OWN announces documentary series on gay NFL draftee Michael Sam

Michael Sam interview

Missouri defensive end, and the 2014 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam made headlines back in February when he announced he was gay in an interview with Chris Connelly on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. The announcement caused many, including anonymous NFL executives who spoke with Sports Illustrated, to speculate that Sam would fall in the NFL draft.

It seems those anonymous executives were correct because Sam wasn’t drafted until the seventh round when he was chosen by the St. Louis Rams with the 249th overall pick. (That means that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and league leader in sacks was taken after a punter, two kickers and a guy with a torn ACL — making Sam the first SEC Defenseive POY to not be taken in the first round in almost a decade, to say nothing about the SEVENTH ROUND!) To remain positive, the selection cemented Sam’s place in history as he became the first openly gay player to ever be drafted by the NFL.

Once his draft selection was announced live, Michael Sam once again made headlines (and elicited innumerable hateful reactions) when he celebrated by kissing his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano. But, the reactions weren’t all negative as millions rallied around Sam’s selection, including so many people buying his Rams jersey that it became the second highest selling rookie jersey in the franchises history! (So far.)

Here’s a clip of the announcement and kiss:

Undoubtedly Michael Sam is embarking on a ground-breaking journey — a journey where no openly gay man has gone before. And America will be able to join him as OWN announced earlier today it will be airing a documentary series following Michael Sam “as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL.”

Here is the full press release from OWN with a brief video clip from The New York Times added in:


Los Angeles – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today a new multi-part documentary series following the life of Michael Sam, who made history when he became the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL by the St. Louis Rams. OWN partners with Emmy-winning producer Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Amy Rice (“Lindsay,” “By The People: The Election of Barack Obama”) to produce “The Untitled Michael Sam Project” (working title) which spotlights the former University of Missouri football player and his historic journey as he prepares to enter the biggest professional sports league in America.

This special documentary series will feature a deeply personal, up-close look at the remarkable man at the center of this groundbreaking moment in professional sports, as the All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year enters the competitive world of professional football. Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL.

“We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I am proud of the focus on authentic storytelling in our new documentary series format. The next real-life story we follow in ‘The Untitled Michael Sam Project’ promises to spark valuable, important discussion on life in America today. Acceptance and illumination start here.”

“Like every player out there working to make a team right now, my focus is on playing football to the very best of my ability,” said Sam. “I am determined. And if seeing my story helps somebody else accept who they are and to go for their dreams too, that’s great. I am thankful to Oprah for her support and excited to work together.”

“The Untitled Michael Sam Project” is produced with OWN by Pilgrim Studios and is executive produced by Craig Piligian, Nicholas Caprio and Johnny Gould. Amy Rice, Ralph Wikke and Mitch Rosa are co-executive producers. Cameron Weiss, Joe Barkett and Howard Bragman are producers.

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