I have one thing to say about the NFL draft and Michael Sam:
I couldn't be happier for this guy, and his opportunity to play professional football as an out and proud gay man. Hats off to Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams for drafting him, even if it was later in the game than one would have expected for an All-American and SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year. Playing in the SEC is essentially like playing semi-pro football, so I am confident that Michael Sam is ready for the big leagues. He's dedicated. He wants to work hard. He loves the game of football. And above all things, he's a Missouri Tiger.
Can I get an M-I-Z!? (your answer to that is: Z-O-U!)
Of course, this draft pick, and the picture of him kissing his boyfriend, a former Mizzou swimmer named Vito Cammisano, has sparked outrage among the haters. I have to wonder which offends them more: that two men are seen kissing each other, or that the two men happen to be an interracial gay couple? It's hard to know these days when there's so much acrimony in the air about people in love.
Never mind that many of us, including the LGBTQI crowd, have had to watch many, many images of heterosexual joy on the sidelines of football games. Does it not bother Alabama fans that their quarterback was dating a woman from Auburn?
If folks weren't all tied up into knots over the kiss, then it was the fact that the historic moment received any attention at all that drove some to flame on their Twitter feeds. A member of the FSU football team actually defended the honor of the school's rival, the University of Florida's Tim Tebow, to take a swipe at the hype about Michael Sam:
"Y'all praise Michael Sam for being gay but y'all mocked Tim Tebow for being Christian. SMH. #society."
Here we go: Christian athletes don't get no respect and gay ones get too much. Let's start with the fact that there is nothing novel about being a "Christian" athlete. Christians on sports teams have been openly displaying their faith, both through gestures of prayer or by starting every interview by thanking God. There is even a Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which is very active on the Florida State campus. In short, being a Christian athlete isn't a big deal.
That's where Tim Tebow fell down. According to all reports, while Tebow is a great guy and sincere about his faith in Christ, he would not let go of his dream to play quarterback in the NFL. That's really too bad because I think if he had trusted that his coaches knew what was better for him, he would still be playing. Perhaps as a tight end for the New England Patriots, catching passes from Tom Brady.
Tim Tebow's failure to cut it in the NFL wasn't about Tim Tebow being a Christian. It was about Tim Tebow being attached to a position where he wasn't needed and wasn't going to get to play.
Furthermore, the suggestion from all of this smokescreen about Christian athletes presumes that Michael Sam is not a Christian. I don't know if he is or isn't, or if he professes to belong to any particular faith. I do know that my college friend, the Very Rev. Mike Kinman who is dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, issued an open invitation via Facebook for Michael and his boyfriend to join them for services on Sunday, and even noted that if they came to the 8am, they'd be able to get to the stadium in plenty of time for the kick-off for the early games! He included the hashtags #JesusLoves #WeDoToo. Truth via Twitter.
For his part, Michael Sam seems to be just preparing to play football and appreciating the love of his new fans in St. Louis. I think it's great that he is joining an organization there in the Show Me State where he'll be close to his college roots in Columbia, and fans who loved him so much that they gave him a standing ovation at a basketball game shortly after he came out. I'm proud that my alma mater, and the city of Columbia, has become a place where it isn't nearly as scary to be "out" as it was even 24 years ago when I was graduating from Journalism School. One of the shops down town has a window display with the T-shirts bearing a new slogan, "We Are All CoMosexuals."