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NFL Prospect Says He’s Gay, With Publicist’s Help

From a glowing New York Times:

N.F.L. Prospect Proudly Says What Teammates Knew: He’s Gay

By JOHN BRANCH | FEB. 9, 2014

The defensive lineman from the University of Missouri spoke publicly about his sexual orientation and could become the first openly gay player in the National Football League.

Hallelujah! The NFL finally has its Jackie Robinson.

Coaches at the University of Missouri divided players into small groups at a preseason football practice last year for a team-building exercise. One by one, players were asked to talk about themselves — where they grew up, why they chose Missouri and what others might not know about them.

As Michael Sam, a defensive lineman, began to speak, he balled up a piece of paper in his hands. “I’m gay,” he said. With that, Mr. Sam set himself on a path to become the first publicly gay player in the National Football League.

“I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” Mr. Sam said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times, the first time he had spoken publicly about his sexual orientation.

This is the stuff of legend. This amazing story will be passed down from generation to generation for as long as football is played. (Which actually might not be much longer.)

Mr. Sam, a senior who was listed at 6 feet 2 inches and 260 pounds, had a stellar season as Missouri finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. He was a first-team all-American and was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, widely considered the top league in college football. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.

And still nobody had ever heard of him until now.

Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career…

Right. This was a tremendous risk. And not a cagey PR move to get attention. No way.

Meanwhile, some back story on this historic decision, via the gay media outlet, Outsports, which is owned by Ezra Klein’s Vox Media:

‘The eagle has landed’

The exclusive behind-the-scenes story of how NFL prospect Michael Sam came out

Cyd Zeigler | February 9, 2014

It was the afternoon of Jan. 20 that publicist Howard Bragman sent the text: "The eagle has landed." I knew right away what he meant.

He had just come from lunch with NFL agents Joe Barkett and Cameron Weiss of Empire Athletes. They were representing an NFL Draft prospect — Missouri defensive end and SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam —  who wanted to come out publicly as gay. They were looking for a publicist to roll out the story and Howard Bragman’s name kept popping up over and over…

Because the important thing in such historic matters is always to have the best publicist. And what could be better than a publicist named Bragman?

Sam said he wanted to come out publicly; They supported the choice. They would do this together…

The first order of business was the timing. The agents and Sam wanted to do it in late March after Missouri’s Pro Day. I didn’t like it. The key was to give NFL teams as much time as possible to absorb this: The further ahead of the Draft, the less it would matter in the draft. Plus, it would be important for him to get on the field after he came out. If he wasn’t going to come out before the Combine, I told Bragman he should do it before his Pro Day and plan on participating — He needed to get on the field for scouts after he came out. My suggestion was Wednesday, Feb. 26, the day after the Combine ended. Howard agreed.

Our calendar must be off.

The second order of business was to determine where to break the story. Bragman knew the importance of this decision. For him, there was one determining factor: Who had earned it?

Howard [Bragman] already knew he wanted the TV element to be on ESPN. He has a working relationship with ABC, who shares a parent company — Disney — with ESPN… Plus, ESPN is a sports media outlet with a good track record on LGBT sports issues: The story had to be the football, the sport…

The last piece — print media — was the big question. We talked about USA Today and Time magazine. The cover of Time would be huge. Jason Collins had come out in Sports Illustrated, but Bragman wanted to go a different direction…

Bragman quickly settled on The New York Times and writer John Branch, who had written several well-received articles about LGBT athletes…

That’s only fitting. Given how the New York Times has been the foremost champion of the gay agenda in the news media. Even more than the Advocate.

But what is going on? Is it okay, even wonderful, to play football as long as you are gay?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, February 10th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “NFL Prospect Says He’s Gay, With Publicist’s Help”

  1. Astravogel says:


  2. Right of the People says:

    To the players of the team that drafts him, be prepared for the media zoo! I just hope if he does get drafted, that he’s actually good enough to make the team on his own merits because if he’s not good enough and get’s cut there’s a huge discrimination lawsuit coming against the team that drafts him, the NFL anyone else they think they can get money from.

  3. canary says:

    Reasons Sam came out to his team first than after to the public.

    1. He could not hide it when showering and during game.
    2. He wanted to increase his ability to find another gay spouse.
    3. As a distraction to any teams they play so the other teams players will try not to touch him in case he takes it the wrong way.
    4. He got tired of women hitting on him.

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