Michael Sam: Living by his code

(Sports Illustrated/CNN)

Michael Sam has taken control of his own narrative.

Missouri linebacker Michael Sam revealed to the world he is an openly gay male — who just happens to be the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Sam is going to be drafted in May, compete for a spot in someone’s rotation and if all goes well, he’ll play. The NFL has given its blessings, but Sam isn’t looking for approval, he just wants to play.

This changes everything.

Michael Sam has already made the biggest play of his career long before donning a team cap and being gripped up in a bear hug by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Sam’s announcement of being an openly gay male has sent shock waves through the NFL community.

This isn’t John Ameche coming out in a tell-all book after his retirement from the NBA. It isn’t Jason Collins going public with his sexual preference when his best days as professional basketball player were behind him.

Michael Sam was arguably the best defensive player in college football’s most respected conference. If that doesn’t turn your head, try 11.5 sacks in 14 games for the Tigers when 12-2 last season.

Michael Sam’s motivation to make it to the NFL has nothing to do with “making a statement.” and everything with just making it. Whether it comes from losing two siblings in death and two more to the judicial system. Maybe it comes from his father who proclaimed, “Deacon Jones is turning over in his grave” hours after his announcement — he remains driven.

He talks about being prepared for the drawback from fans and even players he’ll take the field with on Sundays. He feels the potential pitfalls are minimal compared to what he’s endured to this point.

Maybe the pressure is on us.

Is it on the head coach who has to choose between Sam and a first-round draft pick yet to pan out in a dead even in a training camp battle? Maybe it the father who is confronted by his son to buy a Michael Sam jersey in honor of his first Pro Bowl? Does a disclaimer come before the purchase — which he really hopes he doesn’t have to make?

Michael Sam is Omar Little from “The Wire”. Omar was a drug dealer/stickup artist who had a special affection for men. Omar was in a game which was at the top of the narcissistic chain. Omar played the game by his rules and won viewers over in the process. Scenes of Omar with his male lover went against the unwritten code of the streets. As the series continued, Omar became a favorite as he stood alone against Avon Barksdale and later Marlo Stanfield. When Omar was killed off, the top rooting interest on the show went with it.

Michael Sam is in a game not created with a person who leads his lifestyle in mind. Regardless, he will play and if he is successful, who he goes home to at night will hopefully be a non-issue. Instead, we’ll be talking about a 12 tackle performance that included a bone-jarring forced fumble.

In one of the series’ great quotes, Omar stated, “A man got to have a code.”

Michael Sam is playing by his.

2 Responses to “Michael Sam: Living by his code”

  1. D.N. says:

    The best I have read on this topic. Good one.

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