The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has delayed production on an upcoming docu-series, starring NFL star Michael Sam, after reportedly receiving a torrent of criticism from football fans and league officials.
Sam became the first openly gay athlete drafted into the NFL when he was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of last week’s annual draft. Celeb glossies wasted no time jumping on the scoop — especially after ESPN cameras caught a smooch between Sam and his partner, Vito Cammisano, that left sports spectators deeply divided.
OWN was the only media outlet to offer the defensive end a reality show, however. The show planned to follow Sam’s “historic journey as he prepares to enter the biggest professional sports league in America,” according to a press release issued earlier this week.
On Friday, the network announced that it was postponing production on the Sam series following reports that Rams brass were “blindsided” by the TV deal. There were also reports that Michael’s fellow Rams were taken aback at the thought of having their every play chronicled for mass consumption.
Isn’t that ironic?
OWN President Erik Logan broke the news in a statement, saying:
“After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, The Untitled Michael Sam Project has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team. OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best. It’s clear that we, along with the world, recognize the important opportunity that Michael now has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams.”
Logan’s remarks were echoed in a similar statement from Sam’s rep, Cameron Weiss.
“After today’s meeting with the Rams, we collectively feel it is best to postpone the project. This will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”