Watch as Michael Sam Gets Drafted, Kisses His Partner on ESPN

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 10 2014 8:03 PM

Watch as Michael Sam Gets Drafted, Kisses His Partner on ESPN

It took until the final moments of the final day of the 2014 draft, but Michael Sam has become the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Moments after he got the call from the St. Louis Rams, who took Sam with the draft’s 249th overall pick, the Missouri star also became the first NFL draftee to celebrate by kissing his same-sex partner on national television. Later, the network showed Sam and his partner—who Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler identifies by his first name, Vito—shoving a celebratory slice of cake in each other’s faces and kissing again.* You can watch the initial kiss in the video below.

Josh Levin Josh Levin

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

In the hour since ESPN aired this amazing, emotional footage, it has not shown the kisses again. Instead, the Worldwide Leader has opted to replay a shorter clip of Sam crying and embracing his partner. ESPN.com's online video, billed on the site's front page as "Sam gets call from Rams," has also been bowdlerized, cutting out both of the kisses.

Advertisement

For most of the day, it didn’t seem like Sam would have any reason to rejoice. The SEC’s defensive player of the year went undrafted through the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds. As the draft neared its conclusion, ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, and Bill Polian argued that the NFL's lack of interest in Sam had nothing to do with his sexual orientation. They explained, using an impressive 1000 clichés per minute, that Sam was a “tweener” who didn’t have a natural position in the NFL, and that he would have a good chance to make a roster as an undrafted free agent because of his great attitude and strong "motor."

The Rams, though, finally called Sam with the draft’s eighth-to-last selection. He will now compete for a spot on one of the league’s strongest defensive lines, one featuring star defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, the latter of whom has already tweeted his support for Sam. Sam will be mentored in St. Louis by Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended in 2012 (and reinstated a year later) due to his role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. Among the lessons that Williams will likely impart to his rookie defender: “Kill the head, the body will die.”

In a post-draft interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher noted that it was appropriate that the Rams had drafted Sam. The Rams franchise, then in Los Angeles, made history by signing Kenny Washington in 1946, making him the first black player to ink a contract with an NFL team in the league’s modern era.

*Correction, May 10, 2014: This post originally misspelled Cyd Zeigler's last name.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.