Last week, as every American knows, was the National Football League (NFL) draft. Newspapers and the air waves were filled with the draft news, especially cities where there is a NFL team. Mizzou garnered considerable attention because of the Tigers’ talent players.
The player gaining the most publicity was Michael Sam, a defensive end, who was drafted almost last in the seventh round by the Rams. Players drafted that late usually don’t get that much attention except maybe in their hometowns and the college or university where they played. Sam announced that he was gay. To some people, that made him a hero and a darling of the media.
Sam was a good football player but the experts on players said he wasn’t a great player, or did not have the potential of Kony Ealy, another Mizzou player who was drafted by Carolina in the second round. He also is a defensive end. Sports Illustrated did a story earlier on Sam and said this about Ealy:
And yet he’s an afterthought — not the most buzzed-about Tigers defensive end in the 2014 NFL draft but the second most, thanks to Michael Sam, who announced in February that he is gay. To the 10 NFL teams that he visited in the past month, however, Ealy is no afterthought. He’s the Mizzou defensive end (most scouts grade Sam lower), the one whose stock has surged since his season ended . . .”
The story most of the media missed is that Ealy is devoted to his sister who is handicapped and speaks mostly in sign language. She has an extremely fragile bone structure, which was related in detail in the Sports Illustrated story. Ealy plans to take care of her. That’s his mission in his life, along with making it in the NFL. Sports llustrated should be commended for bringing out the humanitarian side of Ealy. Many in the media ignored that fact.
The publicity given to Sam was national. He should realize this makes him a marked player as to his ability to make the Rams’ team. The politically correct people think of Sam as a courageous individual and deserving of all the publicity he has generated. The Rams will try to treat him as any other player. He’s not going to be given special consideration and will have to prove, like any other rookie, that he’s got the ability to play in the NFL. That’s the way it should be.
The story of these two Mizzou football players tells us something about the values that rule in today’s America. The media and others consider one a hero. The other is the unsung hero who should be admired.