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The NFL Draft Hysteria.

With his boyfriend at his side, Michael Sam received a phone call from the Rams telling him he would be selected with the 249th overall pick.  (caption and image courtesy of ESPN>com)

With his boyfriend at his side, Michael Sam received a phone call from the Rams telling him he would be selected with the 249th overall pick. (caption and image courtesy of ESPN.com)

The NFL held its yearly draft starting last Thursday and extending into the weekend.

There were four stories that were breathlessly and relentlessly reported on by the media.

The first story was that of the number one pick, Jadeveon Clowney going to the Houston Texans. The number one pick is always a big deal. The number two story was probably the fall of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel falling from what many thought was a fight to be picked in the top spot to being drafted 22nd.

Locally, the drafting of Blake Bortles from the University of Central Florida by the Jacksonville Jaguars caught a lot of buzz. The third pick in the draft, Bortles was the first quarterback taken in the 2014 draft. His ties UCF as well as playing his high school ball at Oveido High School in Oveido, Florida should help sell tickets to Jags games. Bortles’ largest adjustment may being having to learn to play in front of crowds smaller than he has seen since playing Pop Warner football.

But the biggest story of them all may have been the drafting of Michael Sam, a 6’2″ defensive lineman and co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC last year from the University of Missouri. Sam’s being drafted in the 7th round by the St. Louis rams with the 249th pick would normally not be a big deal except for the fact that in January, Sam announced he is gay which means he will be the first openly gay person in the NFL. (To put that pick in perspective, the 249th pick is a mere seven picks from the end of the draft.)

Thousands upon thousands of words have been written on what St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher called “historic.” Miami Dolphins’ general manager Dennis Hickey said:

It’s a celebration. … I think it’s a great thing for the league.”

Even President Obama took the time to send out a message:

The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey,” the statement, which a White House official emailed to ABC News, read. “From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”

Of course if being “judged by what you do and not who you are” is the way we should look at people, then why does Michael Sam being gay matter at all? To us it certainly doesn’t. If the guy can play in the NFL, he can play. Period.

However, when Sam himself and the media interject his sexuality into the discussion, that is going to get responses.

After Sam was drafted, the NFL / ESPN broadcast Sam kissing his boyfriend.

(The fact that a television crew was in the home of the 249th player drafted shows how the media was focusing on Sam’s sexuality rather than judging or commenting upon “what you do and not who you are.”)


Don Jones
of the Miami Dolphins reacted in less than a positive manner to the kiss.

Jones took to Twitter on Saturday soon after Sam was drafted and tweeted “OMG” and “horrible.” He later deleted the tweets.

The Dolphins reacted swiftly:

I was made aware of it and I was disappointed in those comments,” [general manager Dennis] Hickey said Saturday night. “That’s not what we stand for as an organization. The draft weekend is a culmination for so many players, their lifetime achievement of their dream to achieve a goal for Michael Sam and all the other players.

“It’s a celebration. … I think it’s a great thing for the league.”

Hickey also said the team plans to “sit down with Don Jones and address [the comments] and handle it appropriately.”

MIAMI — The Miami Dolphins have fined second-year defensive back Don Jones an undisclosed amount and excused him from the team following critical remarks toward Michael Sam, who this weekend became the first openly gay athlete drafted by an NFL team.

….

He met with Dolphins brass about his comments Sunday, before the team ruled on his punishment. He must undergo educational training before he can return to the Dolphins, according to the team.

Even an apology by Jones could not stop him being removed from the team.

I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media,” Jones said. “I take full responsibility for them, and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team, and I wish him all the best in his NFL career.

“I sincerely apologize to Mr. [Stephen] Ross, my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for these tweets. I am committed to represent the values of the Miami Dolphins organization and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to do so going forward.”

Some claim that Jones has the right of free speech under the First Amendment, but as Jones is not being told to keep quiet by the government, the First Amendment doesn’t apply here.

To a great extent, if Jones is speaking as a member of the Miami Dolphins, he can be held accountable for the comments he makes.

However, we wonder what the “educational training” Jones will have to undergo before he is allowed back onto the team. (Is it us or does “educational training” sound like the “reeducation camps” of the USSR?” Send Jones to the gulag!)

This is a dangerous area. Assume for a moment that Jones’ condemnation is based on his religious beliefs. Are the Dolphins really going to try and “educate” him that his religious beliefs are wrong? Are the Dolphins really going to try and tell a player that he cannot play because of his religious beliefs?

Whether you agree with Jones or not is not the issue. Jones’ religious beliefs are as protected under the 14th Amendment as is Sam’s sexuality.

The Dolphins’ “educational training” should only focus on whether Jones is speaking as a member of the team, and how his speech reflects the team and its values. That’s it.

The “education” should take about 2 minutes, if that.

In short, Sam wants his football career to be judged on what he does on the field, and not his beliefs off of it. Jones should be given the same latitude. Judge Jones for what he does on the field and not his beliefs off of it.

True equality begins with having the same standards for all.



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