I wonder if I ever thought about stuff like this when I was 10 years old? My daughter amazes me every day with something new. Good grades on a test, a piece of artwork, writing short stories, creating pieces of clothing for her dolls, sewing, singing, writing songs and now sports opinions. I don't know when it happened. Somewhere between playing with dolls, Finding Nemo and watching Dora the Explorer, my baby girl grew up.
I remember just a couple of years ago waiting for the school bus on cold winter mornings, with the heat blazing in the car, we could never agree on a radio station to listen to. I wanted to wake up with Boomer and Carton on WFAN-NY and she wanted to wake up with Taylor Swift. Some mornings we would waste time joking around by changing the channel when the other wasn't paying attention. But on most mornings, there I was at 8am singing Taylor Swift like I was trying to earn a gold ticket to Hollywood.
Somewhere along the way, my daughter, my little girl, my princess…became a fan. Not a die hard sports fan like her old man, but a fan of Boomer and Carton. I mean she cheers for Daddy's teams, she takes an interest while the game is on and even gets loud at times. It's really frigin adorable. But for some reason, this ten year old girl has to have Boomer and Carton on every morning now. Before I even get the coffee going in the morning, she has on CBS sports network, and she is in front of the TV with her cereal of choice, laughing and talking about the many topics that are discussed in the unique way Boomer and Carton discuss them.
Well on this particular day, Daddy was exhausted. Rough night's sleep. All I wanted was coffee, preferably intravenously. I had heard the story break the night before and honestly, I didn't give a hoot. I have my opinions on it, but we will get to those later. For now, imagine you had no sleep, you are the epitome of a dead man walking. The coffee is brewing, you can smell it, light and sweet salvation. You get the mug ready, cream and sugar just waiting to mix in with that java. You go to pour your coffee and you hear this from your ten year old daughter. "Dad, why should it matter that Michael Sam is gay if he is good at football, he should be drafted." <
You know when you hear something, but you don't really hear it? The first thing I thought was, friggin Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
After I cleaned up the spilled coffee and applied aloe to my burnt hand, I finally had the chance to sit down and discuss this difficult topic with a ten year old girl. A girl who is far beyond the decade she has lived in terms of compassion, understanding, tolerance, love and intelligence. Sometimes I wish I could see the world through her beautiful brown eyes. When I sat down, I ignorantly thought she had forgot about the question, I should have known better.
"Dad, did you hear me before? Why should it matter that Michael Sam is gay? If he is good at football, he should be drafted…right?"
The moment of truth. What would you do? How do you answer your child when they ask such a deep question? I thought about it for a second and stalled with a sip of Joe. She is way too smart and knows me too well for me to bullshit her. I was trapped. You see, Adriana and I, we have an agreement and I must adhere to what we have mutually agreed upon. No lies…ever.
"Well sweetie, it's a little more complicated than just that."
"But it shouldn't be Dad, if he is good they should draft him."
"Well there is a lot more than that when it comes to drafting a player Adriana, his ability on the field isn't the only thing that matters. How a player conducts himself off the field can be helpful and hurtful, depending on the situation."
"But Dad, Carton just said he was a good student, all the players on the college team knew about him being gay and he was the SEC player of the year on defense."
Darn you Carton!!
"Well, Carton is right. He was all those things, but in college. The NFL is a little different though sweetheart."
"That's sad and ignorant..." You believe this frigin kid?…she continued. "what he does off the field shouldn't matter…" It was like she knew I was being honest and yet holding back at the same time…she knew my weakness and she attacked. "Dad, would you want the Giants to draft him?"
The million dollar question, would I want the Giants to draft Michael Sam? There are two answers to this question for two different reasons. The first I had to give right then and there, with this innocent and befuddled face staring up at me. She couldn't understand why Sam being a gay man, not that there is anything wrong with that, had any affect on him being drafted to the NFL.
I looked her square in the face and put my GM hat on. I took a sip a coffee, swallowed and calmly said…"No."
The bleeding heart in her came pouring out all at once. I must admit, it was fun to debate it with her, going wit for wit with her old man will do her good in years to come…but not on this day. I was straight up and honest with her…here is what I said.
"Why not Dad? And it has to be a good reason, not just because he is gay."
"Distraction? Why would he be a distraction Dad? What does that even mean Dad?"
"Well, whatever team he goes to, all those players are going to be asked questions everyday about how they feel about Michael Sam? How did he do today? This week? His first preseason game? And on and on and on it will go. And that Adriana, is not good for a team to have to deal with. Distractions for a football team are like "creepers" in MineCraft…not good."
Needless to say, she did not like my answer at all and I wasn't sure I did either. We walked to the bus stop and exchanged our butterfly kisses before she was whisked away to school. I was left to think about the answer I gave her all day long. The more I thought about it and the more I thought about Adriana, and her passionate reaction to Michael Sam being gay, not that there is anything wrong with that, the more the answer didn't sit well with me.
Distraction? Was that the only thing I had to base my argument on? Sam shouldn't be drafted, not because of his talent, but because his teammates may have to answer questions about his sexual preference? Seems harsh, if the guy can play, the guy can play, right? Co-SEC player of the year is one hell of an accomplishment, isn't it?
I was determined to have a different answer for Adriana by the time she got off the bus. A better answer than the distraction one I gave earlier.
All I knew about Michael Sam was what I heard on TV after his announcement. CO-SEC defensive player of the year, team leader, projected 4th or 5th round pick, and he is gay. First off, Sam should be given a lot of credit. He came out to his Missouri teammates at the beginning of the season and not only got the team to rally around him, but the entire state of Missouri. His leadership and confidence in terms of coming out, before he was, uh, outted I guess, should be applauded. And then the applause needs to stop.
See, I like to play devil's advocate, and thanks to my daughter and her inquisition, it got me thinking. Should the Giants draft Sam? Well they need a lot of help on defense, so if he can play why not. Let me tell you why not.
Michael Sam is going to be a non-factor in the NFL, not because he is gay, but because when you look at the numbers, he is not that good.
During my research on Sam, I found something interesting. Greg A. Bedard who is a writer for Sports Illustrated wrote this article on Michael Sam.
Some of the key points of the article had me thinking differently about Sam.
1. He doesn't have a NFL position: He can't play outside linebacker in a 4-3 or a 3-4 defensive scheme, and he can't stop the run. He gets cut by lineman and stood up by fullbacks. Sam also brings no value via special teams, something most late round picks need to thrive in. It has nothing to do with him being gay.
2. He can't get to the QB: But James the guy had 11 sacks, what are you talking about? Let's look closer than numbers with the help of Mr. Bedard…"Of his first 10 sacks of the season, only once was he engaged with a blocker and defeated him (first sack against Vanderbilt). The rest were seven speed rushes around the end against inferior competition, and two when he wasn't blocked." Need more evidence…"Sam showed little ability to convert speed to power on his rush, which is one of the most important traits in a good NFL rusher". It has nothing to do with him being gay.
3. He is the 4th best prospect on that Missouri Defense. Take it away Mr. Bedard…."Right end Kony Ealy, who could be a top-10 pick this year, drew much more attention from offenses and had to face the opponent's best tackle, on the left side of the offensive line. Markus Golden, Sam's backup on the left side, will be drafted higher than Sam when he enters the draft a year from now. Golden could be a star. He is more athletic and faster than Sam, and watching the Tigers play, I thought Golden was better. There could be other factors as to why he played behind Sam, including Sam's leadership and smarts. Or perhaps the Missouri coaches didn't want Golden, a junior-college transfer, to start, in order to increase his chances of staying another season. Sophomore Shane Ray is also more athletic than Sam, a quality valued on special teams at the next level. Same goes for senior end/outside linebacker Brayden Burnett." Again…It has nothing to do with him being gay.
No way in hell I'd draft Michael Sam, and it has nothing to do with what he does off the field.
Here is a crazy thought, what if Sam knew he wasn't likely to get drafted? What if his agent and the people around him told him he was likely go 5th round or later, or possibly not get drafted at all?
Is it possible that Sam made the announcement, not to be a pilgrim and forge a new blazing rainbow trail through the NFL, but to try to benefit his own pockets and draft status based on the Big Gay Al circus the media has created surrounding this story? (singing in my Big Gay Al voice) "Sam's Ssssuper…Thanks for asking…"
Bottom line is the kid plays hard, he is extremely smart and should be commended for being open with his sexuality. No one should be forced to live in denial based on what other people think. I hope more players come out like Sam, in all sports. Times have changed and one thing has nothing to do with the other, but there is a flip side to that coin.
Don't blame your sexual preference if you don't make it in the NFL. If Sam doesn't get drafted now you will hear from all the activists…Elton John, Ricky Martin and Lance Bass will have a charity concert. Rosie O'Donnell will make a Youtube video condemning NFL executives for being prejudice, while eating a Carl Jr's burger. All hell will break loose.
All I'm saying is if he doesn't get drafted, which is seeming more likely by the day, it may not have to do with what Sam does in his private time. Let's give the scouts, coaches and NFL executives a little benefit of the doubt. If Bridgewater, Manziel or Clowney came out like Sam, they'd still be drafted, and in the 1st round.
So let us not make this about being gay or straight. This is about football, and if Sam isn't drafted so be it. I wouldn't take him…and not because he would be a distraction, but because he's not a NFL caliber player. It has nothing to do with him being gay.
Adriana?…Well she would draft him with the 12 pick in the first round, friggin bleeding heart kids, not that there's anything wrong with that.