Despite the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Michael Sam being drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the first openly gay player in the NFL, the Big Three network morning shows on Monday all hyped a negative one-word tweet from another NFL player as evidence of a social media "backlash" against Sam, where "every creep and cretin" could attack him. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos touted Sam "making history," but fretted over "the backlash that blew up over his celebration sealed with a kiss," referring to Sam embracing his boyfriend as he got the news. In a later report, correspondent Mara Schiavocampo warned that "not everyone is celebrating the news," proclaiming: "It's sports history sealed with a kiss, and this morning, a little controversy."
On NBC's Today, correspondent Craig Melvin detailed the "backlash": "But not everyone is happy. Don Jones of the Miami Dolphins tweeted 'OMG,' and 'Horrible.' Jones deleted the tweets and apologized, but the Dolphins quickly fined the second-year player an undisclosed amount and suspended him until he completes sensitivity training."
In the segment that followed, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas lamented: "...1% of the people can make a whole lot of noise on social media....every creep and cretin on the planet can weigh in on every subject and every person, so he ought to stay away from that because it will not reflect how most people feel."
During the exchange with Costas, co-host Matt Lauer asserted that the NFL would not be "on the right side of history" until more gay players came out.
In a news brief on CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose reported:
This morning, the NFL's first openly gay draft pick is focused on making the team. Michael Sam is receiving mostly positive reaction, but Miami's Don Jones was fined by the Dolphins Sunday. The defensive back tweeted a message that said, quote, "Horrible." Jones apologized and will go through educational training.
Here is a full transcript of Schiavocampo's May 12 report:
7:01 AM ET TEASE:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Making history. Michael Sam now the first open gay player drafted by the NFL. Look at him get the news.
[CLIP OF SAM HUGGING HIS BOYFRIEND]
The backlash that blew up over his celebration sealed with a kiss.
7:15 AM ET SEGMENT:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, we're going to turn now to history in the NFL. Michael Sam drafted by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the first openly gay player ever drafted. There is the emotional moment when he got the word with his boyfriend. But Sam almost wasn't picked and he's now using that as motivation. ABC's Mara Schiavocampo is in the Social Square with his story. Good morning, Mara.
MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: Good morning, George. You know, that announcement is not only making history, it's getting a lot of attention. Take a look at Sam's jersey for sale online, the NFL tells us it's already a top seller. But not everyone is celebrating the news.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: First Openly Gay NFL Player; Michael Sam Breaking Barriers]
It's sports history sealed with a kiss, and this morning, a little controversy. Former University of Missouri football player Michael Sam celebrating with his boyfriend, moments after learning he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [NFL DRAFT]: The St. Louis Rams select Michael Sam.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Sam was eighth to last pick Saturday, taken in the seventh round, ending months of speculation about whether he would even be selected at all. While the defensive end was initially elated, he quickly turned to Monday morning quarterbacking about getting picked so late, writing on the Rams Twitter account late Saturday, "From last season alone, I should've been in the first three rounds."
HOWARD BRAGMAN [REPUTATION.COM]: Michael is really focused on the big picture. Michael's focusing on getting ready to go to St. Louis and to become a Ram.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Many congratulated Sam on the announcement, from President Obama to Sam's fellow athletes.
JASON COLLINS [BROOKLYN NETS]: I think it's a great day for the NFL.
MICHAEL SAM: I came to tell the world that I'm openly proud gay man.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: After coming out in February, he recently told Robin he hoped to be an inspiration to other gay athletes.
SAM: I think I could be a beacon for those people, a light – "Hey, I can be comfortable in my own skin and be like Michael Sam."
SCHIAVOCAMPO: But not everyone on the sidelines was cheering about how openly Sam celebrated with his boyfriend. Miami Dolphins defensive back Don Jones tweeting, "Horrible." That post has been deleted, Jones fined and temporarily excused from team activities. But some say it shows Sam will continue facing push-back off the field.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN [USA TODAY COLUMNIST]: These tweets tell us it's not going to be an easy road for Michael Sam, but I do think he'll be welcomed in St. Louis.
SCHIAVOCAMPO: Now, Jones has apologized for his, quote, "inappropriate" comments and lots of people have taken to social media about this. The St. Louis Rams Facebook page has been lighting up. Thousands of people clicking "Like" to show their enthusiasm for the team's choice and Sam's own tweet has gotten thousands and thousands of retweets and favorites. Robin, George.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Alright, Mara, thank you very much. And he's the first S.E.C. Defensive Player of the Year not to go in the first round since 2006, but did have a poor combine. He did do well in the one-on-one workouts. And it doesn't matter when you go, it's where you go, and he's in a great situation right now and this is going to fuel his desire to prove the critics wrong about his ability.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that. And in St. Louis he also has the luxury, in some ways, of having a big line in front of him so he can develop over time.
ROBERTS: Very good, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about that?
ROBERTS: You were watching that NFL Draft, weren't you? Now – I'm in awe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I had to surprise you this morning.
ROBERTS: You so did surprise me, because that was right on.