Michael Sam facing familial hurdle

Michael Sam facing familial hurdle
February 11, 2014, 5:00 pm
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While Michael Sam seems to have plenty of support within the NFL community, his own father didn't have the most tolerant reaction to his son's coming out. 

For every odd tweet or rogue opinion on Michael Sam, there is this, from the New York Times, that shows just how much he has endured just to get to where he is now. His father alone sounds like the kind of dad that makes people wish they were raised by their grandparents. From the story, by Joe Drape, Billy Witz and Steve Eder:

Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message. “Dad, I’m gay,” he wrote.

The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Michael Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.

“I’m old-school,” he added. “I’m a man and a woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.

On Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news.

Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the N.F.L. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.” But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.”

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Two things: One, Deacon Jones honestly does not give a damn what Michael Sam is or is not. Two, who the hell goes to Applebee’s to depress-drink?

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Sometimes college archrivalries aren’t that charming at all, and most of the time it happens in Alabama (see Updyke, Harvey).

But it works the other way, too. Linebacker Rashaan Evans, who went to Auburn High School in Auburn, AL, signed with Alabama and as a result . . . well, let Evans tell it as he did to Rivals.com:

“Someone actually put out an article about my family’s business telling all Auburn fans not to go there. We are going to eventually start losing money. People are telling restaurants in the town not to serve us.

“It’s hard for me to go out and chill with my friends like I have always done because people keep coming up to me telling me I made a bad decision. It’s grown men. They are asking me why I did this to them. I told them I had to do what is best for me . . . people are going to the board at my school trying to get me in trouble. They are telling my teachers I am a bad kid and all this stuff.

“Social media has definitely been the worst. People on Instagram are telling me how they hope I tear my ACL in game one. They will laugh when I do. They are saying my family is horrible and how they didn’t raise me right. It’s just crazy.”

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And now, union news. Some minor league players are filing a class action suit against Major League Baseball and individual clubs (including the Giants) for violating federal wage laws. They’re right on that, of course, and they’ll all be out of baseball before they see a dime.

The lesson? You win when you have more lawyers and more time than they do, and athletes usually have neither.

In an unrelated development, former NBA player Danny Schayes showed interest in becoming the new head of the NBA players union, got taken for a quick walk and told he wasn’t a candidate. His story, via SheridanHoops.com:

The lesson? Keep your elbows up at all times.

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Michael Vick’s appearance at a gathering in Raleigh was going to be protested by a pit bull advocacy group, but in any event was canceled by bad weather. Even after all this time, even after all Vick’s apologies and speaking engagements in favor of animal rights, still. If that doesn’t tell you that good deeds as atonement for a bad one never weigh as much, nothing will.

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Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman said Tuesday they will retire as Astros, which of course they will not. They will retire as civilians. This tired old dodge has more than run its course and should never be taken seriously again. But if they want to go out and play one last time in spring training as Astros and then pack it in . . . that, we’ll go for.

Plus it would sell more tickets for that split-squad extravaganza against the Marlins.

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And finally, unless he ends up looking like Scarlett Johansson, Pierre The Pelican is badly overplaying this papier-mache head makeover.