Why I Don't Have A Problem With Michael Sam's Oprah Documentary (Or How He Withheld The News Until After The Draft)

  • Jake O'Donnell

If your company hired someone with a horse’s head instead of a human head, and Oprah wanted to film that horse-man’s life outside of work, would you give a shit?

I sure as shit wouldn’t.

I would, however, try and ride him around the office. Sorry, I’m an asshole.

This is what’s going on with the Michael Sam Oprah-funded documentary. It’s not going to directly interfere with the Rams’ day to day operations in anyway. It’s a non-issue. Nothing.

[CBS] The Oprah Winfrey Network has tried to alleviate any fears that Sam might become a distraction by announcing that none of the documentary will be filmed at Rams minicamp, OTA’s or training camp.

But that’s not the entirety of people’s outrage about his decision to “spring” this documentary on his “not yet current employer” after they “kinda sorta hired him.” People are mad that Sam withheld the information that he would be participating in a documentary — not a reality show like Chad Johnson’s Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch — and waited until a team extended itself to sign him under the pretense he wouldn’t make his selection all about him.

Um, of course he didn’t say something — if he was Johnny Manziel and was asked to be in a documentary, they would’ve been filming promos for it during his Junior year at A&M. Are people mad because they think he should have made the information about the documentary public? Why? That assumes that being in an off field documentary is in anyway problematic.

It’s not.

For starters, a documentary just follows someone around. It’s literally the least invasive endeavor a player can involve himself with. There won’t be contrived story lines about fights with boyfriends and gags where he steps in poop at the Rams mini-camp — it will most likely be interviews with Sam and shots of him working out and gazing at ducks on a pond while a voiceover talks about feelings.


People also seem to be pissed about Sam’s insistence that he just wanted to make his transition to the pros about football and only football. Do you know what a documentary even is? It’s not an art film where he’ll have to chain himself to a bridge and protest a war. It’s not Godzilla 2 being shot on location in Guam. It’s the least invasive type of media in existence — and it does absolutely nothing to change Sam’s commitment to, or focus on football.

The only people who seem to lose focus about his documentary are the anonymous teammates who are totally jealous because no one gives a rat’s ass about their off field life.

The real issue, I believe, is that people have decided Michael Sam is getting too much attention for the wrong reasons. That might very well be true, but let me ask you this: Is there anyone in the 2014 NFL draft class that wouldn’t gladly agree to a documentary about his or her life?

Would you turn it down?

Of course not, which is why I think his decision to acquiesce Oprah’s offer is not only acceptable, but actually more about professional football than people recognize. It’s a team sport filled with attention starved, underpaid, critically injured, often anonymous players who rarely are recognized in public (if you could pick out seven of your favorite squad’s special teamers out of a crowd, I’d give you $100).

Honestly, agreeing to build a brand at the behest of a media mogul is just about the most football thing I can think of. Who can fault him for that?