Michael Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams this past weekend, prompting – as one might expect – swift and extreme reactions. There are those who say the Rams’ decision was purely a football one, there are those who say it was the result of hatred and bigotry, and there are those say it was a little bit of both.
Whatever it was, Doug Gottlieb knows one thing for sure: Sam’s decision to kiss his boyfriend after being drafted was a mistake. The kiss didn’t bother Gottlieb one bit. But the NFL is run, in essence, by old white men, and it’s likely that Sam’s openly gay actions hurt his chances for employment within various franchises.
Yes? No? Maybe?
“Well, I can see your point,” former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You might be right. But it’s hard to make judgments on somebody else for being themselves and wanting to be themselves and to live their own life. And I think ESPN and everybody saw a very real moment (after Sam got drafted). You only have so many of them (in your life). And you’re asking him to filter himself for basically a paycheck. You might be right in the fact that the NFL is owned and run by people from an older generation, generally, and it might be something that they disagree with. Some owners may; some owners may not. There’s a mixed bag there.”
But there’s no denying that St. Louis was a great place for Sam. One, it’s not far from Mizzou, where Sam starred in college, so he already had a fan base there. And two, Jeff Fisher is a player-friendly coach who isn’t nearly as old-school as one might think.
There was just one problem.
“The (Rams don’t) have a lot of strengths, (but) defensive line is definitely it,” Rosenfels said. “And it probably is one of the best in the league.”
In fact, perhaps it would have been better for Sam not to have been drafted. That way, he could have gone to a team that needed help in the trenches.
“A lot of guys say when they’re coming out that you almost don’t want to be drafted in the sixth and seventh round,” Rosenfels said. “I don’t know what the percentage is, but it seems like it’s about 50/50 with those sixth- and seventh-rounders making the team. The singing bonus isn’t very much. It’s very, very little. It might have been better to go to a different team. He had no choice in that.”
“And the hard part is, once you go through all the OTAs and minicamps and training camps, teams have their guys,” Rosenfels continued. “They have their guys in their system and they know what they can do. Even guys that they cut and add to the practice squad, they know what they can do. If a guy goes down on their defensive line, those guys can step in because they know the system. That might be holding back Michael Sam a little bit – or any player that gets cut right now that doesn’t get added to their practice squad – because you don’t know the system. It takes a little bit of time to get adjusted to that.”
Still, Rosenfels, who played 12 seasons in the NFL and has a new website called http://www.footballbyfootball.com, believes Sam has what it takes to be an NFL player.
“I do feel like he’s good enough to play in the league,” Rosenfels said. “I watched him play. Not a lot of guys get two-and-a-half, three sacks (in the preseason). I’ve been around football for a long time. It does seem to me like he is talented enough to play in the NFL.”