Rams' Fisher Angry Over ESPN Piece On Sam's Shower Habits, Reporter's Tactics
Rams coach Jeff Fisher "remains angry over a report Tuesday by ESPN’s Josina Anderson that dealt in part with the 'showering habits'" of DE Michael Sam, according to Jim Thomas of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Fisher following practice yesterday said, "I'm extremely disappointed in her piece. I think it’s unethical. I think it’s very, very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. (But also) the manner in which she did it." Fisher did say that he "appreciated the apology" ESPN issued yesterday morning. Thomas reports the Rams also "received an additional apology in a phone call" from ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production John Wildhack. Fisher said that he is upset with Anderson in part because she "contacted Rams players away from the facility for the story." Fisher: "She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time. Misled them with questions and then put this piece together." ESPN Senior VP/SportsCenter & News Rob King yesterday wrote in an e-mail, "Josina Anderson is a trusted professional and a valued member of our team. What took place yesterday was a collective failure to meet our standards and we will all be better going forward" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/28). In a special to the L.A. TIMES, Matthew Fleischer wrote ESPN's reporting on Sam's showering habits "felt creepy and exploitative." It is the media that "now bears the greatest scrutiny for its handling of Sam -- not the NFL and its players." It is the media "that can do the most damage to Sam and to everything he represents." Sam's story "deserves to be heard," and ESPN has done its part when it "quite rightly aired a beautiful celebratory kiss between Sam and his boyfriend ... after Sam learned he had been drafted into the NFL." But "overzealous coverage ... is doing the man, and the LGBT community, a disservice" (LATIMES.com, 8/27).
PLAYING IT FOR LAUGHS: Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" last night touched on the controversy, with host Jon Stewart noting Sam on Tuesday "advanced to the St. Louis Rams' 75-man roster" and ESPN has been covering his performance "every step of the way." The broadcast aired Anderson's report, with Stewart asking, "Why would his teammates feel uncomfortable showering with Michael Sam? Does he use Axe Garlic & Rotten Egg Body Wash? ... Michael Sam's gay. Are we not over this yet?" He then cut to correspondent Samantha Bee "reporting" live from the Rams' locker room. She said, "Jon, I hate to say it, but it sounds like Sam is in trouble." Bee said, "His work on the line has been great, but he has been making his teammates very uncomfortable." But Stewart noted, "Actually, they said he's been respecting them; he hasn't been showering with them." Bee interjected and said, "No, no, no. In fact, he hasn't been getting naked around them at all. Jon, there's been no grab-ass, no dick snaps, no ball cupping, none of the locker room behavior of normal, heterosexual NFL players" ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central, 8/27).
THE CIRCUS HAS LEFT TOWN: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote no matter "how easy it is to make a villain out of 'the media', Sam's time in camp has produced almost none of the circuses, distractions, onslaughts or anything else that some foolishly claimed would be inevitable." There was "just that one, loudly denounced, ESPN report." Sam "wasn't besieged by a pack of media each day." His coaches and teammates "weren't overwhelmed by question after question." In fact, there "was very limited on-sight reporting of Sam." The Rams claim out-of-town media visits "were essentially the same as any other year" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27).