Ever since the draft, it hasn’t been the Rams’ two first round draft picks that have made headlines, instead it has been the player that they took with the 249th pick in the seventh round, Michael Sam.
There were reports that The Oprah Winfrey Network was going to do a docuseries on Sam’s journey through training camp, making it known that this isn’t just a football player going through training camp, this is history being made.
The docuseries has since been postponed, but you have to wonder, how much more stuff like this there is going to be and if this situation is going to end up being a distraction for the Rams players throughout training camp.
The questions asked by reporters won’t be about the players individually, but more so what it’s like playing with Sam, how they feel about playing with Sam, if they think he’s going to make the team, and so on and so on.
At the rookies introductory press conferences, Sam was given extra media time after the other rookies, and during that time period, four questions were football related. All the other rookies were also asked at least one question about Sam.
Sam said multiple times before being drafted, and has said since being drafted, that this is all about football, and he’s just here to play football. As much as Sam would like that to be the case though, it’s not. This is a historical moment in sports history, and you better believe the media is going to be all over that.
The media wouldnt be doing their job if they made this “just about football”, because it’s not. This is about the first openly gay player trying to make a NFL team.
With the Rams being a young team with a lot of young key players, the situation could very well become a distraction, especially to the young players, but you can’t count out the veterans. Nobody in that locker room has ever had to deal with something remotely close to this.
There will be most likely be more reporters since the Rams won the Super Bowl at Rams Park. Sure the team can limit the access, but they can’t keep everybody away. The Browns are looking to do something similar with the media distractions that could possibly surround Johnny Manziel. Their hope is to limit any distractions.
The Jets made a mistake when they took on Tim Tebow. Tebow was a third-string quarterback and still the media certainly had an effect on the organization and caused a distraction. Although the so-called “Tebow-mania” was a pretty big monster to take on, the Jets certainly could have handled the situation differently.
Unlike Rex Ryan, Jeff Fisher is also an experienced head coach and is will try his best to have his team prepared for the questions that they are bound to encounter. Michael Sam will only become a distraction if they allow Michael Sam to be a distraction.
The bad news for Sam, is that he was the 249th selection and was taken in the seventh round to a team with a lot of depth at the position that he’s trying out for. The good news however, is that Sam is spending the extra time at practice trying to learn his roles on defense as well as special teams. This guy wants to make this football team, and wants to make this about football. He will to do whatever it takes to make a statement and prove the world wrong.