That Michel Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams (now the Los Angeles Rams) was a function of political correctness by the National Football League.
That is the contention of controversial sports analyst Jason Whitlock.
After two tours of duty with ESPN, the former Kansas City Star columnist is back with Fox Sports.
Whitlock, who among other journalist endeavors appears twice a week on fellow ESPN refugee Colin Cowherd’s radio show which is simulcasted on Fox Sports 1, was reacting to the allegation published Wednesday on the 590 The Fan website by longtime NFL scribe Howard Balzer that the Rams picked Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft (249th overall) as part of a deal with the NFL to avoid being featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks series.
“The SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Sam was considered a fifth-round pick at best. But, as the draft proceeded on the final day, it appeared he might not be drafted at all. It is believed the NFL didn’t want to face questions about that eventuality, and the Rams were viewed as the ideal spot because of St. Louis’ proximity to the Missouri campus in Columbia, 90 miles away, and head coach Jeff Fisher’s ability to deal with whatever distractions there might be,” Balzer wrote.
An All-American at Missouri, Michael Sam became the first openly gay active player in NFL history.
“Sam never made it with the Rams, as he was waived before the 2014 season. He then landed on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad but never played in a game. Sam then retired from football last summer after a brief stint with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes that saw him get no game action,” the Houston Chronicle explained.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) March 24, 2016
Sam tweeted on Wednesday that the revelation didn’t surprise him at all.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, however, denied the Balzer story, calling it absurd and deeming Sam “the best player on the board” at the time of the selection.
With opinions all over the map, Jason Whitlock in the past has been accused by his detractors of playing the race card as well as being a sellout and an Uncle Tom. “Over the years, Whitlock has taken several unpredictable and often unpopular positions, especially when racial issues intersect with sports,” the New York Times detailed in September 2010.
Whitlock told Cowherd that the Balzer report, which he believes is accurate given the author’s reputation, also didn’t surprise him either, and suggested that Michael Sam may have been an attention seeker rather than someone serious about pursuing a pro football career, in part because quickly after the draft, he signed on to a (subsequently abandoned) reality show deal with Oprah.
“I don’t even blame the Rams. This is the NFL. And I want to be careful here because I don’t want people’s heads exploding. Michael Sam was a stunt by the NFL. It was a play to the politically correct crowd. The guy’s too short, not fast enough off the ball, he’s not an NFL player, and I think people did the homework on him and said, ‘You know what, I don’t know if he really, really loves the game.'”
Jason Whitlock went on to say that Michael Sam was hardly the first highly touted player who was unable to make it in the NFL, especially since Sam allegedly lacked the necessary desire.
“Because this is what I say to people who really love the game. I have some friends of mine that love the game, who chase football — semi pro, Canadian, World Football League – and when this guy quit in Canada…he ain’t about that life. This was part of his celebrity and what he’s supposed to do–if he can play in the NFL, great, but if he can’t, ‘I don’t need this, I don’t really want this.’ Again, he was a good college football player. There’s been a lot of really good college football players who aren’t NFL players.”
Whitlock added that Michael Sam showed up for the 2014 NFL combine out of shape. The pre-draft combine is a week-long event where college football players display their skills in front of NFL officials.
Do you agree or disagree with Jason Whitlock that the NFL’s attempt at political correctness, rather than merit, led to the drafting of Michael Sam by the St. Louis Rams?
[Photo by John Amis/AP]