The news of Michael Sam’s sexuality and the reaction and the reaction to the reaction and the rest of the often insufferable sports media machine is now in its second or third day, depending on how you measure such things, but we can go ahead and shut down the competition for Stupidest Thing Said.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
The Stupidest Thing Said is not that Sam did this for attention, or that he should respect the insecurities and ignorance of the homophobic and kindly stay in the closet, or even that those of us with the audacity to suggest acceptance of Sam and other human beings should stop and think and be more tolerant of those who are intolerant.
No, The Stupidest Thing Said is the first quote in this story on Sports Illustrated’s website:
“… at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game … It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room."
Even if we can ignore the part about the chemical imbalance, that Sam’s inclusion on an NFL roster would cause OMG IT’S A GAY GET HIM AWAY BEFORE WE ALL DISSOLVE!!! these words still work as a clinic of ignorance, and I use that word intentionally and meaningfully because it works in both the micro and macro.
Those words are ignorant because they imply that a gay man cannot be “a man’s-man," and they imply that there haven’t already been many, many gay men among the thousands and thousands to play this “man’s-man” game.
But step away from the civil rights part of this, and there is still some breathtaking ignorance on a lower level here. Because here is a man lobbing derogatory spit balls from the cloak of anonymity, calling into question Michael Sam’s manliness?
Three of Sam’s siblings are dead. Two are in jail. He worked and built himself from a two-star nobody from a nothing town in Texas to a unanimous All-America and the co-defensive player of the year in the baddest college football conference in the land. He’s a college graduate. He had the guts to do something that is believed to be unprecedented, coming out as a gay man in the macho-crazed world of big-time college football. He then proved to be one of the best football players in the country, leading Missouri to one of its best seasons in program history a year after going 5-7.
Meanwhile, some mouth-breathing football man is lobbing derogatory spit balls from the cloak of anonymity, calling into question Michael Sam’s manliness?
One of these two men does not belong in a “man’s-man” world, alright.
This week’s eating recommendation is the veal spiedini at Garozzo’s, and the reading recommendation is Berry Tramel on Marcus Smart.
As always, thanks for the help and for reading.
Let me tell you something about a so-called “man” who hates BBQ. This man is a problem. This man is a disease. This man is weak. Do not bring this man into your group of friends, because he will only be a distraction in your journey for good food and good times.
Maybe someday we will be at the point where this “man” deserves to be your friend, but not now. Eating barbecue is still a man’s-man meal. You should eradicate this man’s phone number. Having him around can only chemically imbalance a decent Saturday afternoon.
Hey everyone, before you freak out on Jordan, just remember: At Don’t Kill The Mellinger, and especially at Twitter Tuesday, we promote an atmosphere of not just tolerance for the taste bud challenge, but acceptance.
I mean, absolutely. Good for him. We sports media types take a lot of grief, and most of it is well earned, but this was a good moment for us.
Not as good as his team, though. His teammates and coaches set the tone with this, not only supporting and loving Sam but also throwing down a not-so-subtle challenge to whatever NFL team is lucky enough to draft him:
What, a bunch of college kids are more mature than the almighty NFL?
@mellinger Could it be that an NFL team won't take Sam because they don't want to deal with the media and not because Sam is gay?— Neil (@neilcarnes40) February 10, 2014
There will be stories like this, probably quoting anonymous talent evaluators, but that’s a weak sauce cop-out.
The idea of the NFL is to win games, and you do that with talented football players. If you win enough, you get a lot of attention because the NFL is the entertainment king of America. And if you win a whole lot, you make it all the way to the Super Bowl, which is an enormous and basically constant distraction and media circus.
So you’re telling me an NFL team would be scared about answering some questions in OTAs and training camp?
Guys. Manti Te’o either made up or was so incredibly gullible that he was fooled into falling in love with a fake girlfriend. This became public in an amazingly trainwreck sort of way. And the Chargers drafted him in the second round.
It’s 2014. A gay man is a bigger distraction than THAT?
Also … the idea that Sam could or should lose draft position and in turn money so that teams can accommodate intolerant and often less talented players so they’re not bothered by progress should be rejected by anyone with a brain or a heart.
I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t think so. We can help here. It sure would be a shame if progress in gay people being treated like normal human beings gets in the way of something as important as the Menu-Courey case.
I actually hadn’t thought about this until you asked it here. It’s human nature to be interested by the next story and to move on — part of why the whole “distraction" thing with Sam is so silly — but this is one we should and will come back to.
I think the world of how Menu-Courey’s parents are handling an impossible situation. There has to be something tangible to come of this, some stitch of improvement.
I mentioned here a few weeks ago that the Smokeshow is pregnant, and this Sam thing made me realize that there is every possibility in the world that when our child is older he will say something like: “Wait. So there was a time that people thought gay men couldn’t or shouldn’t play professional football?"
Unfortunately, that time is not now. I wrote this in the column the other day^, but it’ll be great when football players or any other young person won’t need to announce their sexual orientation for the same reason they don’t need to announce their favorite breakfast cereal today.
^ If there was ever a Twitter Tuesday drinking game, “Take a shot whenever Sam links to an old column” would for sure be a rule.
But that day is not this one. Progress takes time. Crawl before you walk, walk before you crawl. Those who are on the wrong side of history with the major civil rights issue of our time will catch up or be left behind.
Rustin Dodd beat you to that joke…
…and speaking of jokes, there was a mad rush to this one.
Which is one example of why sports are great.
Do you have any idea how many times per day I’m called something worse than that?
And, yeah, I don’t think that’s all the guy said, though I am willing to concede the point that what Marcus Smart heard and reacted to may be different than what this idiot said^.
@mellinger more disappointed or impressed at the lack of "is Marcus smart" puns?— adam newman (@adamnewman913) February 10, 2014
Shocked, and proud.
OK, well, aside from the possible Nos. 1^ and 2 picks in the upcoming NBA draft, Marcus Smart is still a projected top 5 pick and putting up basically the same statistical season that had him as the player of the year last season.
^ Though Joel Embiid may be hitting a wall, and also may miss some games.
Then there are the following: Juwan Staten (league’s leading scorer), Melvin Ejim (20.3 ppg, including 48 on 24 shots the other night and a glorious shot chart), Buddy Hield, DeAndre Kane, Marcus Foster, Perry Ellis, Isaiah Taylor, and there are a few others you can argue for at least second-team.
That’s at least 10. So, yeah.
I’ve thought about this question for most of a day now. It has haunted me. It has confused me. It has engaged me.
The answer is yes.
Yes, I would eat this B.O. sandwich.
I mean, you’re telling me this is guaranteed to be the best sandwich I’ll ever eat?
Forget would I?
I want to eat this B.O. sandwich.
I’m a Southwest shill, mostly because it’s easy and they let you change flights for free. But beware of the signing/amateur comedian flight attendants. They’re the worst.
Also, if you’re flying somewhere now, and you want domestic, go to San Diego. If you can wait until the summer, go to Chicago. If you’re going international, the answers are Costa Rica and Vancouver.
Oh, and one more thing: if the jerk in front of you leans his/her chair back, you have my full support to passive-aggressively knee the back of the chair throughout the entire flight.
I’m with you now, but in six months, I’ll be wondering why BBQ seems to taste better in the summer.
There is no wrong answer to this question.
@mellinger Is it just me or is there less Olympic hype than usual this year?— Ben Davis (@bdaviskc) February 10, 2014
Winter Olympics have never really done it for me, which I guess could be said by anyone who’s not really into figure skating. There’s a mild interest in the hockey, which in some ways is better than the NHL.
But a lot of these events seem like strange hobbies for skiers with too much time on their hands, or a complete plagiarism of the X-Games.
@mellinger what would be a realistic expectation for Ventura and Zimmer's major league impact in 2014?— Ryan Heffernon (@Its_Heff) February 10, 2014
Not much for Zimmer. They’re going very slow with him, especially so with him finishing last season on the disabled list. You could see him in the second half of the season, but that’s only if everything goes very well.
For Ventura, I think 25 starts and 160 innings is a realistic expectation. Thirty-two starts and 190 innings is a realistic hope, and he’s as good of a breakout candidate as the Royals have.
Oh. This again?
Guys. I’ve told you all offseason this isn’t happening. I have not wavered. You should start believing me on these things.
@mellinger As a sign of complete respect for his courage, I will boo Michael Sam as a Missouri Tiger and nothing else. Rock Chalk.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) February 10, 2014