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Daily Show delves into NFL “distractions”

Stewart AP

Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe believes that, when it comes to linebacker Michael Sam, “distraction” is code for intolerance.  Jon Stewart of The Daily Show sees the use of the term in this specific context as irony.

No pro team wants the type of controversy having a gay player is going to cause,” Stewart said on Monday night’s episode, via Deadspin.  “If he had just been convicted of DUI vehicular manslaughter or obstruction of justice in connection with a murder or accused of sexual assault or screamed the N-word at a concert or killed a bunch of dogs and buried them in his f–king yard, you know, NFL material.”

With each example, a photo of a specific player was displayed, from Donte’ Stallworth (DUI manslaughter) to Ray Lewis (obstruction of justice in a murder case) to Ben Roethlisberger (accused of sexual assault) to Riley Cooper (screamed the N-word at a concert) to Mike Vick (dogs).  The point is a strong one; teams have tolerated all sorts of distractions by giving “second chances” to players who have committed or been accused of committing inappropriate or criminal acts.  So why should being openly gay undermine Michael Sam’s first chance?

Each of the men listed above created distractions, and yet they all received opportunities to keep playing.  The short-term distraction created by the arrival of Michael Sam could be more significant because, unlike players committing criminal acts, an openly-gay player is unprecedented for the NFL.  But the idea that it’s less problematic to welcome a man who engaged in a six-year lifestyle of illegal gambling and dogfighting to a team than it is to embrace a man who is merely being candid with the world about his identity is troubling — and hopefully temporary.

For star players like Lewis, Roethlisberger, and Vick, it’s easy to look the other way, because they are good players.  Stallworth and Cooper were given refuge despite being replaceable.  And some men with disturbing backgrounds continue to churn at the bottom of NFL rosters.

Defensive back Perrish Cox allegedly raped a woman after she had passed out in his apartment, avoiding conviction despite telling police he didn’t have sex with the woman and then matching the DNA of the fetus who was growing in her womb.  Shunned for a period of time until the headlines faded, Cox recently has been bouncing between the 49ers and the Seahawks.

NFL teams deal with all sorts of issues and problems and challenges and distractions, all in the hopes of finding the best players to help win games.  Sure, having Sam on the team will result in extra media coverage, for a while.  But media coverage is part of life in the NFL.  Isn’t it better to have extra media coverage for doing something progressive and tolerant than for finding a way to excuse the bad behavior of a good player?

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27 Responses to “Daily Show delves into NFL “distractions””
  1. crabcakesfootball says: Feb 11, 2014 7:20 PM

    NFL executives are paranoid, spineless, and incompetent.

    Sam will probably be drafted by the Seahawks or Patriots and have no issues or problems.

    These GMs overthink things and dont focus on whether he can play.

  2. doe22us says: Feb 11, 2014 7:25 PM

    He has a point, shoot that fat loaf in Dallas killed his teammate and Jerry Jones will welcome him with open arms. Personally, what a man/woman does is between them i live my life and i dont try to judge or mandate how someone lives theirs.

  3. meatcarroll says: Feb 11, 2014 7:28 PM

    Yeah but those “distractions” aren’t by players who will be actively checking out their nude teammates in the locker room and making them uncomfortable in their own workplace of a high stress job.

  4. golfsox78 says: Feb 11, 2014 7:30 PM

    Love it. It’s completely accurate. It would sicken me to think players think all of the above are macho things to be accused of so it’s ok in the locker room. Judge a man by his character, his attitude and his work ethic and how he treats others.

  5. therealraider says: Feb 11, 2014 7:35 PM

    In each of those cases the media did not relentlessly hound the team and bombard them with topic specific questions day after day after day after day after day.

  6. thegreatgabbert says: Feb 11, 2014 7:53 PM

    Not only is Sam a “distraction”, he is a “mobile and athletic” distraction. Better try to at least foul off the next pitch, kid.

  7. intelligent cement says: Feb 11, 2014 7:56 PM

    Stewart nailed it. In addition to that, the clip of Vilma afraid of ‘someone’ checking him out while getting dressed exposed him for the tool he is.

  8. kegowhisky says: Feb 11, 2014 8:06 PM

    One thing is for certain. The hype thrown on this issue by the media will far exceed any negativity coming from team mates. The real story should be how this guy performs for his team, and we’d be a lot better off if everyone would back off until then.

  9. stealthjunk says: Feb 11, 2014 8:11 PM

    Stewart’s analogy is a weak one. Michael Sam is 100% going to get a chance to play in the NFL just like all these other players mentioned. The only thing his sexual preference affects is whether and where he will be drafted. For instance, if a GM believes his presence will be a distraction, they may not be willing to take him in the second round, but they likely would be l be willing to take him in the fifth or sixth round. Or, all else equal, they might pick someone of equal abilities, without the distraction, ahead of Sam when choosing between the two.

    By comparison, for the players Stewart mentioned, the teams in practically all those applicable cases were able to pay much less in salary and contract years for the player due to the player being a “distraction” or risk (e.g., Vick was effectively signed to only a $1.6m/one-year deal — a huge discount from what he was getting paid prior to the arrest and relative to his abilities).

    In other cases NOT mentioned by Stewart (e.g., Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson), teams decided the distraction was not worth any amount of money and refused to sign them.

    It’s all just a simple cost-benefit analysis — teams are willing to take on the distraction if they’re getting a good value (i.e., drafting a player in the lower rounds or signing a player to a short-term, low-money deal). But all else equal, a player that is a distraction (whatever that may be) will get drafted in a lower round or paid less than a player that is not a distraction.

  10. crabcakesfootball says: Feb 11, 2014 8:18 PM

    How will this be a distraction after game 1?

    This time last year we thought Manti would be the story of the year.

    We didnt hear a peep from him.

    I doubt after the first game that there will be headlines that say “First Gay player to play 2 games in a row.”

  11. nfl4days says: Feb 11, 2014 8:22 PM

    Vilma needs to be gone. He hasnt contributed anything in two years and “SAINTS linebacker” doesn’t need to be plastered all over every news article in america. Not now.

  12. huskerguy says: Feb 11, 2014 8:28 PM

    I have a serious question. I’m not asking this to be a jerk or anything… Just a discussion we had today.

    Men and women are separated due to sexual desires, privacy, etc… Will this have to be addressed in locker rooms for openly gay men and women? I mean, if it is truly “same love” then shouldn’t the same discretions be taken?

    Like I said, this was a serious discussions and questions within a group of people today. No judging going on.

  13. 1rockyracoon says: Feb 11, 2014 8:29 PM

    1) Sharing a locker room with a gay teammate: most of the players have already shared a locker room with a gay player–they just didn’t know the guy was gay.

    2) It’s 2014– you don’t want to be the last person to progress.

  14. posmoo says: Feb 11, 2014 8:32 PM

    He won’t have a problem – if he’s good. Why would you assume he would have a problem otherwise? All those players John Stewart mentioned were good, a couple were all-world when they got into trouble, one was maybe the best middle linebacker ever.

    The powers that be in the NFL accept controversy directly proportional to the contribution on the football field, and not one one ounce more.

    Life is balanced like that in every realm of human relationships. Alec Baldwin gets canned because his ratings suck; the duckdynasty folks can never be fired because they are the most profitable show on television. Moral failings are accepted in politics in direct proportion to the politicians skill. In human relationships people give more slack to those they are required to because of financial gain or personal loyalty. My girlfriend excepts my personal failings and behavior from me that she wouldn’t from a mere acquaintance because I offer a lot of benefits too.

    The entire panoply of business and personal relationships are based on this balancing test.

    Listen, Mike Vick came very close to never playing in the nfl for killing a few dogs, when people that kill humans are frequently let back in without a second thought. This is because killing dogs causes more controversy than running down a man in a car does. Only one coach in the entire nfl was willing to give mike vick a second shot, when we was a face of the league, the highest paid player, a pro-bowler, and a #1 overall pick just a few years before.

    So let’s not be naive –
    the only question regarding Sam for NFL organizations at this point is is whether his talent will be worth a daily Tebow level circus and constant questioning of the organization that drafts him.

    Tebow was not worth that scrutiny, others were. Will Sam be long term? We’ll see.

    So ironically in a very real way, the media in general and websites like yours that will be following his moves 24-7 are the biggest thing standing in the way of his career aspirations at this point.

  15. catquick says: Feb 11, 2014 8:33 PM

    Stwart overlooked the fact all those guys were already NFL players under contract at the time(Hernandez, a 1st round talent, was taken in the 4th, and then only because Belichek took a flyer on him). Also, in the cases of Lewis and Vick, both players publicly repented and paid large amounts of time and money to repay the league. Will Sam do that? Of course not.

  16. atlfan31833 says: Feb 11, 2014 8:34 PM

    Can I please remind everyone that the draft hasn’t happened yet! This young man will get drafted. Can we please move along from this?

  17. revren10 says: Feb 11, 2014 8:36 PM

    Riley cooper should join patriots

  18. cuda1234 says: Feb 11, 2014 8:47 PM

    Why is Roethlisberger even in this conversation? Has he ever been arrested, tried or convicted of anything? Seriously.

  19. FinFan68 says: Feb 11, 2014 8:57 PM

    I still don’t understand why he (and others) feel the need to hold a press conference and announce their sexual preference. That is a PR move or an ego boosting attention grab. LBGT want equal treatment yet the first thing they do is set themselves apart by making a big deal out of their main difference to the rest of their peers.

  20. marima07 says: Feb 11, 2014 9:00 PM

    Stewart’s examples involve proven veteran players, not prospects about to be drafted. An important distinction.

  21. brooklyn40niner says: Feb 12, 2014 4:14 AM

    Lol @ Tim Tebow! It’s so true. Way more truthful than Roethlisberger’s past situation.

  22. boomer1451 says: Feb 12, 2014 9:06 AM

    Everyone who is defending Vick, Lewis and all these guys who took a career hit because of their “distractions” are missing the point of the comparison. Sure it’s definitely examined if their distraction is worth their talent but what’s grossly unfair is these guys created their negative distractions. They drove drunk & high, lied about murder, raped a chick in a bathroom and literally electrocuted dogs. M. Sam has done nothing wrong, he doesn’t deserve to be discredited as a “distraction”… To compare to Tim Tebow is also ridiculous because his distraction was hyped by religion. 3 teams still tried to work with the distraction despite his lack of ability (which it inevitably comes down to). All tho Tebow, like Sam did not bring his distraction upon himself, it’s the exact opposite affect because of those same religious people.

  23. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 12, 2014 9:08 AM

    Steeper fans upset that Sir Rapesalot got thrown onto the conversation is priceless.

  24. paulland81 says: Feb 12, 2014 10:57 AM

    I think the biggest distraction is the scrutiny any team will get if they have audacity to cut him if he doesn’t perform well. Chris Kluwe would have a field day as would LBGT lawyers demanding the team show just cause. Any GM looking that far down the road will probably pass.

  25. theageofquarrel says: Feb 12, 2014 11:07 AM

    cuda1234 says:
    Feb 11, 2014 8:47 PM
    Why is Roethlisberger even in this conversation? Has he ever been arrested, tried or convicted of anything? Seriously.

    Because like everything on here he is guilty in the court of the internet.
    But I am sure this won’t get posted because PFT likes to censor people.
    Big Brother is watching

  26. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Feb 12, 2014 2:17 PM

    Stewart is great at pointing out hypocrisy in politics. But in the NFL there will be no issue with Sam if he is a good player that helps his team win.

    Simply put, no hypocrisy here. The NFL turns their head on anything when it is a player that promotes their league. Same will be true with Sam.

  27. xinellum says: Feb 14, 2014 9:06 AM

    NFL and team executives and management don’t care if you murdered your mother, in fact, the way NFL players frame the locker room, they would joke about it and kid about how he did it. That’s because if they are violent psychopaths and play good football, they just don’t care. Punishments for off field behavior seem to be as easily bought off as Von Millers urine tester. Williams who was basically found guilty of paying players to seriously injure other players was hired as defensive coordinator by the Rams with Goodell’s consent but when it happened every analyst said he would never coach in the NFL again. That was before the Rams defense sucked. The NFL is a bunch of money hungry, owners and players who would sell their soul and the soul of their grandmothers to chase that almighty buck. But let a player say he is gay, well that doesn’t denote a violent, drug ridden or alcoholic background that the NFL requires for it’s manly players. If you drink and drive, that’s manly (limited punishment), if you beat your wife or girlfriend that’s manly (limited punishment), you commit a violent crime or try to cover one up that’s manly (limited punishment), but if your gay, that’s too effeminate, you can’t play in the NFL.

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