Sam NFL’s 1st Openly Gay Player

first_imgNEW YORK — Michael Sam waited and waited. Hours passed, rounds came and went, and eventually, there were only eight more picks left on the third and final day of the NFL draft.For just a moment, it looked as if his chance of being picked by a pro team and becoming the league’s first openly gay player might take a detour. Or at least be delayed.The call finally came in from the St. Louis Rams, the team right down the road from where Sam played his college ball at the University of Missouri.Sam was selected in the seventh and final round and admitted it was a frustrating wait. He said teams that passed on him chickened out and he should have been drafted sooner.“From last season alone, I should’ve been in the first three rounds. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-American,” Sam said. He stopped short of directly saying his stock dropped in the draft because he came out.“You know what, who knows? Who knows? Only the people who sit in the war room know,” he said. “They saw Michael Sam, day after day they scratched it off the board. That was their loss. But St. Louis kept me on that board. And you know what I feel like I’m a (Jadeveon) Clowney, a first draft pick. I’m proud of where I am now.”Sam came out as gay in media interviews earlier this year. His team and coaches knew his secret and kept it for his final college season. He went on to have the best year of his career: He was the co-defensive player of the year in the nation’s best college football conference and had 11.5 sacks.The pick came after several rounds of suspense. The first round of the day, No. 4 overall, came and went, no Sam. Then the fifth and sixth, and finally, the day was down to just a handful of picks.When Mike Kensil, the NFL’s Vice President of game operations, walked to the podium at Radio City Music Hall in the draft’s final minutes to announce the Rams’ second-to-last pick, the crowd got a sense something was up. Very few of the last day picks were announced at the podium. Twitter lit up with suggestions the Rams were about to make news.When Kensil said: “The St. Louis Rams select … Michael Sam…” the fans gave a hearty cheer, chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “Michael Sam!”Sam was in San Diego watching with friends and family at the home of his agent, Joe Barkett of Empire Athletes. ESPN and the NFL Network had cameras there and showed Sam’s reaction.Sam was on the phone bending over, with his boyfriend hugging him and rubbing his left bicep. When Sam got off the phone, the tears started. He gave his boyfriend a big kiss and a long hug as he cried and his eyes reddened. After, they shared cake — and another kiss.“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every once of this to achieve greatness!!” Sam tweeted with a frenzied typo moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a mid-to-late round pick, far from a sure thing to be drafted. He played defensive end in college, but he’s short for that position in the NFL and slower than most outside linebackers, the position he’ll need to transition to at the professional level.He was taken with the 249th overall pick out of 256. Players from Marist, Maine and McGill University in Canada were selected before Sam.“In the world of diversity we live in now, I’m honored to be a part of this,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during an interview on ESPN.The NFL had no comment on Sam being drafted.The impact of Sam’s selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.“Michael Sam wouldn’t have been drafted five years ago,” said former Viking punter Chris Kluwe, who has accused Minnesota of cutting him in part because of his vocal support for gay rights.In the last year, NBA veteran Jason Collins has come out publicly as gay, and is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets. Collins said before the Nets’ playoff game against the Heat that he was watching the draft and texted Sam after he was picked.“It’s a great day for Michael and his family and for the NFL,” Collins said.Publicly, most people in and related to the NFL have been supportive of Sam. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said Sam would be welcome in the league and judged solely on his ability to play. A few wondered whether teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of all the media attention that would come with it.Fair or not, the NFL — coming off a season in which a bullying scandal involving players on the Miami Dolphins was one of the biggest stories in sports — was looking at a possible public relations hit if Sam was not drafted. He would likely have been signed as a free agent and given a chance to make a team in training camp, but to many it would have looked as if he was being rejected.Now that he’s there, it could be seen as an opportunity for the NFL to show that crass locker room culture is not as prevalent as it might have looked to those who followed the embarrassing Dolphins scandal. But all the reaction to Sam’s news wasn’t positive from the league.Miami safety Don Jones posted a one-word tweet, “Horrible” shortly after Sam was drafted. It was later taken down. The team’s General Manager said he was aware, and was disappointed.Wade Davis, a gay former NFL player who is now the executive director of the gay rights advocacy group You Can Play, said that Sam only needs to do his job to have an impact beyond the field.“Michael Sam doesn’t have to be a vocal advocate (for gay rights),” Davis said. “His visibility is his advocacy.”(RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

You are showing utter disregard for livelihood of players: TNCA to CoA

first_imgNew Delhi, Jul 6 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) today came up with a strong riposte to the Committee of Administrators’ (CoA) threat of de-recognising the Tamil Nadu Premier League and slammed the Vinod Rai-led panel for “showing utter disregard for livelihood of players”. The CoA yesterday issued an advisory in which it warned TNCA from allowing players from other states to take part in the TNPL starting July 11, stating that it violates article 28 (b) of the existing constitution. The TNCA, after its meeting today, sent a strongly-worded letter written by their joint secretary RI Palani. “We had informed the acting president and the acting secretary of the BCCI about TNPL. Why is the CoA unnecessarily interfering, only they know. TNPL is being organised for three years now,” a TNCA official told PTI on conditions of anonymity. The rules for the Inter-State T20 leagues were passed on July 3 and TNCA’s draft for outstation players was scheduled on July 4. Many believe that if the CoA had right intentions, it would have actually given enough time to TNCA to withdraw the draft process. Instead, the committee chose to wait till the TNCA completed its draft process and then fired a salvo, threatening to disband the tournament. However, it is not known whether the CoA had kept Star Sports, who are the official broadcasters for the event in the loop. Star also holds the rights for India’s international games at home. The letter sent by Palani makes it clear that the TNCA is in no mood to bow down to the CoA’s diktat.advertisement Palani, in fact, made a valid point about how the likes of Unmukt Chand, Sheldon Jackson would be able to earn a livelihood. These are not sought-after players in the Indian Premier League. “The advisory exhibit a complete and utter disregard of the interests of players who would be deprived of an opportunity to earn a living and would perhaps lose a valuable opportunity to showcase their talents to the world, Palani wrote in his letter. The TNCA joint secretary also said that never has there been a precedence of seeking permission for a state level tournament. Having an outstation player to take part in various club leagues with the go-ahead from his home state, too, has never been an issue. “The regulations of the BCCI provide that members of BCCI are not required to seek approval for conducting tournaments within its territorial jurisdiction unless the tournament involves players from outside such jurisdiction.” “We have indicated several instances, in our earlier letters, of players representing one member for BCCI Tournaments and the same players participating in tournaments organized by other members provided that the members inter se had no objection. BCCI’s approval was never required or sought in any of those instances.” Desperate to not get caught in the crossfire between the CoA and TNCA, it will be interesting to see what the respective players and their state associations do in the coming days. PTI KHS KHS AHAHlast_img read more

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law

first_imgTORONTO – The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was charged last year was unconstitutional because a valid program making medicinal pot readily available did not exist at the time, an Ontario court heard on Thursday.As a result, charges of possession for the purposes of trafficking and having proceeds of crime laid against Marek (Mark) Stupak should be thrown out, his lawyer Alan Young said.Stupak, 44, operated two “medical marijuana compassion clubs” known as the Social Collective in Toronto. Police charged him in May 2016 under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act as part of a series of city-wide raids in an operation known as “Project Claudia.”Young cited a 2000 ruling from Ontario’s top court that Parliament could not criminalize marijuana use without a program to make medicinal marijuana available to ill patients who needed it.Other courts, he said, regularly struck down restrictions on reasonable access to the drug. However, Ottawa failed to ensure that access, and dispensaries such as Stupak’s sprang up to fill the gap, Young said.“Project Claudia” made a “concerted effort” to close down all the dispensaries in Toronto but police messed up because they had no law to back their enforcement action at the time of the raids, Young said.In October 2013, Ottawa began shutting down an existing but criticized program under which patients could grow their own pot or have someone grow it for them for free. The program was replaced in April 2014 with one in which growers were licensed to grow and supply medical marijuana to patients.However, the new scheme also ran afoul of the courts, Young said. As a result, no valid medical program was in effect between October 2013 and August of 2016, when the government brought in new rules for medical marijuana, court heard.“The government dropped the ball and there was a gap,” Young told Superior Court Justice Heather McArthur. “There was a two-year period where patients were left in the dark and in the cold.”The gap, he said, left patients and their suppliers exposed to criminal sanction. Additionally, if a patient has a right to use and to access the drug, the government must make clear that those who distribute to them are exempt as well, Young said.“When ‘Project Claudia’ was initiated, medical patients were in a limbo period in which it was unclear how they were going to access (medical marijuana),” Young said.For his part, Crown lawyer David Morlog argued Stupak was looking for an “extremely broad” remedy given that the rules in place at the time were in fact constitutional.“The applicant is seeking retroactive absolution for drug trafficking,” Morlog said.Stupak, Morlog said, is relying on a misinterpretation of a key Federal Court decision in February 2016. In that ruling, a judge found the medical marijuana system unconstitutional, but gave the government six months to fix the issue.In his submissions, Young argued that evidence as to what exactly Stupak was doing with his dispensaries is not necessary unless the law is upheld. However, McArthur wondered whether she should know more.“I strongly suggest it’s not necessary,” Young replied, but McArthur said she would think about whether such evidence would be helpful to her ruling on the validity of the law.Five other individuals alleged to be owners of medical marijuana dispensaries have joined the challenge but are awaiting its outcome. Young said thousands of other cases could be affected as well.McArthur put the matter over until Nov. 6, when the parties will discuss whether she needs to hear evidence about Stupak’s dealings.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the wrong spelling of Crown lawyer David Morloglast_img read more