When #249 Made News

2014 NFL Combine Michael Sam

 

I tried to find some significance to the number 249 on Google this morning, and I just kept coming up short.

There’s some Chinese Medicine with 249 in it.
There’s a hotel called 249
The Sudanese country code is 249, but let’s be honest, who’s really calling Sudan?
Disappointed, I started thinking, You know what?  249 is pretty insignificant.  

That is, until you’re the first openly gay football player drafted to the NFL at #249.  That’s what happened last Sunday at the conclusion of the NFL draft.  In fact there were only seven players left to be picked, but Sam made the cut.  Barely.

Look, getting in the NFL is a great accomplishment.  I think the odds are somewhere near getting hit by lightning while standing in a Colorado river as a bear chases you for the salmon meal you stole from him on your fly-line.  Bottom Line:  Congratulations is due.  If you can get drafted, you’re an incredible athlete at the top of your form.

Michael Sam was not only at the top of his form, he was the Southeastern Conferences Defensive Player of the Year.  I can hear the gasps.  That’s right!  The top defensive player, in arguably the most competitive conference in college football for the last decade had to wait until #249.

And the media goes NUTS!

They don’t go nuts because he was drafted.
No, there were 248 players in front of him.
The media coverage on this story is all about Michael Sam’s outward homosexuality that makes the news.
And to be honest:  I’m a little like…Really?

1.  Being Gay is not the same as Being African American

Look, I have to pose a disclaimer here.  I have a lot of gay friends who talk openly about their sexuality.  We laugh, joke, live life together, just like any other heterosexual friend.  I’m not homophobic.  I don’t have any skeletons in my closet.  So as you read forward, please note, I have nothing but love for my gay friends, but this story kind of makes me sick.

First of all, if you’re gay, and Michael Sam is your representation of Jackie Robinson’s integration of African Americans in the MLB, I’m sorry.  Michael Sam hasn’t even taken a snap yet.  We don’t even know if he’ll survive the NFL.  Just because he got drafted isn’t like the gates to freedom have opened up and all things are equal.  We’ve got a long ways to go first.

Sam has to prove he deserves to be there.
He has to work.
He has to put in the time.
Think of all the college players who’ve gone on to the NFL and we never hear from them again.
There’s a lot between draft and role model behavior.  Take it easy.

And for all the pundits trying to compare Michael Sam to Jackie…you’re foolish.

No gay man was ever owned by a plantation owner.
No gay man was transported across the ocean to be sold to another human.
No gay man was ever beaten for his lack of productivity.
Slavery is not the same as being gay.
Stop trying to frame the argument that way.

Homosexuals certainly have a right to talk about equality under the law, and I know a lot of my friends were ashamed of coming out.  They felt the pressure of disappointing their families, being held at a different standard as their peers at work or school, and sometimes even made fun of or suffered persecution for being gay.  But come on!

I, and my gay friends, find it morally reprehensible that the media continues to compare being gay to being a slave.  That’s just the crazy hyperbole the news has to use to get our attention today, and it makes us all dumber.  So let’s stop being dumb and call it was it is.

A good player just got the opportunity to prove he’s a great player, and oh yea…He’s Gay.

2.  You’re Gay…So What?

It’s 2014.
We’ve come through a long history of discrimination for a lot of different people.
But today we have television shows with Gay People.  Gay Pride Parades through all major cities.  Even Disney World gives the homosexual community an entire week to show they are a part of the world and they shouldn’t be ashamed.

Ok…now what?
What’s next?
How much more does a community need to feel as though they’re accepted and loved?

This idea that Michael Sam receive so much attention from players, fans, and news outlets is a bit strange to me.

He’s gay…so what?

Do we really still live in a world that #249 should be the headline of the story of the NFL draft apart from his ability to play football?

Let’s say he turns out to be the greatest NFL player of all time, why can’t we celebrate THAT?

But instead, we’ve mounted this enormous pressure on a kid.  That’s right, he’s only in his early 20’s, and now has to go out and prove that he’s worth being drafted, and oh by the way….

Everyone is wondering if he’ll be accepted in the locker room
Everyone is watching if he’ll play the victim card when he gets cut (everyone gets cut sometime)
Everyone is going to wonder if he’s being discriminated against by the front office, or jeered by the fans

Not based on his performance, but because of his sexuality?

Sorry.  I don’t watch football to see who is made fun of for whatever reason.  Bottom line:  Can he stop the offense or not.  Who cares if he’s gay, straight, tall, skinny, fat, short, slow, fast, christian, atheist, or whatever other adjective you want to use.  Remember, IT’S 2014!!

That’s a bit much for a normal human to handle.  But hey, maybe Michael Sam is more than a normal human.

I can hear critics reading this post right now saying, How can this guy be so insensitive.  Doesn’t he know there are still places in America where Homosexuals are discriminated against.  Of course I do.  And I’m not saying anything to the contrary other than sometimes we make such a big deal about stuff that’s just, well…not a big deal.

Nobody from the millennial generation is touting this as a big win for homosexuals.
In fact, most of my millennial friends are like, REALLY?  WHATS THE BIG STORY HERE?

And you want to know why that is?

They care about people for being people.

3.  The Jesus Way

I think today’s Millenials have figure it out.

They don’t see people in lieu of skin color, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion, etc.  They see people as people.

Of course there are places in the country where you can find exceptions, but overall; I find today’s students are willing to engage with just about anybody.  (albeit on Instagram, but that’s for a mother post.)

As I continue to try and search for the heart of Jesus in the world today, I’m really excited for Michael Sam.  What an accomplishment!!  He’s been drafted!! AWESOME!!

It’s not my place to write any personal mean blogs about who Michael Sam kisses,  or what his personal life is going to be like behind the cameras.  No.  I think the Jesus way is to walk alongside my friends trying to understand why this is a bigger issue.

The bigger issue is that some of my friends are walking around ashamed of themselves and ashamed of what they are.  They don’t see themselves in the same way God sees them.  They think they’re a mistake.  They think God made them abnormal.  In fact, many of them think that God chose them to be the example of judgement, rather than the hope filled redeemable people that every other ‘normal’ person is.

I don’t think Jesus would sit back and just be an armchair quarterback for morality.

The way I read Jesus dealing with similar issues in His day was to reach out to the people who feel beat down.  He cared for people, no matter what they were dealing with in life, and He reached into their soul to give them hope.  He wasn’t afraid what His own tribe thought, He just said, “I am the way the truth and the life…”

Wouldn’t it be a great testament to the world if Jesus followers sought to give life to people, rather than start preaching of judgement and condemnation.  I’ve heard so many people just roll their eyes at the television when the Sam story comes up.  This country is going to hell in a hand basket. (I actually heard that phrase Sunday night.)

So, what if it is?

Should we just turn our vile on people and spew venom of judgement and hate?  Or should our hearts swell with care and concern for people, just because they’re people?

Maybe being created in the image of God is enough for you and I to see others where they are, not where we think they should be, and be kind.  Show mercy.  Love Grace.  Be people of Celebration.  Maybe, we can stop making the stories of Michael Sam about his sexual orientation, and more about how much we care for Michael Sam as a person, made in the image of God.

That’s what the Bible says.

Let me know what you think

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