The Michael Sam documentary series for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has been postponed just two days after getting the green light. Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be picked up by an NFL team, has given permission to OWN to follow and document the athletes historical rise into America’s biggest professional sports league. OWN released a statement Wednesday confirming that but confusion began after Sam was picked up in the seventh round by the Rams who had no idea that this series was even in the works.
Erik Logan, president of OWN, said in a statement that the decision would “Allow Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dreams of making the team.” Logan went on to say that OWN is all about empowering people and elevating them to “achieve their best.” Logan said, “It’s clear that we, along with the world, recognize the opportunity that Michael has in this moment.” The OWN president added that the network is still going to support Sam and the journey the athlete will take on, in hopes to make the team.
Cameron Weiss, Sam’s agent met with the Rams Friday and included this comment in the statement, “After today’s meeting with the Rams, we felt it is best to postpone the project.” The decision was to make sure that Sam would be able to give proper focus on football and also not to distract Sam’s teammates. Sam has not yet signed an agreement with OWN to use footage from the league or any of the leagues trademarks.
According to the Rams, the team had no idea that any of this was in the works or even being discussed. Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman said, “We learned of this in the days after the draft.” This obviously caused concern for the Rams and talks went immediately underway. Just two days after announcing OWN was going to do a documentary series on Michael Sam, it has now been postponed and for very good reason.
Though The Untitled Michael Sam Project has been postponed, it is not going to be trashed. “Everybody remains committed to this project,” Weiss said, “and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.” The series was to document Sam’s getting drafted by the Rams and his journey to make it on the team.
The untitled project is still to be produced by director Amy Rice and Craig Piligian who were behind Lindsay, a documentary series on Lindsay Lohan and her struggles after rehab and making a comeback. During interviews with ESPN and The New York Times in February, Sam came out of the proverbial closet. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it.” Sam told reporters for The New York Times that the University of Missouri alumni just wants to own his truth.
Sam was the 249th pick by the Rams on May 10 at the NFL draft. After being selected, ESPN captured Sam kissing his boyfriend in the excitement.
OWN is looking good in the eyes of sports fans everywhere for postponing the Michael Sam documentary series knowing that such a project would only distract Sam and the team when the focus should be on football. Either way, when the documentary finally does come out, it is sure to be must-see TV.
By Derik L. Bradshaw