Tag Archives: Michael Sam

The year that was: First half dominated by football success, Michael Sam, DGB troubles

2014’s top stories led by Sam, DGB dismissal, another football title

Part one of two parts

darren hellwege logo
Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

By Darren Hellwege

It’s been an extraordinary year in Missouri sports, both on and off the field of play. As 2015 begins, let’s look back at some of the biggest stories of each month of the last year.

January

The year began with a barn-burner of a football game with Mizzou beating Oklahoma State 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys led in the final five minutes, but a Henry Josey touchdown put Mizzou ahead and a touchdown on a fumble return by Shane Ray cemented the victory. It was something of a torch-passing, as the final game of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam saw a big play by the Tigers’ next great lineman.

Also in January:

  • The men’s basketball team fell from top 25 after an emotional home loss to Georgia.
  • Pat Ivey named Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by a national organization.
  • MU Athletics Hall of Fame inducted Ashley Wysong (cross country) John Putnam (swimming) Aaron Crow (baseball) and Dan Pippen (basketball).
  • Wrestling bested Oklahoma in battle of top-10 teams
  • Women’s basketball upset Vanderbilt with freshman Kayla McDowell made key contributions off the bench
  • In gymnastics 11 personal bests were set or tied, including 9.90 on beam from Rachel Updike, as Mizzou fell just short against Arkansas

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Alabama overpowers Mizzou in 42-13 win

Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports 

Photos by Joe Trezza, KBIA Sports

ATLANTA — There was tension in the Georgia Dome with a little less than five minutes to play in the third quarter of the Southeastern Conference Championship between Missouri and Alabama.

Despite losing defensive end Shane Ray to an ejection in the second quarter, and despite its defense allowing three first-half touchdowns, Missouri managed to whittle Alabama’s lead down to eight points with 4:37 to play in the third period when kicker Andrew Baggett’s 33-yard field goal made it 21-13.

Scores of Alabama fans returned to their seats, their “Roll Tide” chants ceasing for the first time all game. The pocket of gold among the sea of crimson seemed to come alive, finally having something to cheer for. Missouri had fought back from a 21-3 deficit to make it a one-possession game, and maybe it could take down mighty Alabama.

As it turned out the tension was fleeting. Alabama responded with a pair of touchdown drives that combined to cover 154 yards on 18 plays and rolled to a 42-13 victory over No. 14 Missouri (10-3, 7-2).

“They answered,” head coach Gary Pinkel said. “They did what you’ve got to do. That to me was two statement drives from their standpoint.” Read more of this post

Missouri’s Markus Golden shining in starting role

Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

It almost looked unfair, the jump defensive end Markus Golden got on Toledo offensive lineman Chase Nelson early in the second quarter of No. 20 Missouri’s 49-24 victory Saturday.

Golden made a beeline for Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely while the Rockets behemoth senior right tackle looked like he Read more of this post

Unproven Mizzou still confident in SEC football 


By The Associated Press

HOOVER, Ala. — Missouri made a surprising run to the top of the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division in just its second year in the league.

Staying on top might be even more of a challenge.

The Tigers lost a huge chunk of their team after finishing 12-2 last season, including 7-1 in the SEC. Only nine starters return, including just four on offense.

But new starting quarterback Maty Mauk was confident during Missouri’s appearance at SEC Media Days on Read more of this post

SEC honors Mizzou football team for its support of Sam

By The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Missouri football team was named one of four winners of Southeastern Conference’s annual sportsmanship awards today. The other winners are the Tennessee men’s basketball team, Georgia’s equestrian team and the league’s women’s golf coaches.

Missouri was honored for its support of defensive end Michael Sam, who told teammates in August he was gay but didn’t come out to the public until after the season.

Tennessee was credited for supporting Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, whose son underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his thyroid before the Tennessee-Iowa NCAA tournament game.

A scoring error initially gave Georgia the SEC equestrian title that eventually went to South Carolina. Georgia’s captains asked to present South Carolina with the championship T-shirts they’d initially received.

Women’s golf coaches encouraged Auburn coach Kim Evans after her cancer diagnosis.

The winners were chosen by SEC athletic directors.

Oprah’s network postpones Michael Sam documentary

By 
The Associated Press


The planned documentary by the Oprah Winfrey Network on Michael Sam, the former Missouri player and the NFL’s first openly gay player, has been postponed.

Erik Logan, president of the network, said Friday that the postponement was made after meetings with the St. Louis Rams.

“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,” Logan said in a statement.

“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.”

As a seventh-round draft pick, Sam will face hefty challenges just to make the Rams. Being the subject of a TV documentary could have been a major distraction for the defensive end from Missouri.

“This (postponement) will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates,” added Sam’s agent, Cameron Weiss. “Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”

10 Mizzou Tigers making their way to the NFL

It was a tense and emotional weekend for 15 former Missouri football players as they waited for their name to be called in the NFL Draft. Four players got the call they hoped for. Here are the results from the weekend.

Second Round
60. Kony Ealy, DE: Carolina
64. Justin Britt, OT: Seattle

Sixth Round
188. E.J. Gaines, CB: St. Louis

Seventh Round
249. Michael Sam, DE : St. Louis (compensatory selection)

Undrafted free agents:
James Franklin, QB: Detroit
Henry Josey, RB: Philadelphia
Marcus Lucus, WR: Carolina
L’Damian Washington, WR: Dallas
Eric Waters, TE: Pittsburgh
Andrew Wilson, OLB: Miami

Undrafted, unsigned
Donovan Bonner
Max Copeland
Marvin Foster
Randy Ponder
Matt White

Long on guts, all Michael Sam needs is a fair shot 


By Jim Litke, Associated Press Sports Columnist

Among the hundreds of players eligible for this year’s NFL draft, one has come out and announced he’s gay.

For all the dramas that will grab center stage each time a big name moves up or down the board, the fate of Michael Sam — and whether he gets a real shot to play at the next level — could wind up trumping them all.

More than a few players and front-office execs have vowed they’d play alongside anyone if he made them a better team. This could be the weekend that claim is put to the test.

Sam is under-sized (6-foot-2, 252 pounds) by NFL standards, so the skills that won him acclaim as one of the top Read more of this post

Mauk stands out in Black and Gold game

Photos by Daniel Shapiro
Story by Mary Kate Burgess

Michael Sam in spotlight at Missouri’s football pro day

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Michael Sam certainly draws a crowd.

Scouts from more than 30 NFL teams, fans and media packed Missouri’s training facilities Thursday to watch the former Tigers defensive end and 14 of his former teammates at the school’s annual pro day.

A little over a month since Sam announced his desire to become the first openly gay NFL player, he lifted 225 pounds 19 times, ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.69 seconds and jumped 30 inches — all improvements from his statistics at the NFL combine last month. He also raised eyebrows after tweaking his right hamstring during the run.

“Just a little sore,” his agent Joe Barkett said.

With television cameras following his every move, the 6-2, 263-pound Sam stretched while teammates performed the 3-cone and short shuttle drills, and returned for the vertical jump and linebacker workouts.

One of his fans in attendance was Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who left Missouri last year. Richardson wished him the best in the NFL but said the draft hopeful could wind up hearing some homophobic jokes in the pros.

“It is what it is,” Richardson said. “You hear every kind of joke – racist jokes, everything in the NFL locker room. That’s what happens when you’re a family. Nothing bothers you. Only those people can talk about you. No one else outside the locker room.”

Sam is pegged to be picked in the lower rounds of the NFL draft, if at all, much lower than fellow defensive end Kony Ealy.

On his second and final attempt, Ealy ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial 4.57 seconds, only four-hundredths of a second slower than Jadeveon Clowney’s time at the combine. The school announced the time, which would be a considerable improvement over the 4.92 seconds Ealy posted at the combine.

Ealy also posted a 32-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot broad jump.

Ealy hopes to become the seventh first-round NFL draft pick from Missouri in the past six years following Richardson last April. The 6-feet-4-inch, 265-pound end described Richardson as a mentor.

“Having a guy like that, an older guy going through all the ropes, somebody I can relate to, it means a lot,” he said. “I can easily relate to him.”

While much of the attention surrounded the two defensive ends, the workouts gave other players a chance to show off their skills in front of scouts from every team except the Redskins, according to the NFL Network.

“I think it’s very important,” quarterback James Franklin said. “It’s really helpful. In high school, it’s kind of how I started to get recruited. Scouts would go there for other teams or college coaches would go there for other players, and then they would see me there. And that’s kind of how I got attention.”

Franklin ran an unofficial 4.9-second 40-yard dash on his second attempt, while receiver L’Damian Washington paced the field with an unofficial 4.39-second mark.

Asked about the challenge in preparing for May’s draft, Washington mentioned the difficulty in turning the page so quickly from a 12-win season. He’s recovering from what he described as an inflamed nerve in his feet, and says he is “90 percent.”

Washington hopes the injury won’t prevent him from fulfilling his dreams of becoming an NFL player.

“It’s a four- or five-month job interview,” he said. “And no matter what, you have to watch everything you do, watch everything you say, because it’s going to be out there.”