This week Michael Sam became the Jackie Robinson of football. He is likely to be the first admittedly gay person to be drafted into the NFL. While Jackie Robinson could not hide who he was, a black man, Michael Sam could have simply played football and kept his sexual orientation to himself. What Michael Sam did was brave to the nth degree. That he did it right before potentially being drafted is even braver.
According to The Huffington Post former NFL head coach Herm Edwards took exception to this revelation.
During an appearance on ESPN, where Edwards is an analyst, he compared Sam to a player with “off the field” issues and raised concerns about how his teammates might handle the ensuing media firestorm.
“He’s bringing baggage into your locker room,” he said. “Can the players handle the media attention they are going to get, when they get the question asked, ‘are you okay with a gay teammate?'”
Herm Edwards is a black man. Herm Edwards should know better. Was Herm Edwards bringing baggage to the NFL as a black coach? After-all could his race not be a distraction? Has Herm Edwards forgotten that as recent as 2003 the NFL needed the Rooney Rule because of the under-representation of minorities in the NFL? It will interesting to see what card in the future if he is not awarded another head coaching job.
Jon Stewart had a funny but rather telling piece on Michael Sam on his Daily Show. It is worth watching. See it here.
Herm Edwards proves prejudice and intolerance is color blind.
It is ironic that Herm Edwards would use language similar to those objecting to the integration of the military. There is one good specific teaching moment that comes out of the above Herm Edwards statement. While all groups are not privy to privilege, they are all privy to intolerance and prejudice.
LIKE My Facebook Page – Visit My Blog: EgbertoWillies.com
no one has baggage but gays? you silly insignificant little man
Dave Robbins says
I don’t think demonizing Herm Edwards for his choice of words is the right thing here. Maybe it should not be called “baggage” or “distractions,” but it is what it is. The media attention on Michael Sam will go wherever he is drafted. He will be drafted. He’s too good not to be. To not acknowledge that it (media attention) will be a distraction, and some teams will avoid it, is a failure to see this for what it is.
Michael Sam is breaking down a door in the same way Jackie Robinson did. In the same way the media attention on the Dodgers, Branch RIckey, and Jackie Robinson escalated the same will happen wherever Michael Sam goes.
Did Herman Edwards use stupid language? Yes, but he also made a salient point. That point is that this is just beginning for Michael Sam. There will be the the NFL Combine in Indy, U of MIssouri’s pro-day, any individual workout sessions Mr. Sam holds, the NFL Draft, off season mini-camps, training camp, and the season. Call it “baggage.” Call it “a distraction.” The fact of the matter is media with a non-football focus will follow this. It will affect Michael Sam, but it will also affect his future coach, and teammates.
J. M. Biesche says
Forward progress always has a price, and this courageous young man knows he will be paying it. If not for the distractions Jackie Robinson brought to baseball, Herm Edwards might be bagging groceries right now. I hope Mr. Edwards finds some intestinal fortitude at some point, but till then he can watch this young athlete face the challenges bravely and succeed spectacularly.
Well said, J. M., well said. Mr. Edwards wasn’t that kind of distraction only because of the owners/GMs who were willing to put up with the “distractions” of hiring Fritz Pollard and Art Shell.
Collins Batchelor says
Did Herm Edwards have the same concern about Ray Lewis and his involvement in a murder? Michael Vick and his conviction for animal cruelty in connection with dog fighting? Ben Roethlisberger’s and Brett Favre’s accusations of sexual misconduct?
Just seems like the only distraction that Herm is worried about is Sam’s being gay.
Dave Robbins says
Bill Polian said essentially the same thing with approptriate context and tact:
“If you can help the team win, you’ll be welcomed as a teammate. Obviously, there’ll be some public hurdles to cross. I think that’ll be the most difficult part because this will be a media event of great magnitude. So the club is going to have to prepare for that and help the players as well as Mr. Sam get through that. But as a football player you’ll be treated just that way, as a football player.”
I wonder if having teammates with DUI’s, gun charges, rape charges, assault charges, domestic violence charges, drug charges, etc a “distraction”?
If a player is asked the question that Herm thinks will be so “distracting”, i.e., ‘are you okay with a gay teammate?’” they have the same choices when confronted with any other question from a reporter, e.g., “I don’t care as long as he can contribute to the team”, or “It bothers me” or” I don’t care” or “Next question” …
Are we forgetting murder charges, a la Hernandez?