Henderson blasts coverage of Sam kiss, then says it was an experiment
MAY 12, 2014 11:19a ET
The St. Louis Rams made history on Saturday, taking former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft, making Sam the first openly gay player to ever be selected.
And over the last couple days, the footage of Sam learning of his selection and celebrating with his family and boyfriend has gone viral, with the clip of a teary-eyed Sam and his boyfriend sharing a hug and a kiss becoming a regular in ESPN's "SportsCenter" rotation.
For most, the scene has resonated as a powerful symbol of a changing landscape in the macho world of professional athletics, but for some less progressive minds in the sports world, the smooch has been portrayed as distasteful, and those offended by the show of affection haven't been shy about taking their thoughts to Twitter.
It started on Sunday with Miami Dolphins cornerback Don Jones, who was fined an undisclosed amount and excused from team activities after sending a tweet that described the video of Sam and his boyfriend as "horrible."
The post would have been a poor choice for any NFL player to send out, but was particularly noteworthy coming from a Dolphins player, considering the turmoil the team went through this past season amid the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying scandal.
Unfortunately, the negative reaction didn't stop there, and on Monday, former Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson -- no stranger to controversy, himself -- posted a series of tweets to the 67,000 followers of his Twitter account in response to Sam's celebration:
Im sorry, but I DO NOT AGREE WHATSOEVER that should be shown to where innocent eyes can see!!!— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
Less than an hour later, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork took to Twitter, himself, to rebuke Henderson's comments:
I'm extremely disappointed & we do not condone the statements made by our former bball player. We believe in respect & dignity for all......— Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) May 12, 2014
We use significant resources to educate our student-athletes about respect & dignity for all people & unfortunately not everyone gets it....— Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) May 12, 2014
Around the same time Bjork was speaking out in opposition of Henderson's stance, Henderson returned to Twitter with an interesting explanation for his earlier posts:
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR INPUT AND RESPONSES!!! MY NEXT TWEET IS REALLY GONNA THROW EVERYONE A CURVEBALL— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
One of my best friends, WHO IS GAY, is about to graduate in psychology, asked me to say these things so he can have responses ... TBC— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
The point of his study was to see how people react when others say things or act a certain way against another group of people ... TBC— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
He chose gays because of how he relates to it and has to live it EVERYDAY of his life ... He asked me because he knew I would get incredible— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
Feedback, and OMG how crazy you people are lol ... It is absolutely amazing to see what people have said, whether agreeing or disagreeing— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
As far as what I said, Totally was 100% for the project ... as far as my ACTUAL views - its irrelevant because its gonna happen regardless!— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
Sorry for messing with everyone like that!!! Everyone really helped my boy AND FOR THAT WE ARE EXTREMELY APPRECIATIVE!!!— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
ITS CALLED PSYCHOLOGY .... and everyone just got taken to school— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
THANK YOU MICHAEL SAM FOR STANDING UP FOR YOU AND MAKING THIS WHOLE PROJECT POSSIBLE!!! TRYING TO BRIDGE THE GAP ONE DAY AT A TIME!!— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
We'll probably never know whether Henderson's explanation is legitimate, or if it's an excuse hastily crafted in an effort to get himself out of hot water, especially with the NBA Draft coming up next month.
But even if Henderson's alibi does hold up, one can't help but wonder why he wouldn't choose his social experiments a little more carefully -- especially after a group of Ole Miss football players sparked controversy of their own when they reportedly heckled actors and used homophobic slurs during a performance of the Matthew Shepard-themed play "The Laramie Project" at the school last fall.