NFL Prospect Michael Sam:“There Goes Those Damn Sams”

Ed Raymond

Michael Sam has garnered a lot of publicity lately as a gay black All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri (Mizzou) who will be drafted by some National Football League team if they aren’t freaked out by the fact he will be the “first” gay to play pro football. The first pro football game was played in 1892  so I hope we are all smart enough to know that hundreds of gay football players have played in those macho games of the last 122 years.
As a high school and college football and baseball player and an American Legion baseball coach I have been in a lot of different locker rooms with some very fascinating characters. I have had gay teammates and players in both sports. As a Marine machinegun platoon and rifle company commander I commanded a whole slew of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” gay Marines. In my 36 years as a teacher and school administrator I have worked with dozens of gay and lesbian closet colleagues. But I think Michael Sam is one of the more fascinating gay characters I have run across. This very compelling complex human is carefully dissected in a New York Times article “Before Coming Out, A Hard Time Coming Up: Michael Sam’s Troubled Upbringing in Texas”  written by Joe Drape, Steve Eder, and Billy Witz.

Sam Has Developed A Lot Of Survival Skills By Necessity

Born the seventh of eight children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Michael’s family was already well-known in small-town (7,000) Hitchcock, Texas. He admits: “My family was very notorious in the town...everyone would say: ‘There goes those damn Sams.’” His parents separated after the eight children were born when his father left to drive truck in North Texas. Three of the eight children are dead and two are in prison. A two-year-old sister drowned when another child knocked her off a fishing pier. Brother Russell at 15 was shot and killed when he broke into a home as part of a gang initiation.  Another brother has not been heard of since he left the house to go to work in 1998. No one else in his family has attended college.
Sam has never been close to his parents. Religion was always a ready conflict. His mother did not believe in birth control, did not celebrate holidays, or believe in any kind of organized sports for her children. When he became interested in sports his mother was so angry he lived in the backseat of her car for awhile. In junior high he served as the high school team’s waterboy and “equipment manager”under the direction of the head football coach. In Michael the coach soon saw a real prospect. Sam started as a freshman on the Hitchcock varsity team. Presently he is 6-2 and 255 pounds. As a high school freshman he was so big the photographer had him stand in the back row of the football picture. He played on both the defensive and offensive teams and was good enough to be noticed in Houston, a great football city.
In high school his closest friend was the son of the local bank president, Ron Purl. Purl knew Michael was gay but he treated him like a son and gave him a bedroom in the Purl home. He took care of the swimming pool and other chores around the house. Purl said: “I look at our house as a kind of safe haven. Michael was just another son. If he did something wrong, he got yelled at just like the others did.” The Purls were the ones that drove Michael to the University of Missouri when he was offered a football scholarship. Sam’s father has not accepted that his son is gay. When Michael visits Hitchcock he does not see members of his family. He says: “I’m closer to my friends than I am to my family.”

Michael Has Some Unusual Talents And Attributes

Texas racism is legendary, but when a white friend was picked on in high school and was  attacked at a local mall, Michael waded into the gang and scattered them.
The Missou coaches thought Sam was only a two-star recruit, not a four-star, because he was small for defensive end. Sam is not a quiet kid. His high school coach said: “He drove me crazy. He never shut up.” He is essentially a motor-mouth. Michael was intimidated at Mizzou at first, but he won everybody over with his tank top, cowboy hat, and  smooth baritone. He is really a pretty good stand-up comic and a natural peacemaker until he gets on the football field. There he is a hell-on-wheels sacker of quarterbacks. The team voted him the Most Valuable Player. During practice he’s noisy, cannot “shut up,” and often sings funny improvised songs about his teammates. A teammate said: “He’s got a motor that never stops. He is a big personality, and when he started with the songs, you just knew his mind never stopped.”
Sam told the Mizzou team he was gay in his senior year. The coaches and the team didn’t seem to care and most of Columbia, Missouri knew anyway. Sam was often a very happy presence at the SoCo Club, a local nightclub that hosts gay shows. Michael loves all of the Harry Potter books. He is a unique gay guy.


These NFL owners and managers who are totally shocked that a black gay All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri may be drafted by some team as the first gay NFL player have either the IQ of a football, the education of a sea squirt, or live under the rules of the 13th Century Inquisition. Almost four million males and females play organized football in this country, 68,000 at the college level, and 1,696 in the NFL. The first pro game took place in 1892 between the Allegheny Athletic Association and the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The first NFL game was played in 1920, but the league didn’t really get organized until 1932. So let’s do some estimating math from that point. The average NFL player actually survives in the league for about two years. Each year 1,696 are on rosters at any one time. So in these 81 years between 1932 and 2013 about 68,688 men have played pro football (40.5 X 1,696).
There have been numerous attempts to determine the percentage of gays in a population. Most research ends up between five to ten percent. So if ten percent is the figure, five percent are lesbians and five percent are gay males. So if we multiply 68,688 by five percent we get 3,434. How did the coaches, the managers, owners and players miss 3,434 gay men playing smash-mouth all those 81 years? Each year, if this research is even partially correct, we have 200,000 gays playing football. How could we not notice? Well, perhaps you have noticed. Gays look like everybody else. They don’t have “666” tattooed on their foreheads, nor are they “intrinsically evil” as prescribed by those bastions of righteousness, the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Bible Thumpers dominating  religious fundamentalism who read the Bible’s Leviticus while wearing polyester and cotton football team jerseys.

NFL Hierarchy Needs To Join The Human Race Instead Of
Being Ignorant, Bigoted Jocks Committing Brain Farts

Eight NFL managers and coaches commented on the “marketability” and his draft position after Sam revealed to the world he is gay. All eight, according to USA Today sports writer Gwen Knapp, said Sam would “lose draft appeal.”  One scout said: “I just know with this going on, this is going to drop him down (in the draft). There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to ...‘break the barrier?’” An NFL personnel assistant said: “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game.” You mean a gay who had 11.5 sacks against prime opponents, named an All-American defensive player, was the Most Valuable Player on his team, was a team leader among “Man’s-man,” is actually a “girlie-man” as described by that great social scientist Arnold Scharzeneggergroper? What nonsense. What bullshit. Gwen came up with the wonderful term “brain fart” to describe the numerous brain fartings of NFL brass about this “situation.”  I wish I would have thought it. It beats out nonsense and bullshit by a mile.

Pope Francis: “Who Am I To Judge?”

When Pope Francis uttered those words, he threw the Vatican and its minions, and the ordinary cardinals, bishops, and priests around the world into a real tizzy, an Armegeddon of immense proportions. You mean the fact we have been teaching that homosexuality is “intrinsically evil” for centuries is no longer a fact? Wow! What do we do now? Well, maybe you should teach that science is beginning to tell us that homosexuality is influenced by genes, that genes were created by God in Genesis. So, if God approves all humans in the womb, maybe homosexuality is OK? Remember that Bible verse about God checking out each fetus in the womb? Something about “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you?” Is that the first pre-natal check?
Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered that a region of the X chromosome called Xq28 has some impact on men’s sexual behavior and a stretch of DNA on chromosome 8 also plays a role in sexual orientation. Remember that the X chromosome is passed to male babies by Momma. The researchers indicate we are not ready to give men and women genetic tests yet. Some things have to be figured out first. As an example, we now know that the identical twin of a gay is more likely straight than gay. Sex sure is complicated and demands further investigation in order to set humankind and the religious fundamentalists straight.
Martin Luther King Jr. compared the different roles of religion and science in a short paragraph: “Science investigates, religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power. Religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.  The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism.  Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism.” At least, that’s the way the two “systems” should work. Perhaps the NFL owners, coaches, and players should ask: “Who are we to judge?”

Some Wisdom From The Coach Who Said Winning Is Everything

The son of Vince Lombardi, the iconic coach of the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins, said in an interview by Jim Corbett of USA TODAY Sports that his father would have evaluated Sam on “his merits as a football player” and would have been very supportive of the first openly gay NFL draft prospect. Lombardi was known as one of the toughest coaches in the business, somewhat intimidating at times, and ran a tight locker room. But he was also known for treating all of his players with equality and dignity “no matter their creed, race, or sexual orientation.” Lombardi was aware some of his players were gay. He always told his assistant coaches that regardless of sexual orientation to teach all the players to be the best they could be.
Lombardi was somewhat of a philosopher-coach, often coming up with inspiring and learned quotes. Some favorites: (1) “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society,” (2) “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand,” (3) “Football is like life–it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”  By the way, Lombardi learned many lessons about liberty, equality, and fraternity in a society from his gay brother Harold.