Michael Sam's Missouri teammates generally embraced him when he revealed that he was gay last August. The majority of the NFL's reaction was positive, too, after Sam told the public Sunday. But Sam's father, Michael Sam, Sr., didn't have a similar reaction when he found out. His coping involved drinks at Applebee's.
Sam's father was informed last week, before the public, but much later than his son's college football teammates. He received the news through a text.
From the New York Times:
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."
On the other hand, Sam's aunt, Geraldine Sam, has been nothing but supportive of her nephew after discovering his secret, so not every family member has reacted like his father. And while it seems rough to us for Sam to not have his father's unequivocal support, the NFL prospect doesn't seem that fazed. "I'm closer to my friends than I am to my family," he said.