The NFL is not about football. It is about changing the culture of America. There’s no other explanation for the massive amounts of media coverage of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. In fact, watching ESPN on Saturday night you would have thought that he was the only player drafted.
And the media would have been apoplectic if Sam hadn’t been drafted at all. The entire league would have been considered ‘homophobic’, and that’s the real reason why the St. Louis Rams drafted Sam late in the 7th round. No team in the league wanted to have to deal with something like this:
A negative one-word tweet from Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones about the drafting of Michael Sam drew a rebuke from the team.
Shortly after the St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round Saturday, Jones tweeted, “Horrible.” The tweet was taken down a short time later.
Notice that Don Jones didn’t use a negative slur. He didn’t disparage gays in any way. He didn’t say one word about Michael Sam the gay man. He was merely expressing his opinion about Michael Sam the football player. And the odds are that Mr. Jones will be fined and possibly even suspended for that.
So I’m not going to focus on Michael Sam the gay man. That’s a red herring. Instead, let’s take a closer look at Michael Sam the football player. Mr. Sam played defensive end at the University of Missouri. Last season, Sam recorded 11.5 sacks. The media would have you believe that Sam is a great defensive player who fell in the draft because he announced that he was gay last February.
The problem with that belief is that Michael Sam was an average college football player at best. The record shows that he recorded 9 of his 11.5 sacks last year in only 3 games (against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt, and Florida). In the remaining 9 games on the Missouri schedule, he had only 1.5 sacks. And in the SEC championship game against Auburn, Sam was almost invisible, recording only 3 total tackles. NFL scouts noticed.
Even before his historic announcement, Sam’s strength and size were question marks dogging his draft stock. At 6’2″ and 261 pounds, he is not a prototypical size for a defensive lineman.
The real reason why Michael Sam didn’t get drafted until the end of the 7th round (and shouldn’t have been drafted at all) is because of his lack of strength, explosiveness, and speed. Let’s take a look at his measurables from the NFL combine.
Michael Sam is 6’2″ tall and weighed 261 pounds at the NFL combine. This means that he is too small to play the same position in the NFL that he played in college (defensive end). The average defensive end in the NFL is 6’4″ and weighs 283 pounds.
Since he is too small to play defensive end in the NFL, Sam was projected as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The average linebacker in the NFL is 6’2″ tall and weighs 246 pounds. As you can see, Sam is the right size to play linebacker.
The problem is that he is too weak and too slow to play linebacker in the NFL. Sam only completed 17 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Only one other defensive lineman/linebacker did fewer reps. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds and did the 3-cone drill in 7.8 seconds. Both times are considered slow for a linebacker:
He was whistled three times for mistakes on his starts and ran a 4.79-second unofficial time on his first attempt and 4.84 seconds on his second (4.91 officially). Among those who participated, Sam’s times were far more in line with defensive tackles than defensive ends.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports pointed out Sam’s numbers and graded him out as a situational player at best:
Michael Sam showed at the SR Bowl that he won’t be a LB in the NFL. His times today back that up. Nickel rusher, not a lock to make a roster.
Additionally, Sam has many other weaknesses that did not go unnoticed by the NFL scouts. From NFL.com:
Lacks burst and acceleration off the edge to get a step on blockers and finish. Sack production results from effort and production flushed to him and is not creatively produced with savvy pass-rush moves, speed, power or bend. Average hip flexibility and snap — struggles clearing his hips at the top of his rush and trimming the corner. Adequate anchor vs. the run. Is late to disengage from blocks. Does not strike with authority. Inconsistent tackler.
Compares favorably to Chargers 2009 first-round pick Larry English, an overhyped, overdrafted, marginal producer in the pros.
While it’s not impossible to believe that Michael Sam may turn out to be a good professional football player, the facts show that it is improbable. So why all the media hype?
Because the NFL stopped being about football a long time ago. It is now just another change agent seeking to undermine traditional morality in our society. This explains the feminization of professional football that began a few years ago when the NFL mandated that teams wear pink every October. It was explained as a way for the NFL to expand it’s fan base to women.
In reality, it was a way for the NFL to emasculate the players and men who watched the games. The emasculation has continued with myriad rule changes that are turning NFL games into glorified flag football. Hard hits that used to be legal are now 15-yard penalties. And some players can barely be hit at all.
Unfortunately, newer rules in the NFL have put a serious damper on the game. Players can now be fined or suspended for hits that are defined as dangerous or excessive, offensive linemen are allowed to extend their arms to block defenders, and quarterbacks have essentially become untouchable with rules that limit hitting to their midsection with the minimal amount of force necessary to achieve knockdowns. If these rules persist the NFL may as well completely remove all offensive and defensive linemen and limit defensive secondaries to playing pass coverage.
As I wrote in the linked post from last year:
Here’s my question for Goodell and the owners: why don’t you just get rid of all of the padding and helmets already? Just give all of the players pink flags, and make the fact that the NFL is now more flag football than anything else. At least then we wouldn’t have to put up with pink on players’ uniforms every October.
I’m not the only fan who has been turned off by the modern NFL.
However, I have been disturbed over the last few seasons of NFL football. I have watched as players were fined and penalized for playing the way they had been taught to play and had been encouraged to play for decades in their career. Suddenly, a corporate bureaucrat makes a decision and what last year was hardnosed football becomes a penalty with serious import to the outcome of games.
I have complained privately and griped my way through several seasons as a very dissatisfied customer of the product into which the NFL commissioner’s office has twisted professional football.
What remains of the NFL clearly closely resembles the game of football I knew and loved. But it is no longer a delight and a contest. It is merely a few steps away from a lingerie league.
Fittingly, today the NFL was playing to raise awareness of breast cancer. All the accents were pink … including the official’s flags and even the flashing TV graphic indicating a penalty had been called. It’s official. The NFL is now formally awash in estrogen …
You can decide for yourself if you want to continue to support an organization the NFL. As for me:
Adios, NFL. You were great once, but now you are just a caricature of what you once were. I’m done.
UPDATE: well, that didn’t take long: Don Jones was fined and suspended for his tweet. The NFL is now the National Fascist League….