‘Huddle with Harris’ is a blog of personal opinion, providing food for thought on a variety of sports topics. Disagreement with the chronology of words below is alright, after all, this is “Murica”
Every year the very last pick of the NFL Draft, pick number 256, earns the title “Mr. Irrelevant”
For the 2014 NFL Draft Mr. Irrelevant is Lonnie Ballentine, a safety from Memphis.
But after 3 days, 7 rounds, and 256 players the most talked about selection is a St. Louis Ram: Michael Sam.
For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, the Missouri defensive end becomes the first openly gay player to be drafted in league history.
Sam seeks to be the first openly gay player ever to play in the NFL
Moments after the St. Louis Rams made NFL history by drafting Sam, social media erupted with everything from congratulatory comments to hate-filled, insensitive, homophobia.
That was to be expected.
What I wasn’t expecting was the lack of understanding by those expressing the sentiment:
Why make a big deal about him being drafted?
255 other players got drafted too.
Yes, but while 255 other players did get drafted, none are like Michael Sam.
In fact, of all the men drafted dating back to the first-ever NFL Draft in 1936, no player has ever been like Michael Sam.
At least, admittedly.
The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the year, consensus first team All-American, Cotton Bowl winner, 6’2, 261-pound, African American, openly gay Michael Sam is a first.
Like Jackie Robinson.
Like the 1966 Texas Western basketball team.
Like Jesse Owens.
Michael Sam is the newest name added to a list of barrier-breakers, who deserve recognition, regardless of accomplishment, simply for being the first.
And kudos to the St. Louis Rams organization, an organization that has historically proven they’re not afraid to be the first.
How's this for irony?
Back on March 21st, 1946 the Rams signed the first African-American player to a contract, RB Kenny Washington.
Washington’s signing ended racial segregation in the NFL.
68 years later, on May 10th, 2014 the Rams draft the first openly gay player into the NFL.
Don’t get me wrong, Michael Sam still has a long and uncharted road ahead of him. He still has to prove he deserves a spot on a 53-man NFL roster.
Who knows, Michael Sam may never play a single NFL down. But that’s irrelevant.
Michael Sam is “Mr. Relevant” for not only the 2014 NFL Draft but for NFL history.