Following the footsteps of MSNBC last year, The Daily Beast has taken it upon themselves to label the NFL's first (prospectively) openly gay football player Michael Sam “The NFL’s Jackie Robinson.” Sam, who played defensive end for the University of Missouri, came out to his teammates last August but only recently announced publicly that he is homosexual. Last year, MSNBC’s openly gay host Thomas Roberts compared the NBA’s Jason Collins to Jackie Robinson and today Ben Jacobs decided the ridiculous comparison was appropriate of Sam.
Other than the fact that Michael Sam, if drafted, of course, will be the first openly gay NFL player, Jacobs failed to explain why the college athlete is comparable to Jackie Robinson. In fact, other than on The Daily Beast’s homepage, there was no other mention of Robinson in the entire piece.
While the article itself was fairly straightforward, the author’s need to compare Sam to Robinson, a man who because of the color of his skin was on the receiving end of numerous racial slurs and was the target of violence on the field by opponents, is unnecessary and diminishes the hall of fame career Jackie Robinson had in baseball.
What's more, Jacobs admitted that “Sam’s sexuality did not seem to cause many distractions for his Missouri teammates” and The Daily Beast contributor could not site any hostility directed towards Sam for being gay, something that was not said when Mr. Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier.
While Sam may perhaps go on to have a hall of fame-worthy career in the NFL, it is inappropriate to draw such comparisons to Robinson before he even sets foot on an NFL field. What's more, it's completely unfair to Sam, who should be judged for his athletic prowess, not as a symbol of a political agenda. On top of that, unlike Robinson, Sam’s introduction into the professional sports world has been met with nothing but praise and support. In fact, the media has since fawned over the announcement, with CBS News’ Charlie Rose claiming that this was a “watershed moment” for the NFL.