The St. Louis Rams released Michael Sam on Saturday afternoon, just before the NFL deadline for teams to cut their rosters down to a final 53 players.
Sam was a last-round pick, so his chances of making it to the final team were slim to begin with. He was also up against an especially impressive defensive line that kept all its major players from the previous year.
Over at ThinkProgress, though, writer Travis Waldron has plenty of reasons — both football-related and not — that Sam will be back on the field before too long.
Despite his release, there are plenty of reasons to believe Sam’s dream of making it in the NFL is far from over. While Sam slipped in the NFL Draft in part because of size and speed concerns, he improved throughout the preseason, according to Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, and former Rams executives said that Sam had “done enough” to prove he can be a useful pass rusher in the NFL. He finished the preseason on a high note, logging two sacks against the Cleveland Browns in his third preseason game and following it up with six tackles against the Miami Dolphins this week.
“I’m very confident that I’ll be playing on a NFL roster this fall,” Sam said after the game against the Dolphins.
Fisher struck a positive tone about Sam during a Saturday press conference announcing the roster cuts (the Rams cut 17 players Friday evening and five more Saturday to reach the 53-player limit). Some NFL executives and former coaches, anonymous and otherwise, had expressed (misplaced) fears that Sam could be a “distraction,” but Fisher reiterated that he was not.
“There will be no challenge” for a team that chooses to sign Sam, Fisher said Saturday. “There’s no challenge with respect to Mike Sam. He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”
This is a bummer, but it’s not the end of the line for him. Michael Sam has already made history and served as a role model for so many, and this is only the beginning.
Luke Cage was created in 1972.
Four years earlier, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.
Five years before that, in 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed.
Eight years before that, in 1955, a young Black man named Emmett Till was tortured, then shot and killed.
These events, and numerous others with frightening similarity, happened in a line, and in the early years of the first decade to reap the social benefits of the Civil Rights Movement, Marvel Comics gives the fans (and the world) a Black male superhero whose primary superhuman aspect… is that he’s bulletproof.
Not flight, or super speed, or a power ring.
The superhuman ability of being impervious to bullets.
Superheroes. Action heroes. Fantasy heroes.
Is there any doubt the power fantasy of the Black man in the years following multiple assassinations of his leaders and children by way of the gun would be superhuman resistance to bullets?
In American society, the Black man has come a long way from the terrors of the past handful of centuries, only to crash right into the terrors of the 21st century. Some of those terrors being the same exact ones their grandparents had to face and survive — or not.
There are Black men who are wealthy, powerful, formidable and/or dangerous. They can affect change undreamt of by their parents, and their parents’ parents. Their children will be able to change the world in ways we can intuit and others we can barely begin to try and predict.
But a bullet can rip through their flesh and their future with no effort whatsoever.
And so we look at Luke Cage, a man who gets shot on a regular basis, whose body language is such that he is expecting to be shot at, prepared for the impact — because he knows he can take it.
And maybe, in the subconscious of the uni-mind of Marvel Comics, is the understanding that Luke Cage may unfortunately always be a relevant fantasy idea for the Black man.
2012 – Trayvon Martin is shot and killed.
2013 – Jonathan Ferrell is shot and killed.
2014 – Michael Brown is shot and killed.
2015/2016 – Luke Cage premieres on Netflix.
I look forward to seeing if the Luke Cage of that show will have a true understanding of his power and what he symbolizes.