Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted “horrible” when Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted in NFL history, and it has cost him an undisclosed amount fine and suspension from the team until he “completes educational training” for his actions, according to the club.
Sam, the former Missouri linebacker was selected by the St. Louis Rams, with the next-to-last pick in the draft. His reaction—including tears and a kiss from his male friend—was captured on television, prompting Jones to post on Twitter: “OMG. Horrible.”
In the NFL, which is seeking to create a culture of sensitivity, Jones’ reaction was not welcomed, even if it represented many others’ views, too.
“I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media,” Jones said in a statement released by the team. “I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team, and I wish him all the best in his NFL career. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Ross, my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for these tweets. I am committed to represent the values of the Miami Dolphins organization and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to do so going forward.”
“We met with Don today about respect, discrimination and judgment, coach Joe Philbin said. “These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program. We will continue to emphasize and educate our players that these statements will not be tolerated.”
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told NFL Network soon after Sam was picked that he didn’t anticipate issues about his sexuality.
“I don’t have any concern whatsoever. We drafted a good football player,” Fisher said. “I’m excited to get him on the practice field and get him going so yeah, there’s gonna be a little extra tension for a couple days, but Michael was the SEC co-defensive player of the year.”
Sam had 11 1/2 sacks last season for Missouri. Many believe he would have been selected higher had he stayed essentially in the closet. NFL scouts, of course, likely would have learned he was gay after they began evaluating prospects after the season, since Sam was out to his college teammates — and there was a strong chance of him being outed against his will.