Saturday, April 10, 2021

The shattered fate of Michael Sam, an American football hopeful victim of his coming out

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Around the table, diners share bursts of laughter and a peach pie baked in the southern United States. This Saturday, February 8, 2014, at his home in Los Angeles, the legendary press attaché Howard Bragman brought together a few friends, most of them retired high-level American football players: veteran David Kopay (71), who notably played for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s; Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings; Wade Davis, former Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins; and Baltimore Raven alumnus Brendon Ayanbadejo.

In addition to a few other guests, a near-unknown: Michael Sam, 24, 1.88 meters, 118 kilos, defenseman from the University of Missouri at Columbia and recently elected by the Associated Press as the best varsity defender in the Conference of the South East (Southeastern Conference) – the elite at university level.

The evening’s program delighted the assembly: a passage in a karaoke where the young defender planned to sing My Girl, des Temptations, then head to The Abbey, the legendary gay bar in West Hollywood. The start of the meal set the tone. Between two dishes ordered at the local Chinese restaurant, David Kopay has fun throwing a few punches in the arm of Michael Sam. “You’re going to have to play, he repeats to her between each shock, not just for you, but also for everyone else! “

A historic announcement

Howard Bragman takes advantage of the commotion to toast David Kopay, whom he designates as a “Pioneer for LGBTQ + rights in American football”. The second tribute of the evening concerns Michael Sam, the “Real hero” from the moment. In less than twenty-four hours, an article will be published in the New York Times and an interview will be given on the ESPN sports channel. Facing the camera, the young defender will declare: “I’m Michael Sam, I’m a soccer player and I’m gay. “

He is the first to make this courageous statement. A historic coming out, even before signing as a professional player in one of the 32 NFL franchises, the National Football League. Among the guests that Saturday, all the former American football stars present worked for LGBTQ + rights in their discipline and in sport in general. These players revealed their sexual orientation to the general public, but only after their careers were over. “A lot of players don’t want to lose the aura, the gifts and the opportunities that come with being an American football player, even retired,” says Wade Davis, present at the famous dinner, and the risk is much greater if you are publicly gay. “

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