Michael Sam (Reuters/Pat Lovell)

Michael Sam calls foul on his late draft pick: "I should’ve been in the first three rounds"

And Marshall Henderson says he tweeted homophobic comments about Sam as a noble intellectual pursuit!

Katie McDonough
May 12, 2014 8:56PM (UTC)

Michael Sam, an all-American defensive lineman, the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference and now the NFL's first openly gay active player, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams on the third day of the draft, during its seventh and final round. As Dave Zirin at the Nation notes, Sam's status as 249th pick was unusual -- he was the only SEC defensive player of the year to last through the second round in the past decade.

This wasn't lost on Sam, either. “From last season alone, I should’ve been in the first three rounds. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-American,” Sam told the Associated Press. “I knew I was going to get picked somewhere. Every team that passed me, I was thinking how I’m going to sack their quarterback.”


Sam stopped short of saying homophobia played a role in his late pick, but others critical of the process have pointed to a combination of NFL hive mind and the institutional homophobia framed as a resistance to "controversy" as driving it. But Michael David Smith at NBC Sports doesn't see anything unusual about Sam getting drafted so late in the process. "Sam is wrong if he thinks being SEC Defensive Player of the Year or an All-American should make him a high draft pick," he wrote. "Those are media awards, and NFL teams couldn’t care less what sportswriters think."

Zirin acknowledged that Sam is a “tweener” -- a player "neither big enough to play defensive line nor quick enough to be an every-down linebacker," but said that pretending homophobia didn't play a role in the late timing of Sam's pick is intentionally naive.

"But if Michael Sam’s sexuality’s being an inhibitor to his draft status is not your starting point for understanding all of this, I believe you’re lost without a compass," he wrote. "This is not to argue that all general managers in the NFL are homophobic. It’s not about what kinds of prejudice lurks in the hearts of individual executives. It’s about a systemic problem in an NFL that loathes independent thinkers, fears political controversy and hates 'distractions.'"

Zirin is right that the bigger problem is systemic, but individual tool bags acting like homophobes doesn't help much, either.

Case in point: college basketball player Marshall Henderson. After Sam was drafted -- and after the nation got a glimpse of the Sam sweetly kissing his partner in celebration -- Henderson tweeted that he would boycott ESPN for showing the kiss.

After being called out for his blatantly homophobic response to Sam's display of affection, he said that he isn't homophobic. He was just acting homophobic ... in the name of academic inquiry! (How noble!)


Here's Henderson explaining that he acted like a fool for a "friend":


— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

One of my best friends, WHO IS GAY, is about to graduate in psychology, asked me to say these things so he can have responses ... TBC

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

The point of his study was to see how people react when others say things or act a certain way against another group of people ... TBC

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

He chose gays because of how he relates to it and has to live it EVERYDAY of his life ... He asked me because he knew I would get incredible

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

Feedback, and OMG how crazy you people are lol ... It is absolutely amazing to see what people have said, whether agreeing or disagreeing

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

As far as what I said, Totally was 100% for the project ... as far as my ACTUAL views - its irrelevant because its gonna happen regardless!

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

Sorry for messing with everyone like that!!! Everyone really helped my boy AND FOR THAT WE ARE EXTREMELY APPRECIATIVE!!!

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

ITS CALLED PSYCHOLOGY .... and everyone just got taken to school

— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014

Is anyone buying this?

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Homophobia Marshall Henderson Michael Sam Nba Nfl

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