NFL Prospect Michael Sam Faces the Media

Yesterday was “media day” for defensive linemen entering the 2014 draft, and there was a “crush” waiting for Michael Sam with many questions on his sexuality. Via the Chicago Tribune:

Sam, attempting to become the first openly gay player in the NFL, faced an enormous media crush and a 35-question, 12-minute session at the NFL scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Sam came to the combine with a hope of elevating his draft stock. Here is some of what he had to say Saturday as he took questions from the media.

On whether he has any concern of experiencing any harassment or torment from fans of opposing teams in the NFL:

“No, I’ve been getting all kinds of great, positive (reaction) from all kinds of fans. When I’m on the field, I really don’t focus on fans. So I just focus on my responsibility, which is the guy right across from me.”

On whether he’d be comfortable in a locker room like Miami’s, in the wake of the bullying details that recently surfaced in the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation:

“If the Miami Dolphins drafted me, I would be excited to be part of that organization. But I’m not afraid about going into that environment. I know I have a handle of myself. I know how to communicate with teammates and communicate with coaches and whoever I need to communicate with.”

On whether he’s been overwhelmed by the volume of coverage his story has gotten this month:

“I’ve been missing in action. I haven’t really been paying attention to the media, so I don’t really know.”

On whether he noticed any difference in his relationships with teammates after he revealed to them he was gay:

“No, not at all. It was the same as the first day I was there.”

But Sam doesn’t want to answer all these questions about his sexuality:

On if he wishes his sexuality wasn’t a major story:

“Heck yeah. I wish you’d say, ‘Hey Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?’ I’d love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is. I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”

I get that, but at some point Michael Sam has to stop feeding the beast. For example, Sam showed up to yesterday’s news conference wearing a rainbow-colored “I Stand with Sam” pin, which helped feed the story that Sam says he’s trying to downplay. The pin made it into hundreds of stories about yesterday’s news conference. 

If Sam doesn’t think the questions about his sexuality are important, he does have the option of not answering them. 

Exit question: The Tribune reported that Sam answered 35 questions in 12 minutes. Is it too much to ask that press secretary Jay Carney, President Obama, and all politicians learn to answer questions with the same speed and clarity?

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