The double-edged sword of identity group politics has swung back today as the NFL’s St. Louis Rams just announced that openly gay defensive player Michael Sam was among the final roster cuts this afternoon. According to a story at ESPN.COM entitled “Michael Sam Cut by Rams”:
The St. Louis Rams released defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, the team announced.
Sam’s efforts to become the first openly gay player in NFL history came up just short in a competition against undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks.
Michael Sam had a team-high six tackles in the Rams’ final preseason game but didn’t make the 53-man roster.
Westbrooks is one of nine defensive linemen to land a roster spot.
Sam officially hit waivers Saturday at 4 p.m. ET when all NFL teams had to trim their rosters down to the league-mandated 53 players. From there, the other 31 teams will have until noon ET on Sunday to put in a claim for Sam. If he goes unclaimed, he will be free to sign with a practice squad.
According to one league source, the Rams would like to bring Sam back to their 10-man practice squad.
The Rams spent a seventh-round draft pick, No. 249 overall, on Sam in May’s draft. In arriving in St. Louis, Sam joined a team about two hours from the Missouri campus where he went to school, but also one loaded with defensive line talent. Sam put together a solid preseason performance, coming up with 11 tackles and three sacks. In Thursday night’s preseason finale against Miami, Sam finished his preseason work with a team-high six tackles.
After the game, coach Jeff Fisher offered an endorsement of Sam’s ability.
“I believe he can play in this league,” Fisher said.
The jettisoning of Sam is likely the end of yet another episode of the intersection of professional sports and politics. The happiest man in America right now has to be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell whose league has been divested itself of what was going to be an ongoing media circus. Especially in an election year with the Democrats desperate and swarming to avoid their coming ass-whipping. Tuesday November 4th is going to make the Seattle Seahawks 43-8 dismantling of the over-matched Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl look line a nail-biter in comparison.
It does the league no good in marketing terms to attempt to sell it’s product in an ever more divisive America that shows no signs of doing anything other than fragmenting further along political, religious and ideological lines. I personally never was down with the whole Tim Tebow thing either and his caravan of fervent Christian worshippers and the politics of it all just drained the joy from watching the games. The man just couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean on a consistent basis and had no future as an NFL quarterback. It takes away from the game whenever the culture wars spill over into a realm in which most of us expect a tiny bit of refuge and escape for at least one brief afternoon a week. Spectator sports and cultural/political issues should remain isolated from each other as it is about the last place where we can all find some common ground and it is shrinking.
It is unfortunate that in the days to come the cutting of Sam, a mediocre player who likely would have been let go regardless of his sexual identity will be turned into yet another divisive wedge issue by those who traffic in such matters.