Joe Drape, Steve Eder, and Billu Wirz have written a fascinating column for the New York Times where the trio documented Michael Sam’s tough upbringing. The column touches on Sam’s reputation of frequenting the local gay bar and his families notorious reputation of being criminals.
But the most fascination part of the column revolves around Sam’s relationship with his parents: Michael Sam Sr. and JoAnn Sam, who have been separated for most of Sam’s life.
His mother, JoAnn is a devout Jehovah’s Witness and does not believe in celebrating holidays or participating in organized sports. Those beliefs caused “confrontations” between Sam and his mother. Those confrontations have strained their relationships to the point that when Sam comes home to visit, he routinely stays with friends.
As for Sam’s father Michael Sr., he finds himself struggling with the notion that his son is a gay man.
Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.
Dad, I’m gay, he wrote.
The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.
“I’m old-school,” he added. “I’m a man and a woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.
On Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news.
Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the N.F.L. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.”
But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.”
After reading this, it should be clear that Michael Sam won’t have any problem at all dealing with any backlash he may be receiving after his announcement over the weekend.