The good news is that St. Louis Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam has survived the first round of cuts on Tuesday. The bad news is he’s in the center of some controversy not of his causing. Sam is on a quest to become the first openly gay active player in NFL history to make a roster, but for some reason his showering habits was brought up in an ESPN segment that aired Tuesday.
The reporting was not good for a player who just wants to be seen as a football player. Although one of the recurring questions about how players will react and adjust to openly gay players in the locker room, Sam’s showering habits seemed a bit too much. In the report, ESPN reporter Josina Anderson reported that Rams teammate Kendall Langford said Sam is “one of the guys and seems to be taking a rookie approach in terms of listening and learning at his own pace.”
That was fine and based solely on football, but then the segment took a turn when she quoted an unnamed Rams defensive player’s position on how Sam handles showering with teammates. Anderson said, “Another defensive player told me Sam is ‘respecting our space’ and from his perspective he seems to think Michael Sam is kind of waiting to take a shower so as to not make his teammates feel uncomfortable.”
The segment drew backlash for the 24-hour sports network and one Rams player didn’t like it at all. Veteran defensive end Chris Long took to Twitter and let his opinion on the reporting be known. He tweeted, “Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.”
When it comes to possible distractions in the locker room, it appears that the reporting has become more of an annoyance to the players than the player himself. Right now the focus for Michael Sam and Rams players is making the final 53-man roster and preparing for the upcoming NFL season.