There’s nothing NFL organizations despise more than the nebulous boogeyman that is “distractions.” Things that aren’t football that keep you away from doing football.
That’s why so many teams are loathe to sign up for the behind-the scenes training camp show Hard Knocks, and why, no homo, so many franchises were unwilling to draft Michael Sam.
It’s not, the line of bullshit reasoning goes, because they have anything against his sexuality, but because they didn’t want to deal with the distraction, whatever the fuck that may be. Having to coach the outside linebacker to not sexually penetrate his teammates during every gang tackle. Takes away from game planning.
The league itself has the same batshit mentality, because of course it does. And an even bigger circus, they knew, would ensue if every single one of their 32 homophobic owners didn’t draft Sam. So they offered a team a deal to get rid of their headache. Take one quote-unquote distraction and avoid another.
From St. Louis radio station 590 The Fan and NFL reporter Howard Balzer:
It’s been almost two years since the St. Louis Rams selected defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. At the time, the Rams were hailed for being progressive and drafting the first openly gay player in the National Football League. It turns out, according to multiple sources, that the league agreed not to ask the Rams to appear that year on HBO’s yearly summer series, Hard Knocks, if they drafted Sam.
The Rams, as you probably know, were picked for this year’s Hard Knocks. But in 2014? Fisher seemed confident the team wouldn’t be chosen
[In] 2014, about two weeks after the draft and the selection of Sam, Fisher was asked about the possibility of the league picking the Rams for the TV show. If no team volunteers to be a part of Hard Knocks, the league can pick a team that hasn’t been on the show for 10 years, or doesn’t have a new head coach, or hasn’t made the playoffs for two years. The Rams qualified on all counts.
Fisher said, “We are eligible, but I think it’s highly unlikely they’d ask us to do it. I think this organization has a right to go through training camp with some normalcy.”
Hmmm. Posturing? Or confidence?
Could there be even more to arrangement? Balzer speculates:
One player still with the Rams is defensive end Ethan Westbrooks, who earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent the same year as Sam. His story is an interesting postscript to the Sam saga. The Rams were high on Westbrooks, and he was apparently the team’s target for one of their two late seventh-round picks. However, center Demetrius Rhaney was selected one spot after Sam, as it would have been unseemly to take Westbrooks there.
There is no direct evidence that the teams picking after the Rams were urged (told?) not to draft Westbrooks, but would anyone be surprised if that was the case as a thank-you to the Rams for taking everyone off the hook?
Fisher, for his part, on Mike and Mike, called the allegations “absurd.”
“That in itself is absolutely absurd, it’s 100 percent incorrect,” Fisher said. “I was really taken aback by those comments. It’s insulting, from my standpoint, as it relates to Michael. We had three seventh-round picks. When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board. Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?”
Yea and Kit Harrington swears, fucking swears, Jon Snow ain’t coming back.
Sam was cut before the 2014 season started. As noted, Westbrooks is still with the team.
[H/T Fox Sports]