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!!!
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.