. Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was projected as a mid- to late-round draft pick prior to his announcement…

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”…

Multiple NFL executives questioned Sam’s decision to come out now, as he will be the biggest story in football between now and the NFL draft on May 8.

***

“We talked about it this week,” the GM said. “First of all, we don’t think he’s a very good player. The reality is he’s an overrated football player in our estimation. Second: He’s going to have expectations about where he should be drafted, and I think he’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to get drafted where he thinks he should. The question you will ask yourself, knowing your team, is, ‘How will drafting him affect your locker room?’ And I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable. Ten years from now, fine. But today, I think being openly gay is a factor in the locker room.”

I asked this general manager: “Do you think he’ll be drafted?”

“No,” he said

During the draft, a team that has Sam graded barely above another pass-rush prospect in the third or fourth round may ask itself: Will all the distractions—the network news trucks, the questioning of his teammates about accepting a gay teammate—be worth it? Or should we just draft the other guy and not worry about Sam’s off-field stuff?

***

A comparison to Jason Collins, the National Basketball Association player who came out last spring, is instructive. It’s not a competition, but—ignoring for a moment that Collins did it first—Sam’s coming out is a much bigger deal. Collins came out at age 34 and near or at the conclusion of his career as a professional athlete, having made a living playing ball for 12 years. Sam came out at age 24 and the very beginning of his career, with all of his earning years ahead of him. Especially given where they respectively are, Sam is simply better, and therefore risking more. Though some have raised their eyebrows at the fact that no NBA teams have signed Collins, it has not became a major controversy because it is plausible that Collins would not receive a roster spot on the merits. By contrast, if Sam is not drafted and there is no obvious reason why other than the most obvious reason, it will rightly be a scandal. Finally—and I say this with a lot of love for professional basketball—there is nothing in American sports like the NFL…

Sam killed it this past season, leading his team to the conference championship game with a conference-leading 11.5 sacks. And his teammates knew. And they—dozens of college kids!—were respectful and discreet enough that we are only learning about this now, because Sam wanted us to. “There are guys in locker rooms that maturity-wise cannot handle it or deal with the thought of that,” one NFL assistant coach told SI. Whichever NFL franchises believe their locker rooms aren’t ready for Sam might want to consider cutting everyone and starting afresh. They could do worse than by drafting this Missouri Tiger—or any Missouri Tiger.

***

Sam said he was thrilled with the show of support within the program.

“Just to see their reaction was awesome,” he told ESPN. “They supported me from day one. I couldn’t have better teammates. … I’m telling you what: I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester.”…

Pinkel said no players came directly to the coaching staff with concerns after Sam revealed his sexual orientation to the team, but he suspects that there was initially a mixed reaction.

“There are certainly players that have differences of opinions, not only on this but other social issues,” Pinkel said. “I’m not naive enough to believe that [there is not], I’m sure there are. But at the end of the day, it’s about the team, it’s about the family. We accept one another, we accept our differences, and that’s where respect and understanding is important.”

***

“I think the bottom line for most players is — if you have a teammate that can help you win, it doesn’t matter,” said John Murray, a clinical and sports psychologist in Palm Beach, Fla., who has worked with NFL athletes…

In ideal circumstances, a team may function much like a family, experts say “Teams are going to protect their own,” Murray said.

“The family will kind of circle the wagons, and protect their secret,” he said. “Because a family very well represents that concept of a unit that needs to be able to be cohesive to be able to perform well, to be able to win.”

***

What undergirds this logic is a fear of being made into a woman, which is to say a fear of being regarded sexually by someone who is as strong as, or stronger than, you. Implicit to the fear is the gay player’s ability to do violence. It exists right alongside a belief that the gay player is a “sissy.” (“Grown men should not have female tendencies. Period,” Vilma once tweeted.) The logic is kin to the old Confederate belief that Southern slaves were so loyal and cowardly yet they must never be given guns.

The mythology Jonathan Vilma endorses will not fade through vague endorsements of “tolerance,” lectures on “acceptance,” nor any other species of heartfelt magic. The question which we so often have been offered—is the NFL ready for a gay player?—is backwards. Powerful interests are rarely “ready” for change, so much as they are assaulted by it. We refer to barriers being “broken” for a reason.

***

One thing many people miss about that time [1947] — the most powerful enemies of integration were not the red-faced extremists and racists who turned on fire hoses and lined the streets while shouting at black children trying to go to school. No, the real battle was being waged at the dinner tables of middle-class families, in the thoughtful conversation of universities and office buildings, in swing-set talks on the playground. There, Jackie Robinson’s cause was not viewed as unmistakable. There, the counter arguments sounded so reasonable.

The arguments: Black players, because of their backgrounds, cannot handle the intensity of Major League Baseball (“It’s not their fault!” the more progressive would add). They don’t have the attitude or intelligence to play the game at the highest level. Some racist white teammates, you see, will not accept a black player. Team chemistry, always so fragile, will be shattered. Yes, of course, it would be wonderful if everyone was treated equally; it’s something we should all strive for, but the world is a harsh place, the world does not have only open-minded people, the world is not such a nirvana yet. And black players have their own Negro Leagues already…

Immediately after the announcement, there were the expected reactions — widespread and heartfelt praise for Sam’s courage and the more limited gay slurs and dismissals mostly hidden behind anonymity and Twitter handles. But, like with Jackie Robinson, the battle is not waged on the high or low ground of the extremes. It is waged in the center. And in the center you can see that the Michael Sam story — and the story of how we see gay people in 2014 — is extremely complicated.

***

We will find out who is expressing support for Sam as just a convenient public stance, the pat vocabulary of acceptance pandering to the corporate sponsors, and who is willing to genuinely change the culture of their organizations beyond the cameras.

Make no mistake, Sam will be under pressure from gays, too. The danger with aligning himself with any broad-brushed “community” is that pretty soon some people will be telling him there is a right and a wrong way to be gay. He will find out what all public performers in all fields know, that an audience can be highly proprietary, sometimes in an ugly way. As Jodie Foster once wrote in Esquire, “I can be rejected for physical reality, the audience’s perception of who I am. Consequently, I become the property of my judges.”

***

Michael Sam is no longer just auditioning for an NFL roster spot; he’s also angling for a monumental place in American history. How will current, closeted NFL players feel about this in the coming months? Will the Kleig lights now shining on Sam move them to one-up him as the first?…

Chances are high there is a star-caliber closeted NFL player watching Sam’s story unfold with a mixture of admiration and jealously. Gay athletes have just as big of egos as straight ones, and NFL veterans risk a lot to earn and keep jobs in their industry. They often show rookies their place, whether through hazing rituals, or agreeing to CBA terms which have ensured players in the first years of their career earn less than their elders no matter how good they are. Now that Sam has shown that on the whole society is warm to the idea of a gay NFL player, it doesn’t make sense that someone of Aaron Rodgers’s stature would voluntarily relinquish a form of immortality to some unproven pup.

Unprecedented cross-cultural appeal as the first openly gay—and actually good—player in America’s top sport is a valuable possession. It is bouncing Michael Sam’s way, but remains very much in play.

***

This is getting tiring. This can end TODAY with one quality starter on one football or basketball team pulling a Neil Patrick Harris and then going on about his business. By coming out and being so admirably open, Sam has made this process even easier. He’s the perfect ambassador. And yet, if no one joins him, he still might find himself on the discard pile. And if that happens, the chance will be lost again. Players like Sam will continue to stick their necks out and get guillotined as long as it remains easy for GMs to collectively blacklist a gay player who is either a) a marginal talent or b) can easily be portrayed as a marginal talent.

Now that Sam is here, someone else needs to step forward who cannot be so easily ignored, who will extract a bare shred of courage from his team’s GM. Someone has to make what will, in the end, be a relatively small sacrifice given that fans are dicks to athletes no matter who they are or how they perform. Someone, a star, needs to break through the ceiling so that Sam won’t break his f***ing neck crashing into it. All it takes it one other guy. One other voice. Michael Sam shouldn’t have to do this alone because he ISN’T alone, and we all know it.

***

The voice on the other end of the line produced a knowing laugh, one confident in the knowledge gleaned from 15 years in NFL locker rooms. In Matt Birk’s estimation, the players’ sanctuary is the last place to expect problems for Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, whose historic announcement Sunday makes it likely he will be the first openly gay man to play in the NFL.

“I would put it like this,” Birk said. “Over the years I can think of 10, maybe 12 guys that I played with that I know are gay. Everyone on the team knew they were gay, and they knew that everyone knew they were gay. They didn’t take that step of going public, but it never was an issue in my experiences.

“I get why this is an issue, especially when you look at the bullying story with [Miami Dolphins offensive linemen] Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. I get why people would be concerned. But I think we really underestimate football players sometimes.”

***


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Comment pages: 1 6 7 8

renalin on February 11, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Just what I was going to have for my next formal dinner.

crankyoldlady on February 11, 2014 at 7:13 AM

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”…

Yes, because openly declaring that one engages in sodomy is so…progressive.

The thing that gets me the most about these pundits is that they actually seem to think that this is a sign of societal and cultural progress, not realizing that it’s indicative of our societal decay.

Cleombrotus on February 11, 2014 at 7:13 AM

just curious, why are all the state dinners held outside in heated tents instead of inside during obama’s term?

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 6:25 AM

It’s my guess they’ve pretty much trashed the White House and don’t want anybody to see it. Nobody goes in there but them and their cronies after all.

crankyoldlady on February 11, 2014 at 7:19 AM

just curious, why are all the state dinners held outside in heated tents instead of inside during obama’s term?

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 6:25 AM

State dinners are a big deal here in DC. The list of guests are always reported in the WaPo. You’re “somebody” if you get one of those handwritten (by those essential caligraphers who stayed employed during the shutdown) invitations. The East Room only holds so many people. The tents, a lot more.

Plus, you wouldn’t put Mooch’s lobster trough inside, now would you?

Happy Nomad on February 11, 2014 at 7:24 AM

I played football at the Division 1 level… it really all depends on the player

Star player and team leader like Michael Sam? I guess my team would tolerate it. Be OK with it? That’s going to far. But tolerate it and mind our own business? Sure

But what about a 3rd string backup? Or a white, unathletic walk on like I was? That is where problems would occur.

I think its one thing for a key, star player or team leader to come out as gay. But the average player, or the bench warmer, that is where problems would start.

Also have to wonder how well it would go over if the player was black vs. white.

tcufrog on February 11, 2014 at 7:24 AM

God Bless y’all. – KJ

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Prayers for you and Mrs. KJ. Be glad you’re not having to deal with one of those Obamacare “good deals” where nothing is covered.

Happy Nomad on February 11, 2014 at 7:28 AM

Lol col….you’re probably right
Lol HN..good point

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:31 AM

I think its one thing for a key, star player or team leader to come out as gay. But the average player, or the bench warmer, that is where problems would start.

tcufrog on February 11, 2014 at 7:24 AM

There is no way that I would pick Sam in the draft. Not because he came out as gay but because of the self-generated media hype he created. You want your team to stay focused on football and that will be impossible so long as the narrative is about Sam’s sexual orientation.

Happy Nomad on February 11, 2014 at 7:33 AM

Msdnc….. the 24/7 Christie channel

Wow nothing else matters

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:33 AM

In 2006, Temple received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for having “lived the most remarkable life, as the brilliant performer the world came to know when she was just a child to the dedicated public servant who has served her country both at home and abroad for 30 years.”

These claims do not seem excessive. This was one child star who did not self-destruct through booze, drugs or sex, who kept faith with the public, loved her country and justly became the world-wide cinematic legend and American icon that she remains today.

Flora Duh on February 11, 2014 at 7:34 AM

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:33 AM

Still subjecting yourself that torture I see. :-)

Flora Duh on February 11, 2014 at 7:37 AM

Wow, first I heard of this story!

HonestLib on February 11, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Msdnc….. the 24/7 Christie channel

Wow nothing else matters

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:33 AM

The do beclown themselves, don’t they?

Naturally Curly on February 11, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Hey Flora…. yep….I’m just not digging the other shows

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:40 AM

Yepper NC

McCaskill feels real good about the mid terms

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:42 AM

KJ praying for you and your wife.

Brat on February 11, 2014 at 7:47 AM

Flora Duh on February 11, 2014 at 7:34 AM

Good morning Flora.
I loved Shirley, especially the movies she made as a teenager.

My favorite dance scene.

Brat on February 11, 2014 at 7:57 AM

I think its one thing for a key, star player or team leader to come out as gay. But the average player, or the bench warmer, that is where problems would start.

Also have to wonder how well it would go over if the player was black vs. white.

tcufrog on February 11, 2014 at 7:24 AM

Every bench warmer in the NFL was a star player in college.
Every bench warmer in college was a star player in high school.

ConstantineXI on February 11, 2014 at 7:57 AM

McCaskill feels real good about the mid terms

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 7:42 AM

Well of course she does. She was re-elected in 2012 thanks to the stupidity of Todd Akin and his buddy Huckabee. She doesn’t have to defend her Obamacare vote again until 2018.

Happy Nomad on February 11, 2014 at 8:01 AM

Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was projected as a mid- to late-round draft pick prior to his announcement…

This just dawned on me: This guy beat out that DE from South Carolina, Jadeveon Clowney? If so, the voting must have been rigged. Clowney is unbelievable.

BuckeyeSam on February 11, 2014 at 8:04 AM

crankyoldlady on February 11, 2014 at 7:13 AM

where’s the arugla though?

renalin on February 11, 2014 at 8:09 AM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Prayers and positive thoughts for you and your beloved, KJ.

Fallon on February 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM

True HN

cmsinaz on February 11, 2014 at 8:14 AM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Prayers ascending…

OmahaConservative on February 11, 2014 at 9:16 AM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Prayers and good wishes going your way KJ :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Was under the weather last night, doing good now tho, I sure do miss QOTD when I can’t make it here!

God Bless all those who grace these pages, every day :)

Later peeps!

** swoosh **

Scrumpy on February 11, 2014 at 9:18 AM

So sorry Michael Sam, but this story will never top the Manti T’eo fake girlfriend freak show.

monalisa on February 11, 2014 at 9:55 AM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Prayers for the bride, A.

hawkdriver on February 11, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Anti-Control on February 11, 2014 at 2:01 AM

That I’m cold and heartless is besides the point. I am accurate with regards to PETA. They are hypocrites and deserve ridicule.

mizflame98 on February 11, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Well wishes kingsjester!

Bmore on February 11, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Narcissist in cleats. “Look at me!”

Mason on February 11, 2014 at 12:18 PM

prayers for brother KJ and his bride..

and thanks for yet another “my take” must read…

renalin on February 11, 2014 at 7:10 AM

that menu has a larger carbon footprint
than I make in a year….well traveled foods..
was Whole Foods near the WH closed for snow er something??

going2mars on February 11, 2014 at 1:31 PM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Praying for you and your bride KJ

kcewa on February 11, 2014 at 2:05 PM

mizflame98 on February 11, 2014 at 10:26 AM

well worth the 30 minutes…great points.. and funny..

I got attacked by PETA at the 555 restaurant on linden st in long beach…its a great steak house.. just off ocean blvd..
screaming…signs.. bullhorns….dreads.. the whole bit..
I requested a patio table and ate the biggest bone in rib eye on the menu..
ate it as slowly as I could so they could all enjoy each bite with me..
was fun…

going2mars on February 11, 2014 at 2:14 PM

FDR once said America is fine as long as Shirley Temple is alive.

Ironic that she dies during an obama presidency.

renalin on February 11, 2014 at 6:21 AM

Shirley Temple & Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – Tap Dancing

kcewa on February 11, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Dude.

I hope the Steelers draft him. Their defense sucked this season.

jaime on February 10, 2014 at 10:57 PM

That would be great. The defense would really suck and they could change their name to Pittsburg Kneelers.

Wade on February 11, 2014 at 2:26 PM

http://www.shirleytemple.com/

the official web page…
with the familys note on her passing..
national treasure to be sure..

going2mars on February 11, 2014 at 2:29 PM

arguably one of the most famous American woman in the last 100 years..
Shirley temple….prayers to her family

going2mars on February 11, 2014 at 2:38 PM

5 Questions About the Possibility of an Openly Gay NFL Player
Michael Brown | Feb 11, 2014

In case you missed it this past weekend, the big news in sports had nothing to do with the Winter Olympics or with athletic triumphs and defeats. Instead, it was the news that a top college football player, Michael Sam, who is expected to be drafted in the NFL, declared that he is gay. It was deemed to be such big news that it was even the lead story on some non-sports news websites.

Here are five questions to help put this event in perspective.

1. What’s the big deal? In the overall scheme of things, I’m quite aware of the significance of this announcement. After all, this is the National Football League, the ultimate, testosterone driven, men’s sport, where gay slurs in the locker room are still common. And if the NFL can accept an openly gay player, then “tolerance” has surely triumphed.

Looked at from another angle, all the hoopla surrounding the announcement is bizarre. After all, what Sam has declared is, “I’m attracted to other men,” and for this, he has become a national hero.

What? This is something to be celebrated? Announcing you are same-sex attracted is a major media event?

Sam has basically said, “There is the possibility that I could be physically or romantically attracted to a coach or teammate,” and for this, he is the new Jackie Robinson. (No, wait. The new Jackie Robinson was Jason Collins. For more on Collins, see below.)

2. Is it homophobic to be uncomfortable around an openly gay teammate in the locker room? Certainly, any player who admitted to being uncomfortable in the locker room with Michael Sam would be branded homophobic, but can a male athlete in the prime of physical life be faulted if he feels uncomfortable walking around naked in the presence of another gay athlete?

I don’t doubt the players who say that their focus is on sports, not sex, and I don’t doubt that many gay athletes have never given a hint of their sexuality to their heterosexual teammates.

But once they have made their announcement, how can everyone be expected to feel completely comfortable? And with the “bromance” type of close relationships that many players enjoy, would they be as physical and free with a homosexual teammate?

And since NFL players are hardly known for their sexual purity – with many notable exceptions – is it homophobic to think that Sam’s hormones might be raging for men the way the other players’ hormones rage for women?

3. Was Michael Sam’s announcement selfless or selfish? Many have hailed Sam’s coming out as courageous, honest, and unselfish, apparently meaning that he did this for other young athletes in other sports, even though it put him in the media spotlight.

Looked at from another angle, it was more of a selfish act, and not only in the sense that Sam is suddenly a national celebrity. (As of February 10th, a Google search for his name yielded more than three million hits. Just one week ago, his numbers would have been a fraction of this.) What I mean is that professional football is all about the team, and the focus must be on making a joint sacrifice in order to win rather than drawing attention to oneself.

But Sam has now put his own desires – wanting to be out and proud – above the good of the team, saying to everyone else, “Whether you’re uncomfortable or not, and whether this helps the team’s synergy or not, this is who I am.”

4. Has this helped or hurt his chances in the NFL? Some unnamed NFL executives and scouts have confided that Sam’s announcement has hurt his stock since it will bring a media circus that coaches don’t want and since it could affect locker room dynamics. And you can be assured that NFL owners are not likely to waste a top draft pick to prove they are not homophobic.

It’s also interesting that the NBA’s Jason Collins, never an outstanding player and admittedly at the end of his career, was not picked up by any NBA team last year after coming out as gay. (Oh, you didn’t read that in the news? How interesting.)

Does this contradict my answer to question 3? On the one hand, yes, since his announcement could hurt his level of entry into the league; on the other hand, no, since he has decided that the most important thing is that the world knows that he is attracted to the same sex.

5. Was it really necessary to come out? It has been reported that Sam’s sexuality was an open secret in his home town and I do understand the desire for a person to say to the world, “This is who I am.” I also understand his desire to live his life openly rather than secretly. After all, the right to come out of the closet is the most fundamental aspect of gay activism.

But since he is about to be drafted by the NFL, if his sexual and romantic attractions will not be brought into the locker room and will have nothing to do with his football career, why make it an issue now?

Why can’t he just play the game, keep his private life private (as many public figures do), and when his career is over, if he wants to tell the whole world he’s gay, he can do so then.

Instead, he has made his romantic and sexual attractions the dominant sports issue of the day. Is this something to be celebrated?

RightWingConservative on February 11, 2014 at 4:50 PM

kingsjester on February 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

…got here late…thoughts are with you and the bride kingsjester.

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Comment pages: 1 6 7 8