I have an idea. I think it’s a good one.
It’s about Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive lineman/linebacker who came out last night, setting the stage to become the first openly gay player on an active professional sports roster.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper says Sam’s probably a 4th round pick. An anonymous team official told Sports Illustrated he didn’t think the SEC co-defensive player of the year was an NFL caliber player before yesterday and his opinion hasn’t been swayed since the news broke. So, let’s say there’s a 60% Sam gets picked in the draft.
But if he’s picked, the NFL should immediately announce that whatever team he goes to will be featured on Hard Knocks this summer.
There couldn’t be a more compelling story line than a borderline NFL talent trying to make a roster while also trying to make history. And wouldn’t it be fascinating to see for ourselves how his teammates, coaches and executives deal with the situation. What about the player who is competing with Sam for a roster spot? Will that guy feel like he’s at an disadvantage because the team feels external pressure to make sure Sam makes the team?
There’s also the big brother factor, which might make Sam’s transition a bit easier. Will players be more cognizant of their behavior when they know they’ll be on HBO every week? A guy who might otherwise be loud and open about his anti-gay feelings could decide to keep it to himself. Or we could get to watch a conversation between Sam and that player. Or that player and another teammate where they discuss their feelings on either side of the issue. And that’s unquestionably a good thing.
The NFL released this statement yesterday:
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
I’d love the chance to see that in action.
Michael McKnight writes what should be an interesting discussion of the use of marijuana among NFL players. He presents interesting points about players who say they would rather smoke pot then take addictive prescription drugs. Unfortunately, his Scorecard column is full of dumb pot puns. Plus, in what’s probably an effort to keep the discussion clinical, he continually refers to marijuana as cannibis. And that’s just distracting.
Angry Birds by S.L. Price
This was a no win situation for Price. He has to write a big wrap up story about the Superbowl, a game that was a blowout from the first minute and, despite some big names, featured two teams that were overwhelmingly boring. He does as good a job as can be hoped, jumping from character to character and story to story to try to paint an overall picture of the game.
I Did It My Way by Jack McCallum
I don’t think you can overstate how important David Stern has been to the world of sports in the past 30 years. And SI does the right thing by pulling out their NBA big gun, Jack McCallum, to write the final wrap up on Stern’s tenure as NBA commissioner. A good read.
A Second-Chance Point by Luke Winn
Winn profiles Iowa State point guard Deandre Kane. But really, he’s profiling the program led by Fred Hoiberg. The former NBA guard is building a team made up of players nothing like himself. And who knew his favorite teammate ever was Latrell Sprewell?
Olympic Terror Story by Alexander Wolff
That’s not the actual title of this story.The actual title is 25 words long. I don’t feel like typing all of them. As for the actual story, it’s exactly the type of article that I ordinarily enjoy in Sports Illustrated. But, this time, I can’t even read it. My brother is in Sochi, covering the Olympics for Fox Sports. I have been living like an ostrich with my head in the ground since he got there. I have purposely avoided all stories about potential terrorist attacks at the Olympics. It’s the only way I’ll be able to sleep at night.
Point After by Steve Rushin
Steve Rushin says the Superbowl has become a very large event.