They are all cowards.
I'd like to applaud the St. Louis Rams for their actions in regard to Michael Sam. They handled him with dignity and judged him purely by their needs on the roster. Coach Jeff Fisher did an exemplary job in explaining his reasons in, essentially, saying that Sam was outperformed by another rookie ... and the Rams Defensive line is so deep there just wasn't any way they could keep him.
These are all valid, non prejudicial, NFL business decisions that everyone can understand and accept. What has happened since, however, is another story.
Memo to NFL executives, or as Peter King put it in his Monday Morning Quarterback column "Team Architects": Those of you who didn't go on record and put a name to your quotes about Michael Sam, you are all grade-A cowards. Every. Single. One.
Most of King's MMQB column in SI was devoted to Roger Goodell's rather late-to-the-realization change in domestic violence penalties. Near the end King, once again, speaks to these anonymous executives and gives them voice for their cowardice:
"But I talked to three team architects over the weekend. They’re concerned about the circus coming to town with the first openly gay player trying to make an NFL roster."Oh goodie! Were these "team architects" Tony Dungy in disguise? Fact remains that, despite ESPN's best attempts, Sam was never a distraction for the Rams. Not once. The team handled the situation with grace and most of all class. Now, let's not blame Peter King here. he actually made some good points in his column, and I encourage everyone to read what he had to say about the situation. My gripe is with anonymous executives choosing to use King as voice for their own cowardice. Notice the "fears" mentioned had nothing to do with football? If they would have said "I don't think he can play at this level" it would have been fine ... but to talk about a "Circus" is disingenuous and smacks of people who just don't want to deal with it.
Lets face it folks while the Rams handled Sam with a level of grace that should be commended, too many teams are taking the coward's way out by using the old bromide of "distractions" to cover up their cowardice. It's disappointing but not all-together surprising. The fact that they didn't even choose to mime the reasons that the Rams gave for cutting Sam shows that there is REAL sentiment in the NFL community that is resistant to a homosexual player.
The NFL likes to think of itself as the leader. Leader in everything. What has been shocking is the institutionalized resistance to being a leader in equality for everyone. The odd two game suspension for Ray Rice was bad enough ... yet Commissioner Goodell's decision to amend the NFL policy on it arose primarily because of public shame. The NFL bubble was burst by a videotape of Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiancee out of an elevator. What will it take for the bubble to burst on anonymous NFL executives blathering on about distractions to cover up their cowardice?
Change is coming. It's coming faster than the NFL is willing to go it would seem. The most powerful league in the nation can either be the one driving the bus ... or be caught under it's wheels. Lead the change or change will come to you whether you like it or not.
There were valid, sound, good reasons for Michael Sam being waived by the Rams. It would seem like some anonymous executives in the NFL didn't understand that. I think more organizations could benefit from studying how the Rams went about their business. Maybe then they will put a name to a quote rather than hiding behind Peter King.