Updates from Friday, May 16
ESPN's Darren Rovell reports that Sam's documentary has been postponed:
BREAKING: The Michael Sam documentary series on OWN has been postponed— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 16, 2014
The Rams learned Sunday what the NFL knew before the draft: Sam had agreed to allow the Oprah Winfrey Network to produce a 'docu-series' on his journey to an NFL roster. Unbelievably, the league had signed off on the project unbeknownst to its 32 member teams.
If the Rams weren’t duped, they were at least gently misled by the league’s silence.
It’s one thing to not want a player because of his sexual orientation, entirely another to reject him because of the attendant circus that follows him into camp.
However, NFL's Greg Aiello quickly refuted the report:
Mike Florio of NBC Sports previously reported how the Rams plan to deal with Sam's documentary:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Rams intend to cooperate with Sam in a way that will make the entire situation — including reality show — work out for everyone.
It’s unknown whether the Rams knew about Sam’s plans for a reality show when drafting Sam. As best we can tell, the team wasn’t aware.
Updates from Thursday, May 15
Josina Anderson of ESPN.com spoke to an unnamed St. Louis Rams player about Michael Sam's reality show:
"It's an interesting case that he gets to work with Oprah and have his own show, but I think it does raise eyebrows and it may be somewhat of a distraction," the player told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "But this is our first time dealing with something like this, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out and how people react."
The player also isn't certain if teammates are truly embracing Sam's presence or just being politically correct when it comes to accepting the NFL's first openly gay player.
"Clearly I'm not sure how everyone feels, but from what I can tell so far I think it's a little bit of both, honestly," he said.
Ed Werder of ESPN also had more insight into the planning of the documentary:
Michael Sam agent concedes Rams weren't told about OWN documentary before drafted but were informed before network announcement yesterday.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) May 15, 2014
ESPN's Darren Rovell provides more details:
OWN has assured Sam camp that it is not shooting any part of series at Rams mini camp, OTAs or training camp.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 15, 2014
If you've grown tired of the coverage surrounding Michael Sam's historic journey to the NFL, it's probably time to turn off the TV—because the spotlight is only going to keep getting brighter.
Oprah Winfrey Network announced they will be making a documentary on Sam's journey with the Rams:
Sam commented on the documentary:
Looking forward to sharing my life and journey on @OWNTV with friends, family , and my faithful supporters— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) May 14, 2014
CapitalNewYork.com's Alex Weprin initially provided information on the nature of the documentary:
Whoa! OWN has picked up a"new multi-part documentary series following the life of Michael Sam."— Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) May 14, 2014
Per OWN: "Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot... while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player"— Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) May 14, 2014
The co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year made waves when he announced he was gay back in February, but the attention picked up during the 2014 NFL draft on Saturday. That was when ESPN showed footage of Sam kissing his boyfriend after being selected by the Rams in a historic move that made Sam the first openly gay player in the league.
As CNN's Holly Yan and Dave Alsup noted, reactions were all-encompassing. Many congratulated and welcomed Sam, while Miami Dolphins defensive back Don Jones was fined and suspended for his response on Twitter, and former Ole Miss basketball player Marshall Henderson allegedly used the moment to conduct a bizarre psychology experiment.
Will you watch this multi-part documentary?
Everyone from Conan O'Brien to John Oliver has weighed in on the topic, and no matter how you feel about Sam, it's impossible to deny that his particular situation is one that sparks debate.
That debate creates controversy, which in turn drives ratings. As such, it's not difficult to see why OWN is behind this documentary. Many will claim that we just need to let it go, but many will also tune in to watch as Sam attempts to become the first openly gay player to make an NFL roster.
Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch wonders how much of the show will be football-based:
Will be interesting to see how much NFL access? MT @alexweprin OWN has picked up a new multi-part doc series following life of Michael Sam.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 14, 2014
As for Sam, he'll have to make sure that this latest distraction, which sounds a lot like a reality show, doesn't detract from his focus on the gridiron. Following the draft, he explained that hearing his name called was only the first step, via ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner.
"I'm already focused on playing and trying to make the team," Sam said. "Eventually it will. But I understand that right now you guys want to make a big deal out of it. When this is over, I can start doing that as fast as possible."
No matter how the documentary ultimately affects Sam's performance on the field, though, it will undoubtedly offer a captivating glimpse into one of the most inspiring stories in NFL history.