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Bernie Miklasz: ‘Lot Of Older People Have Hard Time Coming To Grips With It’

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Michael Sam (Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Michael Sam (Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images)

In a move stunning to some and not at all surprising to others, the St. Louis Rams cut Michael Sam this past weekend, prompting countless responses from our cultured and not-so-cultured society.

“I just get so depressed (that) it’s not worth (reading the comments),” St. Louis Post-Dispatch Rams writer Bernie Miklasz said on The John Feinstein Show on CBS Sports Radio, referring to his columns. “I don’t want to ruin my day by just feeling bad about mankind.”

John Feinstein typically takes the same approach, but reaction to this story was too difficult to ignore. Based on comments he came across in various forums, we’ve still got a long way to go as a society in terms of acceptance and inclusivity.

“Definitely,” Miklasz said. “As powerful as (Sam) was in terms of coming out, having the courage to do it (and) also proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can fit into a pro locker room and be accepted and it was no big deal to anybody – it was a non-story here. That’s the best thing you can say about it. It was not a story locally.”

“But in terms of the overall culture, my goodness. If you look at the polls, people of a certain age, there’s a dividing line. Younger people look at all this and just shrug and say, ‘What is the big deal? Why are we even talking about this? Let’s move on. This is the world. Everybody get along. Everybody’s different. Let’s just accept it. What’s the fuss?’”

But not everyone feels that way.

“I don’t want to generalize, but (a lot of) older people . . . still have a hard time coming to grips with it,” Miklasz said. “One Michael Sam is not going to change that. I don’t know that 100 Michael Sams becoming a pro athlete in a team sport is going to change that. This stuff is deeply imbedded into people and it’s going to take a long time for it to change dramatically.”

But eventually, it will. History has taught us that. Heck, 1947 taught us that.

“Here’s what rankles me about this,” Miklasz said. “I think there’s a lot of speaking in code still, and it bothers me. Believe it or not, I actually have more respect in a weird way for people who just would come out and say, ‘I don’t like him. I don’t like this.’ At least they’re honest. I mean, it’s sad, but in a strange way, I respect that more than people who speak in code.”

You know, the people who say, “This isn’t a story. How come no other seventh-round picks get this much attention? Nobody cares about this. Teams aren’t going to sign him because he’s a distraction.”

“All that is BS,” Miklasz said. “I would just respect people more if they (had) the guts to come out and say, ‘This makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like this.’ Just be honest. There’s not a rule that says you have to like Michael Sam, but quit speaking in code to cover your own discomfort with this, if not straight-up bigotry. That’s my beef.”

According to reports, St. Louis will not sign Sam to its practice squad. Given the Rams’ depth at defensive line, Miklasz is not surprised by this.

“I think there’s a lot of gray here,” he said. “As much as I’m on (Sam’s) side, I’m reluctant to just automatically assume the worst here. Because I have to tell you: Look, I saw Michael Sam a lot, and he needs a lot of work. He really does. He’s sort of a one-dimensional guy, and I’m being really truthful about this as far as his football skill. He’s got an outside pass-rush move, and he was able to beat some second- and third-string tackles with that who weren’t used to it and weren’t very good. But a starting-caliber offensive tackle will have no problem smothering him on a pass rush (because his repertoire is limited).

“He’s a huge effort and motor guy,” Miklasz continued. “He’s going to make plays because he’s relentless and won’t stop running to the ball. But in terms of his overall development, he’s kind of a one-trick pony.”

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