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February 10, 2014

Note To Michael Sam -- I Don't Care

Dear Michael;

I'm a middle-aged white guy. I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican. I'm also a season ticket holder for the Houston Texans, and have been since the team's first season. I'm a teacher with two former students playing in the NFL. So let me be very clear about your announcement regarding your sexual orientation -- I don't care.

Let me repeat -- I DON'T CARE!

Really.

If you are on the roster of an NFL franchise this fall, I'll applaud you. But it won't be because you are gay. It will be for precisely the same reason I applaud those two former students -- it will because you have striven for excellence and achieved it when only a handful of those who play the game do so. And make no mistake about it; I'll be pulling for you every bit as much I have for the couple dozen former students who have played college ball, most of whom didn't make it.

But understand, the reason I will be pulling for you -- it is because I love seeing that dream fulfilled on any given Sunday. It's because I know you have within you the ability to make a difference. Maybe you will be the sort of guy who enters the league with the sort of comment that was made by one of my former students -- “I’ve never been to an NFL game. The first game will be in uniform.” -- and be a shining example to kids who grew up in the direst of circumstances. Maybe you will be like my other student -- whose philanthropic efforts have earned him great praise around the league. Or maybe you will be something else -- I don't know. But what I hope you are not is "the gay football player". Instead, be a football player who just so happens to be gay.

Because let's be honest -- it is your on-field play that matters in terms of your being a player in the NFL, not your off-field play. Fortunately, you've shown that you can live that reality with how you and your teammates handled the issue of your sexual orientation at Mizzou. Please do that in the NFL -- don't feel the need to be the poster boy for "gay" or the in your face activist. Be a player -- be the best player you can be. Let all of us admire you -- straight or gay -- admire you for that.

And by the way -- I'm secretly hoping that you end up being drafted by your hometown team, the Houston Texans. After all, I want to cheer you on in person -- another hometown boy who made good. The rest is completely irrelevant to most of us out here.





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Comments on Note To Michael Sam -- I Don't Care

These are truly nice sentiments. And I sincerely hope you mean them. But given some of what you've written in the past, I'd worry a little that if he dares to talk at all about his situation, or the fight for equality, that you would not apply to him the same understanding that you applied to Tim Tebow when he was outspoken about non-football matters.

In your own words, Tebow "is not shy about acknowledging his faith" -- and you in fact lauded him for "daring to be so public about his beliefs." Rightly or wrongly, you defended Tebow from attacks on his outspokenness, and seemed to believe he could do no wrong when it came to talking about matters other than football.

I'm sure you can understand why I'd at least have questions about what will happen if Sam does some of the same.

|| Posted by dan, February 11, 2014 08:34 AM ||

Fair enough, Dan -- but understand what I am saying. I've got no problem with Sam saying "this is who I am". Indeed, my best friend is a gay man, one with whom I taught for several years and who is like a brother to me.

If Sam wants to be be an activist, that's great -- but if he does so my hope is that he makes it clear that he is a football player first and gay second. But if he insists upon being "Michale Sam, gay football player" rather than "Michael Sam, football player who happens to be gay", then I'll take issue with him -- just as I have with the notion pushed by too many folks of "Barack Obama, black President" rather than "Barack Obama, President who happens to be black". In other words, be about the job and let the rest be incidental to identity, rather than let the descriptor overshadow the job.

Oh, and by the way -- I'll also be clear that I reserve the right to criticize his position on issues when I think he is wrong, just as I do any other public figure.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, February 11, 2014 04:13 PM ||

"or the fight for equality,"

SERIOUSLY?!?
Please tell me how this man has been treated unequally in this world? Has he not been given the opportunity to attend one of this country's finest universities? FOR FREE! Does he not have the right to vote? Did someone tell him he can't use the bathroom down the hall? No, wait, his teammates at Mizzou completely disowned and refused to play with him....oh, wait....
PLEASE tell me how he has been treated unequally?
He is about to be drafted - you know, selected individually - into one of the most exclusive businesses in the world, and he's got to fight inequality?
Just for that comment alone, anything and everything you say is just "blah blah blah".

Good Lord, please open this man's eyes that he may see.

|| Posted by DL Sly, February 12, 2014 01:58 PM ||
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