Sam’s Father: The New York Times Misquoted Me
The Michael Sam saga continues.
Earlier this week the New York Times published a background piece on the athlete, who is poised to become the first openly gay football player in the National Football League, that detailed his upbringing and how he told his father he is gay, plus his father’s reactions.
Sam texted his father, Michael Sam Sr., while he was celebrating his birthday at a Denny’s outside Dallas - just a few days before he came out to the rest of the world.
"Dad, I’m gay," the athlete wrote. Sam Sr. said the party stopped after reading his son’s message.
"I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks," Sam Sr. told the NYT. "I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment."
He added that he is "old school" and, a "man-and-woman type of guy," saying that he even took his older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.
A number of publications pointed out Sam’s father’s comments and his apparent mixed emotions. Sam Sr. also told Fox News Sports that he was "proud" of his son.
But he is now telling the Texas’ Galveston Daily News that the NYT "terribly misquoted" him.
"I did not say anything about my grandkids," Sam Sr. said. He added that some of his thoughts were taken out of context, like when he said Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end, "is turning over in his grave" at the idea of an openly gay football player in the NFL.
"We generally are not inclined to discuss the details of our reporting, but I can assure you that we quoted Mr. Sam accurately and fairly," NYT sports editor Jason Stallman wrote in an email to the Galveston Daily News, according to the New York Daily News. "I’ve gone over it with our reporters, and everything was rock solid, beyond any doubt."
Sam Sr., 55, told the newspaper that he supports his son.
"My son did the right thing, and I am not against him at all. He has made a great statement in coming out, and that he should be able to play in the NFL. I love him unconditionally," he said. "Once he gets on the field and hits (someone) once, they won’t think he’s gay."
NBC News also interviewed Sam Sr., a disabled truck driver, Monday afternoon. He said he was "shocked" to learn of his son’s sexuality but said the athlete’s coming out was "a courageous decision."
"I can imagine how it was to just tell me. And especially to tell the world," he said. "I’m proud of him. You know, he’s still my son and he’s a good football player still."
He added a somewhat left-handed compliment by saying: "He will rock you. If he hits you...you can feel it. You won’t feel that he’s gay. You feel the football player hittin’ you. That’s for sure."