St. Louis Rams seventh-round draft pick Michael Sam. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
ESPN apologized Aug. 27 for its report a day earlier which detailed St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam’s showering habits and drew fire from the team.
“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report,” the network said in a statement. “Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”
Reporting live from the Rams training facility on Aug. 26, Josina Anderson discussed how Michael Sam, the first openly gay athlete in the NFL, was adjusting to the team. Studio anchor Jay Crawford mentioned that the team had to make roster cuts and inquired about Sam’s play, asking “How is he fitting in with his Rams teammates so far?”
St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam (96) walks the sidelines during the second half of an NFL preseason football gameagainst the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Anderson first said teammate Kendall Langford told her that Sam is one of the guys and is “listening and learning at his own pace.” But her report turned controversial when she mentioned that an anonymous teammate told her that “he was respecting our space” and that he was waiting to take a shower.
After her report aired, a slew of St. Louis Rams players criticized ESPN’s coverage and reached out to support Sam.
“Dear ESPN Everyone, but you is over it,” defensive end Chris Long wrote on Twitter.
Head coach Jeff Fisher said he was outraged and disappointed by Anderson’s report.
“I’m extremely disappointed in her piece,” Fisher told The St. Louis Dispatch. “I think it’s unethical. I think it’s very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. The manner in which it was presented.”
ESPN initially defended its reporter, saying the shower question was not directly asked and was brought up by Sam’s teammate first.
“The player who answered our reporter’s question directly brought it up on his own—she asked how Michael Sam was fitting in, she did not ask a shower question,” network representatives said, according to Radar Online, before issuing the later apology.
In May, Michael Sam became the first openly gay athlete drafted into the NFL when he was selected in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick out of the University of Missouri.