OWN has called off its plans to make a documentary series about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player who was recently selected in the NFL draft. Just days after announcing the show, the network said on Friday, May 16 that the project had been postponed.
"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 president Erik Logan said in a statement.
"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."
Sam's agent Cameron Weiss also explained, "After today's meeting with the Rams, we felt it is best to postpone the project. This will allow for Michael to have 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."
The unscripted series was supposed to follow Sam, the University of Missouri alum, as he tried to make the Rams. The Rams and NFL said they didn't know about the TV project in advance. "We learned of this in the days after the draft," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, adding that OWN had no agreement to use footage from the league.
Sam came out as gay in February in interviews with The New York Times and ESPN. He was drafted by the Rams on May 10, celebrating it by kissing his boyfriend on live TV. Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones who expressed via Twitter his disgust at Sam's act later apologized. He was also ordered to pay a fine and was excused from team activities.