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Michael Sam has great response for Tony Dungy

Michael Sam RamsTony Dungy became persona non-grata this week after saying he would not have drafted Michael Sam. A day later, Dungy decided to “clarify” his original comments. Sam also was asked about the comments Tuesday and responded.

“Thank God he wasn’t St. Louis Rams’ coach,” Sam joked to the media. “But I have a great respect for (Tony) Dungy, and everyone in America is entitled to their own opinions.”

That’s a pretty good response from Sam, who did not want to continue talking about that subject.

“I don’t really care what people are coming up and talking about,” Sam said after being faced with another question from the media about Dungy. “My job is to make this team, that’s my number one priority.”

Dungy issued a statement Tuesday to elaborate on his controversial comments about not wanting to draft Sam. Dungy says the media circus surrounding Sam is what would have dissuaded him.

His statement is below.

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Tony Dungy: I would not have drafted Michael Sam

Michael Sam RamsMichael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams more than two months ago, and we have heard very little about his sexual preference since then. With the exception of his touching speech at the ESPYs, the fact that Sam is gay has seemingly been a nonissue. Tony Dungy must not have taken note of that.

Dungy recently said he would not have drafted Michael Sam if he was still an NFL head coach.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,” the former Indianapolis Colts coach and current NBC analyst said, via Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”

Not wanting to “deal with all of it” is undoubtedly the reason several teams passed on Sam. While all has been quiet to this point, Dungy doesn’t believe it will stay that way.

“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen,” he added.

The most interesting thing about Dungy’s stance is that he tried to go down the politically correct road when asked about Sam back in February.

“The NFL has always been based on merit and I think that will continue to be the case whether it’s Michael Sam and the issue of homosexuality or anything else,” Dungy said at the time. “Guys who produce and play well will be welcome in the league.”

I guess what he meant was Sam will be welcome in the NFL, but he wouldn’t be welcomed by me.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and Dungy’s is one that is shared by many but bottled up by most. Fortunately, the Rams were willing to deal with whatever distractions might come with drafting Sam if it means potentially improving their football team. If everyone felt the same way Dungy feels about Sam, an openly gay player would never be drafted.

H/T The Big Lead

Michael Sam brought boyfriend Vito Cammisano to ESPYs

Michael Sam boyfriend Vito Cammisano

Michael Sam was not at all shy about his relationship with boyfriend Vito Cammisano when he got drafted, so it’s no surprise that he brought his better half with him to the ESPYs.

Sam showed up in LA and strutted the red carpet for the ESPYs Wednesday hand in hand with Cammisano. The two know each other from Missouri, where Sam played football and Cammisano was a swimmer.

Sam of course rocked the media and shocked viewers when ESPN showed him kissing his boyfriend multiple times in celebration of being drafted.

Sam is receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his decision to publicly come out and become the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.

[Also see: Meet Vito Cammisano, Michael Sam's boyfriend]

Michael Sam reality show called off

Michael Sam RamsTwo days after Oprah Winfrey Network announced that they would be producing a Michael Sam reality show chronicling the pass rusher’s journey to make it in the NFL as the first openly gay player in the league, it was announced that the show was being called off.

“After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, ‘The Untitled Michael Sam Project’ has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dreams of making the team,” OWN president Erik Logan said in a statement via ESPN. “OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best. It’s clear that we, along with the world, recognize the opportunity that Michael has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams.”

The St. Louis Rams and the NFL both said they were not made aware of the project until after the draft, where Sam was selected in the seventh round, 249th overall. Sam’s agent, Cameron Weiss, said the idea behind postponing the show was to allow Sam to focus solely on football and making the team.

“After today’s meeting with the Rams, we felt it is best to postpone the project,” Weiss said. “This will allow for Michael to have total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”

It’s pretty clear that this was an admission by Sam’s team that they made a huge mistake. Sam emphasized before the draft that he only wanted to be seen as a football player and nothing else, but then he did the opposite by agreeing to do a show. The move just seemed so out of the character he was portraying to the public. But this is a tacit acknowledgement that a mistake was made. At least they realized that and called off the show sooner rather than later.

Rams reportedly not concerned about Michael Sam reality show

Michael Sam MissouriThe announcement this week that Michael Sam was going to be featured in a reality show on Oprah Winfrey Network caught many by surprise and gave us many reasons to doubt and criticize the former Missouri linebacker. It’s hard enough for NFL players to succeed as it is, but it’s even tougher when you have a reality show on the side. And it’s doubly difficult when you’re a lowly-picked rookie who has a lot to learn and a long way to go to make the team.

But the Rams reportedly are not concerned about the show.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio says the Rams intend to cooperate with Sam to make the situation work out for everyone.

Another issue is whether the team or league knew about Sam’s plans for the reality show. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Sam did not tell teams about the show for fear he would not be picked. The guy was only selected 249th overall as it was, so one extra thing like this probably would have resulted in him going undrafted. Would the Rams have selected him had they known about the show, which has been pushed back until after the Super Bowl? That’s a good question.

Another good question is whether the NFL hid their knowledge about the plans for a show. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the league knew about the show and didn’t tell teams about it. The league denied that charge. They also have been firm in saying the Rams were not influenced to select Sam.

The Rams say they will cooperate with Sam, but how will the rest of the team take it? I just think this hurts his chances of making the team and was a bad idea. You can still document his journey with plans for a film later on, but agreeing to a deal with Oprah might be a death sentence for his career.

Michael Sam gets reality show on Oprah Winfrey Network

Michael Sam yellow bracelet

Michael Sam’s journey to make it as the first openly gay player in the NFL will be documented in a series on Oprah Winfrey Network, the network announced Wednesday.

Sam, the former Missouri linebacker and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, will essentially have his own reality TV crew following him around for the show. The crew was present when Sam was drafted on Saturday, OutSports.com reports.

The Rams are also aware of the show and will be cooperating with its producers.

“Michael is focused on football and making the St. Louis Rams team,” said Howard Bragman, Sam’s publicist and one of the show’s producers, via OutSports. “We’re going to work with the Rams organization to make sure the show doesn’t interfere with his primary goal.”

Knowing about this reality show puts Sam’s draft status in an entirely new light. Drafting an openly gay player was going to attract a ton of media attention, but it’s another element entirely to select a player who will have his own TV show. That can create additional resentment and disruption within the locker room, which may be why teams passed on him. Think about how many teams don’t want to participate in HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Think about how many teams don’t want guys like Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson or even AJ McCarron just because they do reality TV. And now you have a better understanding of why they would not have wanted to draft Sam.

Below is the full text of the press release announcing the show:

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Michael Sam kiss debate leads Dallas talk show host to walk off set (Video)

Amy KushnirThe kiss(es) Michael Sam shared with his boyfriend Vito Cammisano upon being drafted in the seventh round on Saturday instantly became a huge talking point and resulted in no shortage of controversy.

Everybody has an opinion on the matter. Some applauded ESPN’s decision to televise the entire emotional reaction; some would have preferred for the intimate acts to be left out; and many more were downright offended by the site of two men kissing, which says more to me about them than anything else.

Days after the kiss, the arguments have persisted and even led one talk show host to walk off a set because she was so frustrated at having her views challenged.

[Related: Michael Sam gets reality show on Oprah Winfrey Network]

The video above comes from a show called “The Broadcast” on KTXD in Dallas. Two of the four women have a more progressive view regarding the kiss (Lisa Pineiro and Courtney Kerr), while the other two (Amy Kushnir and Suzie Humphreys) have a conservative/outraged view. Kushnir grows so frustrated with the discussion that by the end of the segment, she takes her stuff and walks off the set.

Even though she will receive a lot of negative press for this, I thought she was completely composed during the debate and handled herself well while expressing her opinion. I don’t post this to mock her, but rather to illustrate how sensitive this topic has become.

Also see: Meet Michael Sam’s boyfriend Vito Cammisano

H/T Jimmy Traina